Sunday, August 21, 2011
Report from the Tree House:
Well folks, I was anxious to get out to Kitti and see what life would be like, and as I am ending my 5th day in the wilderness, I figure now would be just a good a time as any to report back on the situation. Kate, our Field Director, dropped Scott and I off out here late Monday afternoon and we were finally left to fend for ourselves. Naturally minutes after she left and as the sun was going down our power went out- before we had begun to unpack anything. Turns out this is common in Kitti, but with a home full of spiders of record breaking size (which will be discussed in detail later), more ants than are worth mentioning, cockroaches the size of field mice, geckos, lizards, moths, huge toads, approximately ten unidentifiable insects, and one recently spotted mouse; we were not eager to hang out in the dark before we had cleaned the place.
When the power did return just in time for darkness to fall, we began de-spidering, bleaching, and sweeping up termite evidence, only after securing our most necessary living tool: the mosquito net. In our bedroom is one real bed and one …mattress pad? Scott being the generous man that he is has given me the moldy bed (how could it not be in this climate and in a house with no walls?) and is braving it on the floor, a mere fraction of a centimeter above the stomping ground of our lovely housemates: the animal kingdom. A note on spiders: Scott and I have developed a Richter scale for our 8-legged dwellers. A 1 is not even worth commentary, a 2 is the average American-sized spider, a 3 used to scare me but now I don’t even notice them, a 4 is grounds for killing, and until last night a 5 was a hypothetical, even number to end on. The spider Scott found in the bathroom is the biggest spider either of us has ever seen. We have since named him Harry, due to his tarantula-like fur. Harry is about 5-6 inches across and we can’t bring ourselves to kill him because he is so large it would feel like killing an animal. So tonight I showered a few feet away from our new, chill friend. Don’t be fooled by the causality in which I now speak of him. When Scott first showed him to me I was both disgusted and appalled. But, I figured when in Pohnpei right? I am amazing myself at the things that are no longer an issue for me, the only thing I fear is what wild woman will return to the states in June claiming to be Gabrielle Gill.
We are so exhausted at night that neither the creepy crawlies nor the 6 a.m. church bell keeps us from sleeping. The most difficult part of sleeping here is… prepare yourself…: we get cold at night! After weeks of being the two sweatiest people in our group, we have yet to turn on a fan out here and are wishing we had a light blanket. Since our bedroom is local style with a roof crafted from leaves and twine and walls made out of wooden lattice and mosquito netting we get quiet the ventilation. The coolness is a very pleasant surprise, as are the banana, coconut, lemon, breadfruit and apple trees growing in our yard. We also have beautiful wild orchids which I would love to snip and put in the house, but the last thing we need is to attract more bugs.
Moving on, are current project is trying to build our reputation around town so that we can get to the status we have in Kolonia where we know and spent time with many locals. Living with the Augustines, I had automatic respect and a pool of people to meet. Here in Kitti with just Scott and me living in a house, we have to try a lot harder. But we have great neighbors to our right who help us get clean water to drink. To our left is a very active church with welcoming goers who gave us coffee and fried bananas after the Wednesday night service we attended. We are looking forward to returning on Sunday and meeting more of the congregation.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am going to be a teacher on Monday! I just found out today (Friday) that I will be teaching 12A (seniors with the highest GPA), 10E (sophomores with the lowest GPA), and 9B (freshman with the 2nd highest GPA). Originally I thought I was teaching only seniors, so I am a little less prepared for the underclassmen syllabi however I am excited with the new opportunities this will give me. Beginning a stronger education program at a younger age is something that I have been feeling Pohnpei needed since I arrived, and I think it’s great my school is testing out WorldTeach with underclassmen. Hopefully this will help students get more out of their future education. Additionally, after school I will be teaching local teachers about how to teach the essay for their student’s college entrance exam and anything else they might request of me. This semester Nanpei Memorial High School will only have three block periods instead of four due to the shortage of teachers. It is things like this that make me want to stay for more than a year.
Alright, that’s all for now! This weekend will be filled with last minute lesson planning, bug killing, washing our clothes by hand, and our nightly ritual of trying to concoct dinners out of canned foods and rice. Stay tuned for the next update from our adventures in the wild!