Monday, June 25, 2007

Guest of Honor

Guest of Honor

I’ve never really thought myself worthy of being the guest of honor for anything. Guests of honor are usually older people who have accomplished great and spectacular things. A 7 time winner of the Tour de France, Superbowl MVP, former President of the USA, etc. Here in Uganda, anytime you have an organized event or special day you have to have an invited guest of honor. For example, we recently celebrated African Childs Day with the Compassion kids and our guest of honor was the Local Chairman 5 (LC5), a basic equivalent to a member of the State House of Representatives. The man didn’t show up and we had to have the chairman of the board of directors for our compassion fill in for him, but that’s beside the point. Also beside the point is that to honor these Compassion children on Africa Childs Day we had them sit through endless speeches for hours on end. Only in Africa.

The point is that I was invited as a Guest of Honor for Sports Day by the local secondary school. The morning of the event I received a short hand written note delivered by one of the teachers inviting me to come. Now I suspect that I was about the 6th guy down on the list and that when the other 5 guys didn’t come I was summoned, but that’s entirely speculation. So as the invited Guest of Honor I had to miss an entire day’s work and watch secondary students participate in track and field events. Never mind that I had quite a bit of important work to do for that day, I was the invited guest. Again, only in Africa. As an invited guest one is supposed to deliver a speech. So I began scribbling in a notebook some things about running marathons and how in secondary school I was the 8th worst runner on the cross country team out of 10 runners, but that I persevered to qualify for the Boston Marathon. As I waited out the day, reading the book I had brought in preparation for what I knew would be a lot of down time, I could sense that I wasn’t going to be around even to give my speech. I had another place to be at 4:30 and things weren’t going to be wrapped up by then. Besides, the seat for the guest of honor was under a shade tree immediately next to a speaker which was cranked up nearly as high as it would go playing local music created entirely with a synthesizer. The speaker was already distorted from having been blown out who knows how long ago. For reasons I’ll never ever be able to comprehend, nobody else seemed to be bothered by this and the event rolled on. The kids raced around a track which was just a field that had been marked by pouring oil on the grass to mark the lines of the track. They had various running events (though I didn’t see any relays), high jump, triple jump, shot put, discus and javelin. Several of the kids were wearing the shoes I had given them for joining my morning running club.

My new roommates

Jacob came over the other morning. He doesn’t often come over in the mornings but he needed to tell me to move the cat and kittens out of his house. He’s moving across town and will be about a 10 minute bike ride away instead of living almost next door. Not more than 2 minutes after he had mentioned moving the cat, she walked in the door carrying one of the kittens in her mouth and proceeded to slip under my bed and head out the door for the other two… Whoever said animals aren’t intelligent creatures. So for the past several days I’ve had 6 week old kittens traipsing around my living quarters. They’re cute. They play a lot. I have a drawer on the side of my bed and I heard scratching around in there one night, opened it up to find 3 kittens snuggled up. Apparently there is enough room underneath for them to squeeze into the drawer, so that’s their little hiding place.


I had never actually felt an earthquake. Indiana isn’t exactly in a high earthquake zone. I’ve felt 2 in the past 2 weeks here. The first time was around 11pm and I woke up and thought someone was nudging my bed because it was rocking back and forth. It lasted for a few seconds and then stopped. This week it was around 9pm and I thought someone was knocking at my door. There is a padlock on the outside which I use to lock the door and it was banging against my door. I asked who was there and when I didn’t get a response I realized that it was more than the lock that was shaking. This last one was stronger, maybe about a 4-5 on the Richter scale, but that’s just a guess.

Jacob’s Move

As stated earlier, Jacob is moving. He’s the other PCV who lives about 50 meters from me. He comes over most nights and we talk, play video games or watch movies on my computer, play guitars or whatever the mood calls for. The school which he rents from recently gave him an eviction notice. After inquiring from the neighbors we thought that maybe they just wanted more money for rent. He pays about $25 a month to rent a nice duplex that has a sitting room, bedroom, bathing area, storage room, outdoor kitchen (a room outside) and a nice latrine. And when I say that ‘he’ pays, the organization he works with pays. That’s how things work in the Peace Corps. It’s the PCVs organization that provides housing. So they offered to double the rent and the school said yes… and then they said no. We finally found out that when that building was built, it was built specifically for teachers at the school. For years the school had complained to the district that they didn’t have adequate housing for their teachers, so they built a few places to live. When the district found out that they were renting out those buildings instead of using them, they were more than a little upset. To evict a white person who is paying and willing to pay a large sum to rent is more than a little deal. So they were in a little trouble to say the least. So, very soon Jacob will be moving across town.


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