I think pesto might function something like vegetarian bacon. By which I mean that nearly everything you add it to ends up tasting better.
It’s Easter Sunday, the biggest holiday over here, and so everyone is off at church. Meanwhile I’m catching up on some programming tasks and making myself a nice solo lunch – entirely leftovers. And not entirely my leftovers, mind you. People come and go from the hostel and leave behind lovely food items. Is it weird that I just add them to my collection? I inherited some nice fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and the aforementioned jar of pesto.
I chopped up the greens and reds, then added some roasted chicken I had left over from the other day, and topped it off with a dressing made from the pesto, a little extra oil, salt, and pepper. Now that was a damn good lunch salad. Add a bottle of local beer and we’re talking a nearly religious celebration right here.
The past week has been low-key. It was the vacation week leading into Easter, so the schools are mostly closed and people are a little harder to get in touch with. Still, I was hoping to get a bit more done than I did. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to re-engage. With a shorter trip this year I was thinking things would be tighter – but so far because of my timing it’s been fairly quiet!
We did meet with a bunch of the kids we’re helping with university. Here’s the group of young ladies we met with. They were all top high-school graduates that got into university, but can use some financial help. From left to right they’re studying medicine, medicine, pharmacy, accounting, accounting, and biochem. The two on the right have been in the program for a couple years, the three on the left we just met this year.
These are inspiring kids – raised in very rural areas but engaged at school and with big dreams. There’s another five we’re working with that aren’t pictured here. It’s hard to know whether we have more effect helping with a high-school computer lab accessible by many, where you can’t really trace the results, or direct help with individuals like these, where you can. We continue to do both.
Had dinner with the Pakistani kid who runs the local Hindi DVD & chiken tikka shop, and an old Indian guy who has taken him in. He calls the Indian guy his dad and the Indian guy calls him his son. It wasn’t always so sweet: when his wife first invited the kid to stay with them, the Indian guy refused used some more derogatory terms of endearment. Eventually they grew to be family, though, and when the wife passed away a few years back these two guys separated by age and culture remain close.
The Indian guy has been a policeman in Dundee for something like 30 years. Man, he had some stories, I can tell you. Or actually I can’t tell you. The stories were that good.
The Pakistani kid, whom I’ve known for several years now, continues to amaze me. He just came to South Africa on his own without even knowing a local language and a few years later he’s a successful businessman. He has many great stories too – including, as I learned over dinner, time in a Turkish prison while trying to sneak into Greece. He’s 22 and has experienced more real adventure than anyone else I know personally.
I wrote 19 postcards! All in one morning. I bought 19 cards because the shop was closing and I didn’t have time to choose, so I grabbed everything that looked good. Didn’t think I’d use even half. Then when I was writing them out I kept on thinking of people. In the end I ran out of cards, but I decided to let it go at that. If you don’t get a postcard, please give me hell about it upon my return.
I’m about to head over to a friend’s place to wash my car. It’s a muddy mess, which I sort of like, but the locals don’t find it nearly as romantic. One of the kids I was helping with his computer offered to wash it as a return favor. I’ll join in – I haven’t washed a car by hand since I was a teenager. I’ll have to dig out my Daisy Dukes.
Tomorrow I get back to my intended work. Just four weeks now and there’s more than I can possible do on my todo list!