Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hangin Out

We're in the midst of a week and a half school break (the 3rd quarter just ended, they have school here all year round with longer breaks in December and June) so we've had lots of free time. Our host mom is still in Rustenburg with no word on when she'll get back so we are holding down the fort. She asked the man next door to come over and sweep the yard so he's been doing that, but we've kind of taken over garden duty. There seems to be a neverending need for weeding. We're waiting for to get back to ask her about planting some of the seeds we have but we did just start some herbs in some pots. James is digging a hole that we are going to use for compost.

There's a mulberry tree in the yard with lots of ripe berries so we decided to try and make some mulberry jam. The process was flawed from the start. As we were picking we noticed that it was hard to get the berries without the stems (because they'd explode all over our...gloved...hands) so we just picked them stems and all. Then instead of removing the stems right away we crushed them, thinking that would somehow make it easier to get the stems out. Well it made it much harder, and I gave up after about 10 minutes leaving James to spend the next two hours removing stems from mulberry mush. And for some reason the smell of the mulberries made me nauseous so that didn't help. As he was hulling, I took over the cleaning of the bright purple mulberry juice that seemed to get on just about everything. After we had stemless mulberry mush, we put it in the refrigerator to deal with later. Then we began cooking it following a combination of different recipes for mulberry and other berry jams made without pectin. It was going well, it started to actually smell and taste good, but in an effort not to undercook it, we completely overcooked it and created mulberry paste. Sadly we had to throw it all away. The question now is will we ever make mulberry jam again. I think so as James is determined to get it right.

Well you would think that we'd have more interesting things about our community to report. We have met some great people. We've visited the youth center (though we haven't been inside because it's closed right now, we've met the peer educators who work there) and the Lighthouse foundation (a USAID project that does HIV/AIDS education). We stopped by the Catholic church last weekend and will actually attend mass this week (it's at 7 AM!). We got invited to a funeral this weekend too. Next week, when school starts again, we'll be observing classes.

We were just commenting to each other yesterday that we haven't really felt uncomfortable here. Our home is wonderful and we do feel at home in it. Everyone in the village is very welcoming, and they are used to having Peace Corps volunteers around. The one difficult thing will really be making friends. People are pretty content to leave us alone when we are at home, and we have to go out of our way to go out and meet people. It's going to take us a while to find people who we can go visit with in our free time.

A note on soapies...It's somewhat ridiculous how addicted we have become. Yesterday on Rhythm City, this very exciting event was supposed to occur and literally I had been looking forward to it all week. I don't think I ever imagined that I would choose to watch soap operas every night of the week. Also, we've been watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on the puter and that's really good. Not a soap opera.


  1. you guys are chef masters in my book simply because you TRIED to make jam! wow. last night i made cupcakes and that was quite a triumph ;)

  2. Yum! Juicy, ripe mulberries that splat on the ground and make a mess on cars. This story reminds me of the time we tried to make grape juice with our heavy duty, industrial juicer. I think cheesecloth and a simple food mill would be my preferred tools.

    We have the AIDSWalk this weekend and Tucson Meet Yourself. The weather is finally cooling down after 104 last week!

    Sounds like you are settling in! Keep the great stories coming.