Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Pasteur

We are back in Monapo, putting our nose right back to that grindstone in the state we left it in. School started the other week and I am playing fast and loose with the term "start." Technically, no one shows up for the first week of the year because the school has administrative issues to handle. Then, the second week, no one comes because let's face it, it's just not cool to show up that week. You don't want to look too eager - too overzealous cheerleader from Grease. Then, we find ourselves in the third week of the year. The trimester only has nine weeks in it. And the last two weeks are quite similar to the first few weeks. So you can just imagine how the level of productivity is nowhere close to that of the Keebler Elves. I always loved that commercial. Those little elves...working in a tree...with cookies...So easily confused with Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Rice Krispies sweatshop laborers. But I digress...

We had a new fence built, made entirely out of bamboo. The old one fell down while we were on vacation because of the torrential downpours. The only thing weaker than the structure of the fence itself was the work ethic of the students who built it for us. The fence was important for a number of reasons. We have goats that wander into our yard. Children from the school like to antagonize the dog and stand there and stare at us. It's a far more daunting task to brush your teeth in the morning when you have an audience. I struggle from performance anxiety with all the pressure and as we all know, a thorough brushing is always in order. Well, those children are a tour de force. They have been constantly throwing rocks at the dog, barking at him and stealing bamboo from our fence. Bamboozlers. If these children were in the states, they would have monkey leashes on them. Trust me. If you heard "how ah you!?" about 15 times a day and then see eyes peaking through the fence at you when you are hanging up underwear on the clothesline, you would also feel the urge to hurl a few expletives in English.

My dog is good. And by good, I mean he bit me. I was on the phone with my parents a few Sundays ago and he didn't want to come inside when I called. When I grabbed his leg, he pulled and I held on. Well, apparently it hurt him to pull away and he bit my palm, leaving a bloody puncture/gash. There were Mozambicans standing around watching and here I was, standing with blood dripping off of one hand and my phone in the other: multi-tasking at its worst. Good thing he got his rabies shot a while back. According to Ms. Manners, foaming at the mouth is not very becoming of a lady. At least seeing that the owner's dog even bites the owner is a good theft deterrent. I should have started screaming "Ele esta vicioso! Esta vicioso, eu digo!" (He is vicious! He is vicious, I say!") Then collapse to the ground in convulsions. I am just curious to see if my fifth grade forensics talent was just a fluke or if I should shirk the Peace Corps and move to L.A. My spider senses are telling me that it wouldn't be such a good idea.

My dog has gotten gigantic since I've been gone and more unruly. He is so ill-mannered that it's difficult to train him or even take him on walks. I tell him to come and he walks away. I tell him to sit and he licks himself. At least he's meeting me halfway on the sit. He has the attention span on a peanut. So far, he only knows "sit" and "act like a jerk." He broke his second choke collar. Second! I had to bribe him to come back to me by sprinkling saltines on the ground in front of me. Very Hansel and Gretel. I think he is going to grow tired of the saltines, so then I'll have to buy lemon cookies for him. And then he'll grow tired of those and I'll have to buy him hard-boiled eggs. At that point, I might as well start a college fund for him with all the money put toward bribes. I would palm him a 50 but his lack of opposable thumbs would make that transaction seem downright inhumane.

The other day, I was washing dishes in the back room of the house and I saw a little girl watching the dog through the fence. In one hand, she had her shoe, posed in prime shoe-throwing position. I called out for her to leave the dog alone because he was in the fence and wouldn't bother her. Well, who was I to know there was a hole in the fence? He ran out and misinterpreted her attention as playtime. He wasn't doing anything to her but existing and she threw her shoe at him. I walk out to the front of the house and she is standing there alone.

"He took my shoe."

Yep, she threw her shoe and Timba thought she was showering him with gifts. He picked it up, ran over to the shade of the police station bathroom and promptly began to gnaw on it. When I shook a bag of bread crumbs at him and shouted his name, he came running, leaving the little girl to hunt for her shoe for the next 15 minutes. Well, if you throw your shoe, you have to know that there is a chance you aren't going to get it back. Cause and effect, my dear.

School is going fine so far. I am teaching ninth grade this year, following most of my students from last year. I have all of my students who passed and my roommate's students who didn't pass. It's good seeing them all again after break. It's amazing how different they look. Apparently, I look different too. I was waiting for the obvious "teacher, you got fat!" and have them point out my skin's reaction to the abrupt changes in climate it has endured over the past two months. It's those everyday jabs I've grown accustomed to. However, I wasn't expecting "you got really white." I wasn't sure how to respond to that one. A short "sure did" and a shrug seemed to do the trick.

We have been helping at school a little bit. My roommate has a computer program to make schedules and is a master at it, so she did the teachers' schedules for the school with my occasional help. As a result, we had dibs on which times we'd teach at. We got out of teaching at night again. It's creepy to walk alone at night. Sure, I have an airhorn, pepperspray and a mean upper-cut thanks to my past interest in Tae Bo, but I could do without that discomfort of walking in the dark by myself.

Well, I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's and a rip-roarin' Presidents' Day. I'm heading to the ocean later for the weekend for my birthday to hang out with friends. I promise to update this more often, Girl Scout's honor. I only made it to Junior status in the scouts until I submitted my resignation, but I like to think I can still lay claim. In all honesty, I only wanted to be a Junior so I could get that leprechaun-green vest. Juliette Low would be proud.