Monday, May 7, 2007

"Poopoo aji"

This blog was aptly named “poopoo aji” in honor of some of our little adventures. The words mean, literally, “whose poop is it?” which is the first thing our bodaboda-driver/guide-friend Freddy said when we were moving into our apartment home. He was referring to a pile of mouse-looking poop in a corner outside. We have since adopted it as one of those inside joke phrases.

One of the greater adventures we’ve had was Saturday night as we were moving into our new apartment. It’s a relatively very nice place right behind the church, but needed some cleaning. We sprayed a can of Doom throughout and left to run some errands. When Kasey, Tamara and I returned, I moved my suitcase and out jumped two bullet mice! Thus began the chase. The mice were tiny and fast and we spent a good while plotting, then chasing them around the room. Brooms of course don’t do much damage and I wanted to squash the little varmints, but missed every time with my big water jug. We were laughing and yelling and screaming and sounded like we were beating each other, I’m sure. Good introduction for the neighbors, eh? The invaders finally ran out the house. So I go to bed at night, snug in my bed net, only to be awoken at 3:30 a.m. with a crawly thing doing calisthenics on my appendages. GROSS! I was pretty sure it was another mouse and was so creeped out, but further investigation revealed a large cockroach taking rest in my “pillow” (wad of clothes). Not about to squish the little fiend, I shook it off onto the ground and thought I had sufficiently flattened it, but saw no evidence of my violator in the morning. Not sure which is worse---mice in my suitcase, or sleeping with cockroaches?

I’m in love with the bodabodas! It’s a little exhilarating to ride around town and in the villages on the back seat of a little moped. Efficiency rules here, meaning that the more you can fit on the seat or in the vehicle, the better. Four little kids rode this morning with a big man. Little more difficult to get two women, though, because we sit side-saddle and the seat won’t accommodate our big bums.

Ugandans have a “hip” (as in cool, up-to-date) three-part handshake that begins the normal way, then they wrap around the thumb, then go normal again. We did that lots at church yesterday. The branch was SO welcoming and friendly. That has been our experience consistently so far, except we need to watch out for “mzungu” prices when we’re shopping. It’s common to pay twice as much here if you’re white.

Expect the electricity to go out at midnight throughout the city, and at various times during the day. You’re blessed if you can afford a generator. We’ll have candles and headlamps.

More about Kawongo, the village we visited on Saturday for Betsy’s graduation: the head priest of the parish in Kawongo introduced himself as Musisi Wilson, which he explained means “earthquake.” He said that there was an earthquake when he was born, so his parents named him for that. And most people here have a “Christian” name which is really just an English name, and they put the family name before the given name. So I am Murdock Gwakuna (Lugandan for “April”). Some day I will be adopted into a clan here and then my name will be even cooler.

Women and children kneel at the feet of an honored guest or person of influence sometimes, especially in the villages. But some more “culturated” people look down on that practice. And we are told that most men have a woman on the side, or several, even though polygamy is frowned upon formally by the churches and government. Women here usually wear skirts, or maybe pants, but never shorts. And nothing above the knee (except the prostitute who rented a room next to ours when we were in the hotel. It was hush-hush). Mzungu girls like us wear skirts too. “Mzungu” is the non-derogatory term for “white” or in general just something foreign and good. We hear that term ALL day, especially from excited children. “Mzungu! Mzungu! Hi. How are you?” And they are so delighted when we respond in Lugandan. “Bulungi, weebale” (fine, thank you)

Kasey, Tamara and I ran for an hour this morning. There are some nice hills here, and we ran on the dirt roads to explore and avoid the traffic and pollution (safety and emissions doesn’t exist here, I think).

Volunteers coming later: bring a handful, maybe, of ziplock bags. And baby wipes. And wall-plug converters for the UK. And sheets. And a headlamp with extra batteries. Those are thing impossible or very difficult to find here.

1 comment:

Merry said...

Hello everyone,

You don't know me, but I'm a friend of Kindra's, and I am already pretty much hooked to your blog! I'm so excited to hear about your experiences in Uganda! Rock on! Keep up the good work!