Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Above the clouds

At this time of year at Simandou (its the rainy season) we often have fog in the mornings and it can occasionally last all day.  The photos below were taken from the camp helipad which is above the camp, the camp is in the clouds below!

It can be fairly magical standing above the sea of white watching the sun rise (we have early starts onsite!), its a beautiful country out there as I've said before how fab it is to have this as a workplace!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

First day at School

Tomorrow is Ela's first day at school and Sam's first day at his new school.  Exciting times in our house. 

Last year the school closest to us was too full for Sam to go to, so he went to the next closest school which is just a bit too far to walk for little people (about 1.4km compared to about 0.5km for the closer school).  So even though Sam enjoyed the school he was in (and we liked it too) he is starting in the closer school tomorrow so we can walk to school each morning (plus the kids in his class will likely live closer to us). 

Last year when Sam went to school Ela wanted to go too but was told she couldn't until she was three, she was not a happy bunny.  Her third birthday was back in February and one of the first things she said on her birthday was "can I go to school now?".  We had to explain that school wouldn't start until August, she was sooo disappointed!  This year there have been occasions when Sam has been dropped to his class when Ela has had to be carried out of the school all the time wailing "but  I want to stayyyyy (in French of course)!".  So as one might imagine now that school is finally here she is one excited bunny!

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned here before that the system here is a bit different to the one we are used to in Ireland. First off you can start school at three and you must start by six. The first three years (from three to six) are called "maternalle", play school really, but the kids still go to the same primary school from 8am to 4pm four days a week, a long time for little people (they get naps)!

Secondly everyone who is born in a particular year goes into the same year.  So Sam who was born in 2007 started school last year when he was four and went into the second year of maternalle even though he hadn't been to school before.  Tomorrow all the children born in 2009 (including Ela) can start school.

Another thing that I have mentioned before is that they have full canteen lunches for all the kids who want them.  The food served isn't "kid" food but rather it consists of proper meals that wouldn't look out of place in a restaurant!  Its not free but its not expensive either (and I'm sure there are free lunches for those kids who's families can't afford them).  Also before leaving the school for the day at 4pm each child is given a healthy snack to take away, fruit or some bread and a fruit spread or similar.   

Its pretty impressive the primary school system they have here, plenty of teachers assistants etc as well a no prefabs as far as I have seen!  I suppose it part of the French social compact that still exists here (even if they haven't figured out how to pay for it yet!).

So right now the kids are in bed (if not both asleep yet), clothes are picked out for tomorrow and everything prepared.  A big day ahead tomorrow for our little people and all is well in our little part of the world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Army Ants and back online

In the photos below you can see where army ants have made their own path across one of our paths through the forest.  If you look closely at the you can see where the ants have made little earth walls along the sides of their path.  what you can't see are the scouts that flank the path.
I didn't get to take more photos as I was too busy swatting at the ants that had swarmed over my shoes and up my legs and were biting EVERYWHERE!

I for one would like to welcome our future ant overlords.

On a completly different note you may have noticed that there hasn't been any updates on the blog over the last few weeks.  That was due to truely lously net access at camp that prevented me from uploading anything.  Right now I'm in transit home from site so expect more updates about life on site and on Reunion once I get home.