Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sky Blue Christmas

Sky Blue Christmas Christmas is a social holiday, spent with family and friends. Office Christmas parties, family gatherings and whatnot, just as it should be. Like them or not they are interwoven into the fabric of what defines the holiday season. I’ve said before that Uganda feels more like another planet than another country and the Christmas season is no different. It’s like a ghost town here and nowhere does it ‘look’ or feel like Christmas. The kids are on holidays so the schools are empty. People from compassion are leaving to spend time with their relatives, Jacob is going on a mini-vacation to Egypt. I did hear some Christmas music blasting from a small shop on my way into town the other day, which still feels strange without cold weather, snow and dead looking lawns and trees all around. But the Christmas season is about more. It’s a ‘spirit’ that is traditionally about giving. So Jacob and I decided to throw a little Christmas party for our friends at Sky Blue restaurant. Over the past 7 months, Sky Blue has become an oasis for us. It’s our "Great, Good Place", the 3rd place apart from our homes and work. The Cheers bar where ‘Everyone knows your name." It’s that place that you go to at any time "and they’re always glad you came." There are no obligations to go, no timeframe of when you’re expected to return. Nothing you’re expected to do there, just be. The longer you are away the more they miss you. It’s a place I go to to read or type on my computer or to watch the NFL or an occasional movie. Nobody stares at me or calls me ‘Muzungu’. Jacob and I joke relentlessly with the staff. They accommodate us like none other. There’s Bruno, the small guy from Kabale who never has a down day. He’s freakin hilarious and says some of the most random things. He hugs me if he hasn’t seen me in a while and he reminds me of Chris Monroe. Annett who is from the Central and doesn’t speak the local language. Christine who they call Akazungu, meaning "small white person" because of her size and light skin. Felix who we call ‘Pineapple Felix’ because that’s what he thought I said when I ordered ‘Pineapple fritters’. Then there’s the kitchen staff: Prossy the head cook and then other Prossy, plus a bunch of others who peel potatoes and cook Matooke (plantain). Plus Sharon the manager. It’s just the best group of people, really. So tonight, Jacob and I bought a ‘cake’ from the ‘super market’ and took it for a ‘Christmas Party’. You would have thought that President was coming to eat there or something! They just thought it was the best thing! There was cake for everyone and we even pitched in a few liters of Coke. They turned the radio up and danced and laughed. They even called a photographer in to take some pictures of Jacob and I cutting the cake and then distributing it to each of them individually. We use a lot of the local language with them mostly because it’s a fun and carefree environment to use it. If you walked in at any given moment you would hear us saying "I want to fight", "they don’t want me", "Oh my!", "bring the electricity" or any number of quirky, random phrases that just came to be. Immediately following that party we had another ‘End of the year’ party to attend. We had both received invitations for this one and the invitations said that it was to start at 6pm. Of course this is Africa which means that it’ll start significantly later than that, so we figured that when we showed up an hour and a half late the party would be in full swing… much to our surprise we were the 2nd and 3rd guests to arrive… So saying a party begins at 6 means that people will actually show up around 9pm apparently. They also said that they had some videos and speeches to go through first before dinner! We made a judgment call and hit the exit doors otherwise I think we’d still be there! 5 Month Package A package arrived from my sister, Jennifer, nearly 5 months after she sent it. It was stamped at the end of July from her local post office and then it also had a stamp from the Uganda customs office for the 15th of December. Where it was in between then and now…God only knows. I’ve heard of packages taking 6 and 7 months to arrive, but I’m glad it did come. The guys at the post office here told me "The packages always come, you might not know when but they always do come." That was reassuring. Health Report Ran for the first time this morning. Was a little rusty from the time off but I think I’m basically fully recovered. Close Shave After trying to grow my hair out for about a year and hoping to get it into a pony tail someday, it’s now all gone! I’ve hit that late 20s stage in life where God’s curse to male egos known as ‘male pattern baldness’ hits with tsunami like force. I was tired of feeling like I needed to wear a hat everywhere to hide it. I needed a change and the hair had to go. The general consensus is that my ‘white friends’ think it looks better and that I look younger because of it (Jacob said I looked like a shady tv evangelist before), but the Ugandans HATE that I cut my hair off!! All of them have said that I had really nice hair. That was one thing I did like about trying to grow it out here, nobody really cared or said anything bad about it. One girl here said I looked like a ‘hunk’ before and that I’ve lost my ‘hunky-ness’ now!! Breakdown in Communication My computer is broken. It works fine but the screen won’t stay up so it’s in Kampala for repairs, but it’s really hindered my emailing and blogging and picture downloading. Plus, they had a power surge or something at Africare and all but 1 of their 15 computers are somehow fried, plus their internet is hit and miss. It’s a hassle but in all honesty it puts me in the same playing field as all of the other PCVs here. New Years Resolution I don’t often make New Years Resolutions, I try to make ‘life resolutions’ just on the fly as the year goes on, but if I had to make one it would be to really focus in on why I’m here and to try to implement some ideas I’ve had, despite not really knowing how to get money to fund them. Have you heard how sports commentators sometimes talk about teams playing down to the competition? It’s like that here sometimes. They say the Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love, and to an extent it can feel like that, but teaching was definitely tougher in regards to pressure put on by self, the school, parents, community, standards, the state, etc. Here, I can be sitting in my room having a nice long chat with a visiting friend and not think a thing about ‘missing’ work ("I wouldn’t say I’m missing work" –office space). So the only pressure here to do something is the pressure you put on yourself, and unless you’re a real go-getter it can be tough to get out there and do stuff, especially when you’re fighting language and culture barriers. So my resolution is to really try harder to be a do-er and to make something happen rather than worry about how it will happen or when it should happen. Random Factoid Cows can move FAST! At least the baby ones can! I was riding my bike in the rain down an extremely steep dirt road when all of a sudden a calf appeared through a brush fence right in front of me. Hitting the poor calf was completely unavoidable. My brakes were soaked and dirty and wouldn’t work properly so I braced myself for contact and quickly scanned the place for a reasonably soft landing spot. Just when I thought I was going to be the proud new owner of a lamed calf, the thing developed cat-like reflexes and somehow half twitched and half jumped into a bush and out of harms way. I’ll think of that amazing young cow this weekend as I sink my teeth into a juicy hamburger in Kampala too. Blog Screening Just a reminder, at the request of the Peace Corps, after my next blog I’m going to try to ‘password protect’ my blog. If you want an invitation I’ll be happy to send you one, just email me and let me know. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


At 23 December, 2006, Blogger justlinls said...

Please send me an invitation. Thanks!

At 30 December, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I need a Sky Blue in Burkina!! That sounds absolutely wonderful. I think you look really really great without the hair;) I'm with you on the new year's resolution. Glad you're back safely and healthy from SA. Please please send me an invite.
Nanette in Burkina

At 03 January, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you're ok. We think of you all the time. Please send us an invite! Thanks! Brad and Lisa Keesling


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