Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Day in the Life Of...

Let me start off by saying that WE, collectively, the new group of PCVs in Uganda have decided to do a blog together, so you can get info (hopefully) from a variety of us doing a variety of things in a variety of places in Uganda. Visit http://pearlofafrica.blogspot.com Now… how to get a months worth of activities and pictures into a blog?? Let’s just start and see where we end up!! I have this idea where I’ll pick a topic and just rant and rave on it for a spell. We’ll call them Issues. It’ll be things from my home stay family structure to dinner time to transportation to weather and climate to health and sanitation to education. Maybe I’ll even take suggestions from the reading audience… Let me take a moment to say that I miss everyone a bunch, but I’m not at all homesick by any means. I miss things, like ketchup, cheese, chocolate, movies, marshmallows, my bike (the Hero bike I’m riding is only SLIGHTLY better than walking), microwaves and refrigeration. 3 of our group have now left and we’re down to 34. By Peace Corps statistics we will lose 1/3 of our group before the 2 years are up. People leave for a variety of reasons from missing a boyfriend/girlfriend to just feeling like they could be doing as much or more back in the states. I absolutely don’t fault anyone for leaving. When you know something isn’t for you then you just know and there’s no point in being miserable. “Goodbye friends. Wish you could have stayed we do miss you and we wish you all the best in all of your future endeavors! Peace be with you!” OK…so, Africa. Wow! Or as we’ve become accustomed to saying here, “Freakin’ Uganda” Let me just tell you what a day in the life of a PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) is. Each morning I wake up at 5:45 am to the sound of my cell phone/alarm clock and to the rooster crowing. How is it that they crow WELL before the sun comes up and continue to do so well into the afternoon??? I’m usually pretty desperate to hit the pit latrine at this point, that is if I haven’t had to use the bucket in my room that night. My family considers it ‘dangerous’ to be out late after dark, and in the words of my ‘father’ here Rev Simon Kyazze, “we don’t go out at night. It’s not dangerous, but you might be ‘tempted’.” …And I left that one alone. So after a few minutes crouching over a hole in the ground I do my morning devotions and then by 6:30 it is light enough to see so I lace up my running shoes and am greeted my an African morning coolness. I’ve found that whether you are in Indiana or Africa, the morning still smells like the morning. I run down the main road, past children in their uniforms heading to their various schools. Many of the younger children are barefooted and they make it a point to yell “Muzungu” as I run by which means ‘white traveler’. It’s not a bad thing that they are yelling, more like just a descriptive term for you because they don’t know your name and you clearly stick out. I get many stares and many laughs when I greet them in Luganda. “Oliotia” I say or “Nkulamusizza” I stop along the way to wait for the long horned cattle to cross the road. I run past chickens, goats, boda-boda drivers (bike taxi) who have some smart-remark for me like ‘give me money’ or ‘how are you, Muzungu?’ The kids LOVE it when you wave to them. The get the biggest smile on their face and the harder you wave the more they light up. I always end up with 1, 2 or 6 kids running with me. I let them run for a while then I crank it up and out-run them to see if they’ll keep up. After the run it’s time for the bucket bath which takes place inside in basically a shower room. A bucket bath sounds unpleasant, but the temp never really gets cool here so it’s always somehow refreshing. They do heat water when they do have electricity to take warm bucket baths, but the electricity so far has only been on for a few hours each day and that’s every other day… Then on to milk-tea with my father accompanied with pineapple and bread & butter or eggs and tomato. At 8am we begin training. Typically we will spend about 4 hours learning language and another 4 hours doing ‘technical training’ where we are learning about some of the many many topics we can be teaching about when we are at our own site. I’m in the Health group so we’re learning: Water treatment, basic sanitation, sex education, STDs, crop growing, HIV/AIDS, support groups, living positively with HIV/AIDS just to name a few… We also mix in to the day medical sessions and cultural session where we learn about the do’s and don’ts, safety, rape, basic cooking skills and so on. At noon several of us head to the market (now there’s a topic to write about) for ‘chipates’ with egg, tomato, and shredded cabbage! Delish!! Accompany it w/ a fresh pineapple and wash it down with a sometimes cold Coca-Cola (remember: electricity every other day so that means cold cokes every other day) and you have yourself a Muzungu favorite!! 5pm and training is over and we’re free to do whatever, which can include a game of volleyball, 4-square (our new favorite! If you’ve never seen or played competitive 4-square, and I mean other than when you were in 3rd grade, you’re missing out!), studying language, visiting the “Joy Bar” for a few drinks, shopping (if you can really call it that) in Luweero (where we are training), writing letters, or my newest activity: helping my host family prepare supper which is nearly a 4 hour ordeal that begins around 5:30 and ends when supper is served at 9:30!! That’s right kids, 9:30!! They eat LATE here! And that doesn’t include the milk-tea they serve at 7:30 including donuts (they’re not really donuts but they’re closer to that than to anything else). And cooking: the kitchen is outside! In a ‘shack’ that is separate from the house using 2 charcoal stoves, but I’ll save the details for another blog… At night, before the movie, we’ve gotten into the habit of watching movies on my laptop. They LOVE it. Their favorite so far has been “The God’s Must Be Crazy” and tomorrow they’ll see “Hoosiers” for a little culture lesson! Then around 10 or so (whether the movie is over or not) it’s time for bed and we start the routine all over again. We did find out about the NGOs we’ll be working for in our 2 years here. We don’t know exactly who will be going where but there are some interesting ones. One of which is going to be studying the relation of disease from animals (Gorillas) to humans in the far SouthWest!!! Another that I’m hoping to get is working with what I’ve heard is a fabulous organization called “World Vision” that is doing a variety of things from working with orphanages and doing water sanitation. Well, I better wrap up. I miss everyone so much but I’m finding a new home in Uganda. A different home. One incomprehensible before now, but so real and friendly and alive! Cheers!

8 Comments:

At 09 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian,
We enjoy hearing all that is going on with your new adventure in the Peace Corps. Is there anything you, your host family, or others can use if we send a "care package"? Take care!
Erin & Matt

 
At 10 April, 2006, Anonymous Jennifer Noble said...

The health group, huh? You are all the way in Africa teaching the same stuff that I teach here in North Carolina. LuckEEEEE (in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice). Your blog is fascinating (and somewhat graffic - I know way too much about your bathroom habits now) so keep up the good work!

 
At 11 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I've been checking EVERYDAY for your posting and am now satisfied! Thanks for sharing. What an awesome experience!! Care package is on the way!

Nanette

 
At 13 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian, your life sounds so exciting (and different!) in Africa - but you sound happy! It sounds like you're adjusting well and really soaking in the culture. I enjoy your blog - it's great to hear from you!
Lots of Love, Jennifer

 
At 14 April, 2006, Blogger R. Mathias Ingle said...

So does the 4 square compare to power square?

 
At 14 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian,

Awesome to check out the Blog - Sounds like you have adjusted very well to your first month in Uganda - I'm interested to see what the people think of the movie Hoosiers there! - Wow - Sure does sound like a long supper - A minute or two longer than the hot pockets I'm used to cooking! haha - Great to see the Blog - Keep up the Excellent Work!

Andy

 
At 14 April, 2006, Blogger Crystal said...

Awwww...and so you're missing ketchup and marshmallows? Well, at least now I know to bring along a lot of goodies for myself when I do my upcoming East Africa trip (only 2wks to go!). The pit latrines situation must be totally unpleasant, I traveled in Morocco last year and the hole-in-the-ground bathrooms were highly annoying. Anyway, sounds like your host family is taking good care of you and I doubt that you'll be in the 1/3 who quit before their time is up. Good Luck!!

 
At 01 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian,
I have been selfishly reading all of your blogishness and have failed to comment or write you.
What an experience! Because of your nature, "Uganda" make a difference there.
(I figure you needed an Asherism.)
God be with you,
Mike

 

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