Yesterday I met a young man who’s here with the Peace Corps. He and the other English teachers here are organizing a camp at the end of August, so perhaps I’ll help. I also met two high schoolers, one of who knows pretty good English and likes to write, and the other also knows some English and sings both pop music (she mentioned Beyonce) and church hymns. It was a lovely visit, and put me in mind of something that I might recommend to anyone training volunteers in a foreign country: learn to network. It might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious, because otherwise some of us have a tendancy to forget. I am especially prone to forgetting the importance of relationships not only for personal enjoyment, but also in order to get things done or learn what’s available to be done.
Also, it’s berry season in Adigeni, so we’ve been eating quite a lot of berries and A has been preserving them in jars. Last week it was cherries (bali): the boys kept going out to pick cherries from neighboring trees; we ate quite a lot of them, and A and her friend also pitted some and soaked them in sugar water for jam. The cherry trees here are very productive, bearing both white and red fruit, and the boys seem to appreciate the opportunity to climb trees. Yesterday we picked little tart red berries from trees — I can’t remember what they’re called, and don’t think I’ve encountered them before, but I think they’re native here because they grow along the roads without much care. This morning it was strawberries: A came in at around 10 with a sizable tub of strawberries — I don’t know where from — and we spent a couple of hours taking the tops off while she attended to jarring them and the little red tree berries in a large pot over a wood fire. I’ve also seen a lot of melons lately, especially cantelope and watermelon, but I don’t know who grows them. They eat tomato and cucumber a lot, and cucumbers are starting to come into season here, so A has been picking them from the garden, peeling them, and then insisting that we each eat at least half a cucumber at breakfast or lunch (which occurrs at around 3 here). I think that peach season was about three weeks ago, and I haven’t seen a fresh peach since, but they’ve canned some for later. They are also growing tomatos, grapes, corn (tsimony), potatoes (cartopili), and a few other things — I’ve seen some of the cartopili fried with oil, and some tsimony cakes, but the grapes and tomatoes aren’t finished yet.
Speaking of grapes, we were hanging about outside eating the leftover strawberries that wouldn’t fit nicely into the jars, and fiddling with the vegetables (apparently the squash are supposed to wind up on lines that are tied to the trellis); breaking off grape brances that didn’t have any fruit on them and throwing them into a pile. I had known that the Bibles uses that as an analogy for people who aren’t “bearing fruit in Christ,” but I hadn’t relized that people custumarily did so — I suppose if I had a garden it would be very negligently kept indeed.