Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Garden Report

Not much going on other than school, weeding, plants. Had a nice clinic chat yesterday and visited the adult literacy class in the afternoon talking on uterine fibroids, vaginal infections, and a few other mini-topics.

Eli will head back to the USA the end of this week and have one week to visit with family while packing and shopping for his next school year at Calvin.

A teacher's training conference is scheduled to occur on campus later this week.

Cory and guys tend to visit the gardens across the river on Tuesdays.

Cory was told that bananas don't grow as well in a sugar cane field, but peach palm do fine next to cane                               and other garden plants. One of the largest from the seed collected Costa Rica April 2014.
About 1/4 of the larger garden has been weeded/hoed by the share cropper in preparation for planting rice in September.

It makes the fruit trees much easier to see now that the corn is gone.

The trees are still growing well but ready for some rain.  It looks promising later this week with a tropical "wave" of showers approaching from the East.

Mulching around the fruit trees and palms in the grassy areas in June and July has paid off, resulting in dark green new leaves.

No cow or goat damage the past week but the rental garden has rhino beetles feeding on about half of the peach palm roots and hearts.

Peach palm can send out new shoots from the base even if the heart is eaten so it usually survives beetle attack.

About a tablespoon of motor oil around the base of the palm works as a repellent for at least a few months.

We found two of the potted coconut trees in the nursery had been attacked over the weekend. The trees were pulled out of the pots and 3 beetles killed but they probably ate the bud already and the coconuts will then die.

 The beetles tunnel into the base of the palm, eat up into the bud, and tunnel down into the dirt, eating roots and hiding deep underground.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mangos, by Cory

'Fil Blanc' and 'Valencia Pride' mangoes
I have been planting seeds this summer of several varieties of mango, hoping for some new varieties that are adapted to our wet climate. 'Fransic' and 'Baptiste' are popular Haitian mangoes that can bear several crops per year, but we only get fruit set of those varieties during droughts and fruit that ripens during the second half of the year is mostly ruined by worms.

The only mango that fruits in all weather is 'Fil Blanc', which translates as "white string" and it can have up to four crops per year, at least two of them branch-bending heavy crops.

The skin is green, sometimes yellow and green, and the flesh is yellow-orange or light orange and is stringy. It can be as sweet and flavorful as most other mangoes and is not sour (which allows substituting most of the carbs in a diet with this mango when it is in season,,,think hungry Haitian kids and this fruit enthusiast) but the strings tend to get stuck between teeth and also limit its uses other than as a fresh, messy-to-eat fruit.

There are several varieties of 'fil blanc'. Some can get wormy and some don't.

Green new leaves of Valencia Pride
Most of the Florida mango varieties do not do well in wet climates and most tend to get wormy in our area.

Nam Dok Mai is a very good, long shaped "Florida mango" from Thailand that fruits several times per year and doesn't get wormy. Valencia Pride, from Florida, is also very good, fruits several times per year, at least the one grafted on a Fil Blanc does, but it can get wormy.

So I am planting seeds of the worm resistant Fil Blanc and Nam Dok Mai, and moderately worm prone Valencia Pride.

Fil blanc and Nam Doc Mai produce polyembryonic seeds, so most of those seedlings will be clones. But since this late summer (2nd) harvest wasn't exposed to the pollen of most other mango varieties which only bloom in the winter, most should be cross pollinated with the desired multiple harvest varieties. Fil blanc has dark purple new leaves and the others have green/tan new leaves, so crosses should be easy to spot and keep to grow out.

Valencia Pride X (Fil Blanc?) seedlings with red/brown new leaves
The genetics of mangoes is very diverse. Flavors and aromas include pineapple, apricot, lemon, pine, spice, floral and endless more. Many of the Florida commercial mango varieties are seedlings of the 'Haden' mango, including Valencia Pride.
Unlike Haitian mangoes, the seeds are monoembryonic with each seedling a new variety.  It will be interesting to see what some of these crosses result in. The green leaf seedlings of Valencia Pride that self pollinated or crossed with Fransic or another Haitian mango should still do well in drier parts of Haiti, even if only as far away as the Cap Haitian area, which is on the coast and much sunnier and drier.

Maybe in about 5 years we will have a delicious new 'Fauche Pride' mango!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Anna's Ouanaminthe Volleyball Report. Part 2

That is when we were woken up and told to get up and ready. READY FOR WHAT? We eventually got a volleyball from Jean Pierre, and we played down in the inside gym for several hours before actually getting prepared to play a match. While getting ready we were rushed by the leaders, who told us that the vehicle had already come twice, so we now had to walk to the courts. When my team arrived, there was nobody there! We were the first. I got several cat naps in before others began to arrive. We eventually played the third team, and although we won one set, we still lost the match (due to continuing internal issues)

For the semifinal, as feared, we were put against the strongest team, called Magic. We surprised everybody by playing as a team, having finally worked out our issues, but we still lost. We headed back to the school for the finals. I enjoyed it when the Magic lost the final to Ouanaminth, since they annoyed me in various ways. (including their name, and the fact they beat us)

Our guys played a very hard game, going up to a score of 30, but they still won.

After supper and the awards we talked and played until being confined again. This time I tried sleeping by the feet of some of the shorter people. If one of them moved a foot, I could just place it where I wanted, although it took me a while to figure that out. Even so, my sun burnt shoulder and the heat still kept me awake, and I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.

At 4 a.m., I was waken up by Jean Pierre's packing. Since he had a flashlight, and I don't like light at night, I couldn't sleep well, therefore, drifted on and off for a few minutes until he told us to get up and prepare to go since supposedly the vehicle was coming any time now (remember this is before 5AM).

We got up and ready and then we all lay back down haphazardly. Quite a few of us wore shoes, so we lay with all our heads more or less toward the center, legs on the floor. The vehicle didn't come until 6-7ish (I can't quite remember; it is all a fuzz).

Then five of the guys had to go on their own, since the van was too small. I got to sit in the front middle...my most hated spot. My knees were squeezed, and I couldn't nap since then I would lean on the driver. I cannot tell you how long the ride was, as I spent it trying unsuccessfully to find a way to sleep. I remember multiple times thinking " wake up! " during my dreams. It was bad.

We finally arrived at the station in Cap H. where we got off and sat waiting. Eventually, I and several other girls got into a small van and were driven a short distance to a gas station. There we continued to wait for all the others to be ferried over, plus wait for the five guys to arrive and be ferried. When we finally were all together again, the Fauche people piled into a tap-tap and headed home. (The first tap-tap ride I can remember taking, though I remember riding on  both a bus and motorcycle)

I arrived home at about 10:36 AM. Although we didn't win, I had a good time and learned lots. I also now have new goals for volleyball, so I am happy I went. Even if I was very tired when I got home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Anna's Ouanaminthe Volleyball Report. Part 1

Hey! I (Anna) am writing today's blog about the Ouanaminthe tournament that I participated in on Friday-Sunday. Two Fauche teams attended, my girl's team and the older guy's team. The older guys won, and although my team lost, I learned lots and enjoyed the experience... most of the time.

We left Fauche at some time around 4 in the morning, our small group piling onto a flat bed truck. We left with Jean Pierre's family, three of the older guys, a leader, and 8 of us girls. I shall not bore you with the details of the truck ride, suffice to say even some of my Haitian friends (who were sitting on the truck bed with me) were saying that they were sore by the end of the ride. At Cap H. several other volleyball players heading for the tournament joined us, and I was soon to find out that they were playing on our team. Since the tournament was an inter-club activity and not inter-school, players from different teams who were near each other were mixed. (at least that is how I understood it)

Once we arrived at an foreign-run University, we sat under a mango tree waiting for a while before being shown where we were to stay. The rooms were classrooms with all the chairs piled up at one end. Where I slept there were four thin mattresses. (about half the usual thickness) Mrs. Jean Pierre, her young son, and all the girls from both Fauche and Cap H. slept in that room, which also stored all the suitcases of uniforms, snacks (bread, peanut butter, and cassava), and bagged water.

After some time of rest, including snacks and card games, we put on our uniforms and walked to the courts. We had to walk for several minutes, crossing multiple streets before arriving at our destination.

There were two courts, with bleachers on the bottom and left sides. Fortunately, the bleachers were shaded by multiple trees, since the sun was very hot. I even brought home proof, since on the second day, I missed a spot with sunblock.

This is after several days of aloe treatment.

When we started to play we found that the volleyballs were far lighter than those we usually play with, so our serves/spikes were all going out of bounds.   We also experienced some difficulty when one of the Cap H. girls was played, since she didn't know how we played and vice versa. The combined effect was anger, and we lost the match. We remained cantankerous and discombobulated during the second match and lost again. I must confess that I was very upset, and grumpy. With only four ladies teams, no matter what, we were going to play in semifinals. Knowing they put the weakest against the strongest team, we didn't want to lose all of our matches.

Even though guy's teams had also playing while we played, it was soon dark, therefore we didn't play against the third team on Friday. In fact, it became dark in the middle of one of the guys' matches, so the second set was played back at the school, in the inside gym. We all returned to the school, where we watched the next set before eating supper on fold up tables in the same gym.

After supper, we showered and then goofed off in the hall in front of our room, which connected to the balcony above the indoor volleyball court. Our room's lights did not work, but some of the lights in the hall did, plus the ones in the gym. At about 11 p.m. or so all the girls were confined to our dimly lit room, although some light did enter through the windows high on the walls facing the hall.

We talked for a while before lying down, even though there was lots of noise from the hall. The guys still hanging out in the hall, circulating around the single working outlet in the hall, as some of them with phones plugged into it. Although only three came with us, more joined us at Ouanaminthe, most of whom I knew or recognized.

The gals pushed three of the mattresses together but left the fourth for Mrs. Jean Pierre and her son. Three average width mattresses. We fit 10 girls on them but even so, one of the girls had to sleep on a sheet on the floor. I am a light sleeper, and am also spoiled with a fan. No fan. I 'slept'  toward the middle of the three mattresses. People kept on entering the room. Eventually, everybody settled down, and I drifted off for a few minutes, but then woke back up. One of the guys in the hall was playing loud music on his phone, plus they continued to talk.

I am pretty sure everybody else around me fell asleep. At one point, I had an elbow in my neck from the left, and then suddenly the person on my right moved so that their left arm lay across my throat, plus a leg was across me. The person one over to the left, flipped her leg across the girl between us and all the way over until her foot rested on me.

I soon found out that I could move the limbs, and their owners didn't seem to wake up! I slept in short spurts. The guys remained up at 1:30 a.m. as was I. I was hot, and very tempted to go out and see if the leaders wouldn't let me sit in the hall for a while, since the stuffy room, where I was afraid of waking people, was getting to me. But those of you who know me, know that I am competitive, and like to be able to say " Yeah? Well, I survived.... " So that got me though it and I finally managed to sleep between 1:30 and 5ish.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Skipped Blog Week?!

Konsey books for about 180 local teachers plus the trainers.
Not quite sure how I managed to skip blogging last week--sorry!

Looked at our pictures over the last 10 days to remind me: peach palm fruits, mangos, cows on campus, more mangos...

So in addition to this blog you can look forward to one from Cory about mangos as well as one from Anna about her volleyball tournament this past weekend, [once she recovers from little sleep].

Ornamental variety of edible arrow root.

School, clinic chats, gardens, weeding, office work...not very exciting really. Help me out please! If you've been looking for blogs the last week and missing them how about giving me some ideas of what you would like to hear about or questions you would like answered.

Eli finishes up his studies in Germany this week with a final exam on Thursday in his engineering class. German finished up last week..and this week they receive grades. Due to some issues they will have the chance to change this class to an audit if they want.

 He took trips on Friday and Saturday to see more of Germany. Following the final they will have a week to just enjoy Germany. He will remain based in Berlin but enjoy day trips with classmates. He's seeing and walking lots and is glad he worked hard to be able to go.

Cory and I have decided to add prayer walks to our week and so Friday morning we walked around the border of the Fauche campus where we live. We talked about the problems of keeping the living fence around campus free of holes as we passed many places that the neighbors have opened up to make paths into campus.

Not only do people use these short-cuts they also allow livestock onto campus.

Cory and the guys keep replanting the holes only to find them open again, with several repairs done per week. Even barb wire gets cut. We pray that the on-going security problems can be fixed. Cory plans on making some home visits soon to talk to the parents of some of the rascals who have been seen stealing star fruits and one caught in the garden with a bag of pineapples last week. This time of year it isn't very hard to find good mangos on the ground so hunger is not likely to be the motive.

Note that hooked thorns go both directions to catch and prevent release by just backing up.
Yesterday while walking in the gardens Cory was surprised to see an apparently very athletic young man jump over the tall, thorny plants making up the fence (The pineapple-like plants have curved thorns that slice or break off under skin if you brush against them, even through work pants).

Note: Nine years ago today we moved to Fauche!