The past two weeks have been jam packed. I don’t know if they’ve been packed with exciting news or too many fun stories, but I had a mild senior moment the other day when I realized that two weeks had passed and that in one more week my brother will be here. It’s good to be busy.

The primary amount of my time has been with the nurseries that are already functioning (or not) and the one that I’m still creating.

Two weeks ago I had a really bad day with the newer nursery. We work every Tuesday and even though I stopped by and spoke to people Monday afternoon, Monday evening they came by and said they weren’t going to work because of other engagements (a party). I flipped. I told them that I wasn’t mad that they wanted to do other things or that they weren’t working that week. I was mad because they waited until the last second to tell me and because they didn’t even tell me the entire truth (I saw that the new tree bed wasn’t finished when I visited them earlier). The next time we met a few people were talking about how great some other nurseries were and that’s when I knew I had to have an official talk with them. I explained that the nurseries they were talking about had been around for 7 months – that after 7 months, one would hope things would grow. You can’t just plant seeds and then walk away from it. Part of the reason that our 1 month old nursery wasn’t looking too great was because nobody had been putting in the proper time to take care of it. I told them it was my fault too and that I’d make an effort to visit/work at the nursery more often (it’s about 11km from my house). They seemed to respond well to the little speech and they took more of an interest in learning proper techniques, how to water and what needs to be done to ensure there is a proper roof. I sometimes think that people think you just stick some seeds in the dirt and let the magic happen.

Sadly, their response was only a verbal response. I held up my end of the bargain and visited 4 times in one week. They weren’t doing what I asked, they weren’t doing what was necessary to take care of the seeds/seedlings properly. So we stopped planting and I’ll give them 3 weeks off. They can take care of the trees and start working, or I’ll start to finish the program with them and figure out something else.

The Matsobe Nursery is going strong and has over 4,000 plastic pots filled with seeds and they seem to be growing. The people have been working hard and I am kind of surprised at how quickly they have been producing. It’s almost too quick because I don’t have all of the seeds that I want to plant. That’s been a whole different mess dealing with people collecting seeds. At this point, I’ll only believe it if I see it.

The other day we took a break (if you want to call it that) from working in the nursery and went out to their hillside and cut the grass around the trees they’ve been planting for the past two years. It was cool to see their little forest. It’s still small and looks pretty measly, but it is definitely going in the right direction. I’m sure that in another two years it will be looking like a real forest.

Of course, the day that we went to cut all of the weeds and grass was one of the first really hot days that we’ve had. Also, I don’t really do much machete work while living in Andapa. So despite the fatigue that I felt from it all, I remembered how much I love physical labor. It really gives me time to think about everything going on and gives me time to think and plan other things. It’s as if I just kind of space out and leave my body, which is swinging a machete let me remind you, and I just go into another world and hyper-focus. By the end of the day, I was rather dehydrated, but I don’t know if it was from the thinking or from swinging the machete.

I’ve committed to making a tree nursery in Andapa. We will have it at the City Hall and the guard for the City Hall will watch over it. It will only be around 3000 plastic pots (3000 seedlings). I’ve been meeting with all of the schools (middle school and high school) to meet with various clubs or create clubs so that students can come work in the nursery.

Ideally, the students from one school will come on one day (morning or afternoon) and they will plant 300 plastic pots worth of seeds. Half will go to the students, a little less than half will go to the Reserve and then a small amount will go to the guard of the City Hall for helping with security. It should be a good opportunity for students to learn how to plant trees and possibly lead their own reforestation projects in the future.

I had a wheelbarrow that was supposed to be used in the Andapa nursery, but I realized that I could make a deal with the Matsobe Nursery. I told them that they could have another wheelbarrow if they helped me sift all of the soil for the Andapa nursery (it’s not that many trees and not that many days). They agreed, which I was very happy about and so the planting with the students should go quickly and efficiently. Should the students show up and plant like they say they are, we will choose a date, maybe in February, where they can go out to the forest and plant their trees. If they really show an interest I might try to organize some other projects for them.

Enough about trees though. I’ve begun to talk to people again about SRI rice farming. I only plan to plant with one new farmer this year, but I hope to give the pink rice to many of my old friends and previous farmers. I’ve already had many people ask me about the rice seeds and double checking that they will be able to give it a test. I’m very fortunate to have so many people who trust me and are eager to try new things (even rice!) and I hope that they like this variety of rice and plant it in the future. It will be good to be back in a rice field for a while too.

We had a Spelling Bee with our English Class at the Matsobe Library. It was a fun little event and all of the students seemed really excited – both before and after the competition – and it really showed me what they know. Their ABC’s could still use a lot of work. I think that a lot of the students could spell if they had to write, but if it came to speaking they weren’t able to spell as well. Granted, it is a very different skill to be able to visualize the word and spell letter by letter aloud, but many students made mistakes about the letter because they didn’t know their alphabet. At least they realized where they are and can work on it for the future.

The Mobile Cultural Center (MCC) is still at the City Hall. The visitors have picked up a bit and Ari and I tried to put together some more programs so that more students or adults would come by and visit everything. We had a pronunciation class and a writing class. Both did not go down at all like I planned, but the people who participated in them seemed to enjoy. I had plans of making more programs but I don’t have the time and nobody else wants the responsibility of teaching alone if they do have the time. However, the sessions we had were good and they even got a little bit of karaoke in there as well. I was hoping to show them LOST season 3 because my version has French subtitles, but it didn’t work with the DVD player.

Last Friday there was a green charcoal presentation at the MCC. It was pretty cool to see it again. Amazing to have a cooking charcoal made out of leaves, grass, rice hulls, saw dust, manure and other things, but not one tree. I think they are having some problems getting off the ground (mostly marketing related), but it should catch on eventually if people are willing to push. It might be a better market in a place that doesn’t really have trees for firewood.

I finished season 3 of LOST and I’m almost finished with season 4. That show is VERY addictive; and very weird. However, as it gets weirder it doesn’t really turn me off from the show. I kind of like all of the improbability. With season 4 down, I’ll only have two more to go until I see what all of the talk was about with the finale. I just hope they wrap everything up. It’s interesting to see how my opinion of various characters changes from season to season or even just between episodes.

As the weather has been getting warmer the mosquitoes are making a push for survival. Thankfully, October is dry so they don’t thrive to their full potential. However, I have noticed on a few occasions lots of mosquitoes flying around my house. They even buzz by my ear, which is really annoying as most everyone can relate too. However, these mosquitoes are different. They’re polite.

A mosquito rarely bites me in my house. I see them all of the time and I’m never wearing repellent. I don’t know what it is, but they just don’t swarm me. It’s as if they respect that they are living in my house and they decide to leave me alone. Me and the mosquitoes are living in harmony with each other for the moment. We’ll see what happens when the rain starts falling, the humidity rises and they multiply to even greater amounts. Maybe I’m no longer sweet. I could live with that if it means I don’t need repellent.

I’ve really started running again. I seem to have been running on and off for about a month, but I’ve managed to get back into a routine. As always, the hardest part is getting out of bed and putting the shoes on. Some mornings it is so bad that I decide that I’ll run if the electricity is still on, but if it’s out I’ll go back to sleep. It doesn’t affect the run at all, just my mind. I’ve been running 8-10km pretty regularly each morning and then riding my bike for work almost everyday and still working as well, so I’m feeling pretty healthy right now. With this new heat I feel like if I’m not moving then I’m drinking water. I need to be careful not to over train though. Some days I’ll run in the morning and then have a 25km round trip bike ride along with a full day of work and by the end of the day I’m feeling a little tired. I just need to find the right balance.

I’ve had another scare with my water bill. It somehow got out of control again and I have no idea why. Thankfully, the owner of my house is super nice and she realizes that it isn’t right and so she helps me deal with it. It makes me a little worried for when the electricity will come out. Originally, I thought the electricity was included in the bill with the error. If it does become that expensive, I’ll have to cut the fridge. But what kind of vazaha would I be then? The kind who rides his bike just so he can cut some grass and dig some holes.