Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hot for Teacher

Clouds filled the sky yesterday afternoon. I found it a bit odd since I haven't seen a cloud in three months. I asked my porter, Tsogo about it. I told him that where I'm from those clouds are called, 'Mare's tails' (alto cirrus for the geeks) and often indicate that it will rain within the next 24 hours. Tsogo started laughing and laughing and laughing, "But it's not the rainy season." Okay, well do those clouds mean anything to you? Like is a cold front moving in or..."They mean a lioness just had her cubs." Oh, right, that makes sense.

I took the Zambian Minister of Tourism, his wife, and two friends for a flight the other day. After the flight they asked me to join them for dinner. The friends have lived in Zambia for going on twenty years but still have lots to learn. Karen has long wondered why her gardeners jump whenever they see a frog. She'd asked them countless times but never got more than a giggle and usually just got a shake of the head. Fast forward to three years ago when she and her husband provided the funding for an AIDS awareness campaign. That helped break some of the taboos of talking about sex and one of her gardeners mentioned the frogs. Turns out that if you touch a frog, you have to sleep with your sister. Karen thought maybe her grasp of the language was lacking so she found an educated man, a minister that travels to the villages and gives guidance on various subjects. When she asked him if it were true, he got angry. "See this is the kind of thing I deal with on a daily basis, lack of education with the local people is appalling. It isn't the frogs, frogs are fine. It's the lizards."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blinded by the light

Years ago my friend Stacy showed up for work more than a bit hungover. We all knew it by the way she pulled the ball cap way down over her eyes in an attempt to block out the world. But when you work the boot counter at a ski rental shop facing the world comes with the territory. So Stacy struggled through all the silly questions like, "Is that men's or women's size?" Well the form says 'your shoe size' so are you a man or a woman? Until she got to a group of people that stalled the progress of the line. They didn't seem to pay any attention to her. Stacy, normally soft-spoken, raised her voice but to no avail. She lost the little bit of cool she could muster for the morning and yelled, "What are you people, deaf?" And they were.

I greeted two guests the other day and brought them over to the map to show them where we would fly. I noticed straight away that the father had some sort of vision issue. When I pointed to the map, he followed the swing of my arm and bent close. His nose would've been less than ten centimeters from the map if he hadn't been standing a meter to the left of it.

After the orientation and required safety speech the man asked which seat was best for taking pictures. I figured that's where he wanted his son to sit, but no. I had a blind man snapping merrily away in the front seat while I struggled to find the words to guide his camera toward the wildebeest or zebras. If you look, ah shit, sorry. Do you see the, no of course you don't. In that direction...Faa-uck. I also noticed that he tensed up a bit when I turned. So I started saying in which direction I was going to bank before I initiated the turn. That calmed him considerably. And I directed his camera with lefts, rights, ups, and downs. I hope it helped but I can tell you that I'm glad I don't have to sit through his slide show.