Sunday, 5 July 2009

Categories

Here everything that we do is divided into Mzungu and African. Our driver and the caretaker of our guesthouse comment about our different habits and the categories they fall under. My cooking has elicited the comment: “Mzungu cooking is so strange.” But since I save the leftovers, I am “very African.” It is funny to hear something you do at home called “African,” but I think it is because generally westerners are (accurately) viewed as so wasteful. We had chicken yesterday, and the difference between my piece which had skin, fat, and tough pieces left on it, and the stripped to the bone piece of our African driver’s was striking. I felt bad, but it was not enough to induce me to eat chicken skin. I had already choked, and I mean choked, down some liver to be polite.

We have been trying to learn some new things, although we progress slowly. I have learned to make passion fruit juice, eat bananas (small and large) almost constantly, to prepare food without a microwave or toaster oven (easy since I do this at home) and reheat it (not so much), pour milk from a bag, estimate instead of measuring (instructions on Omo wash powder: pour one handful in basin), and wash our clothes by hand.

I am going to learn to cut a papaya (popo) today, and hope to progress to learning some real dishes soon. We have loved many of the things that we have tried so far. I am a huge fan of African style chips, and we love samosas and chapatti. The produce here is incredible. The pineapple is so sweet, and the avocados are huge and so fresh. I have even experimented with African greens.

We are having a fantastic time here. Uganda is a beautiful place. The terrain is very different around Kampala, more green and tropical, than it is in the west which is grassy. There are hills, and planes, and lakes everywhere, and many interesting animals, birds, and lizards. We have had wonderful experiences with people here, and are looking forward to the rest of our stay. The only things I could do without are the smog in the city, as there are no emission regulations here, the loud music at night, and the Muslim call to prayer. I don’t mind the evening call whatsoever, but the one in the morning, around 5 or 5:30 is really unpleasant. Maybe over time people learn to sleep through it, but when you are not used to it it wakes you up and it is very loud and very long. Being woken up at that hour everyday makes you really question the merits of freedom of religious expression.

Some other random things that are awesome here include the cell phone system, which is pay as you go, very cheap, and easy to use. Everyone seems to have a cell phone. You simply purchase minutes as you need them, and they are available everywhere. You can either buy them in the stores, or as you are driving around the city people weave in and out of the traffic selling minutes (and other things too). Also, medical care here is cheap. Tommy’s doctor visit, lab test, and medicine cost about 27 USD, the wait was not too long, and we didn’t have to have an appointment in advance. The doctors here are typically trained in Europe or the US, and I thought the one we saw was very good.

It is also hard to see so much poverty, although I have found that much of what I consider poor many of the people here do not see as a particular hardship. Our facilitator Linda told us that she prefers to live cheap than to have the many amenities, which are easily available in Kampala for a price, that we consider necessities. Apparently it is possible to be happy without a television, or a washer and dryer, and using a latrine is not the end of the world. Who knew?

There are many really sad things that are not just cultural differences: the stick-thin children with bellies bloated from parasites, the slums, the people who die from dirty water and malaria (Tommy has been treated for malaria twice), and the millions of orphans, many of whom would not be orphans if people had access to food, clean water, and medical treatment.

4 comments:

lauragifford said...

I love your posts, Amy -- it is so fascinating to read about all your experiences. Thanks for sharing these great stories. I'm glad you're enjoying Uganda and I hope everything goes well for you all this week! Always praying for you.

jena said...

I love Uganda too. Isn't it an amazing place? The people there are filled with joy. I am so glad you are getting to experience where Tommy is from. What a blessing!

Drew, Kim and Aiden Cox said...

Can't wait to see the pictures after the court hearing tomorrow. We love you guys and are praying often and always!!

Kathryn said...

Wow! I'm so glad to be reading your posts! Yet, it's making me all the more anxious!! 2 Weeks from today we leave for Uganda!

See you there!

~Kathryn