Christmas Eve! Actually it only hit me just now that most of my family, about 20 people probably, including kids, are at my mom’s house celebrating the holiday. Although I miss them and the celebration, I’m pretty darn happy here! Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas, starting with going to church at 8:30 am. I don’t know what all the festivities will hold, but Lucy, the other Dutch volunteer have combined our gifts to present to the family and others living at the house.At the house there are Godfrey (also called Geofrey), the director of Sprout Care Foundation, his wife Gorreth (pronounced Gorety), their three sons (the twins are 6 and the other is about to turn 3), Gorreth’s nieces Winnie and Doreen, a teacher from the school Prossy, myself and Lucy the volunteer from the Netherlands. Apparently there is also another girl, Tracy is a student at the school but is currently staying with her aunt for the holiday. Another volunteer Luke will be returning January 10th. I had no idea so many people would live here and I misjudged the boys’ ages so Lucy helped by offering to pool her gifts with mine.
Prossy invited Lucy and I to a celebration tomorrow afternoon at her friend’s house, which we are also bringing a gift.
Anyways, enough about Christmas, because I’m more interested in the whole Uganda thing! Today was interesting and good, although I’m still jetlagged so my energy level was lower than I wished.
After breakfast, Lucy took me on a walk to the nearest town, Kalisizo, from our village called Kisunku. It is 3 km away (a little over a mile). It is a gorgeous walk, homes scattered here at there, lots of farms, mostly banana trees and corn and potatoes. Also lots of mango and jackfruit trees. The roads are mostly red dirt, just like in Liberia. The plants are quite different than in Liberia, no coconuts for example. 🙁 But still the trees and vegetation are gorgeous, even conifer (pine like) trees. When we got to Kalisizo, we went to the hotel. It looks like a beautiful, nice hotel with what seems to be a very nice restaurant also. It has very nice wifi in the lobby, so we sat there for over an hour drinking coffee and doing our work. The power died at one point so we worked off line and then packed up and went further into town so that I could by a couple drug store items.The power here is mostly coming from a hydroelectric plant in Jinja, which is many hours away and is the source of the nile. Godfrey’s house has solar panels as back up for when the hydroelectric fails. The hotel apparently does not, so the wifi is not 100% reliable but it was nice and quick when it was working. There is also a internet cafe that I haven’t been to yet. Lucy says the wifi there is very slow so she just goes to the hotel.
When we were at the drug store, which had hydrogen peroxide but not rubbing alcohol, Lucy noticed the power was on. The clerk at the store told us that it was that the hydro was back on so we headed back to the hotel. We sat and worked for several more hours. I was able to get some stuff done for my website as well as Godfrey’s and some documents that I’m working on for Godfrey but also for the other organizations I will be at. It felt like a very productive day.
We headed home around 2:30 pm. There are lots of motor bikes, called boda bodas, on the roads closer to town. All the roads around here are dirt but they are WAY better than the roads in Liberia. These roads are very smooth and manageable, where as the Liberian dirt roads were chaotic, full of rocks and pits and grooves and bumps and you name it. I am in shock of how close the motor bikes and cars get to us walkers. It felt like some motor bikes went by 2 inches or less from my body. Yikes. There are also a lot of bicycles which, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see a single bike in Liberia. In Uganda, they drive in the UK way, on the left side of road and the steering wheel on the right side of the car.
When I got home, we had a lunch of boiled potatoes and spices and a cabbage salad similar to cole slaw, but probably no mayonaise. I then took a nap. Sound really carries in the house, and my windows were not fully closed, so I was woke up a lot but that’s ok. In a couple days I hope to be fully recovered from my flight and time change and not need naps. We have tea every day around 6 pm, which is black tea with ginger powder added and a small snack. Fried cassava or potatoes and watermelon and pineapple is what we’ve had these past two times. I really like their sweet potatoes. They’re not as sweet as American sweet potatoes, but just slightly more sweet than Irish potatoes and a firmer texture. After tea I worked on my strategy and lesson plans for my upcoming English lessons. I have a book that is helping me figure out how to teach English and Lucy is a real teacher so she can probably help me with questions or ideas. I’m feeling pretty excited about the English classes. We are hoping to have them two times a week for about 1.5 hours and hopefully they will start next week. The language the speak here is called Luganda. Unfortunately, for me, it is not spoken all over Uganda so I won’t even be able to use it at all the places in Uganda I’m going. That’s ok. I’m learning some greetings and such. Most people I have encountered speak some English and I’m finding it about as easy and communicating with the people in Liberia. One big difference is Liberians are loud and outspoken. The Ugandans I’m encountering are more quiet and softspoken. By the way, the title of this post “Nze Rory”, is me saying “I’m Rory” in Luganda. The reason I’m Rory is because they pronounce their L’s like R’s. In my English class I’ll encourage them to call my Laurie, I know they can say the L sound because I have heard it, it’s just in their language it is pronounced like and R. Anyone, particularly with language or cultural experience, have any thoughts if I should just stick with Laurie or Rory or just accept both?
For dinner we had sweet potatoes, matoke (which is smashed, cooked, unsweet bananas) and a peanut soup. It seems to me that these unsweet bananas are not the same as plantains. The people here don’t know the word plantain and the shape of the unsweet banana is much smaller. The peanut soup seemed like a light purplish brown puree but it was SO good. I think it will be one of my new favorites.
I am feeling very good about things. Over the past several weeks, every once in awhile I’m just shocked and awed by the fact that I’m finally in Africa, somewhere where I’ve wanted to be for so very long. Yesterday when I woke up from my nap, which was the first time waking up in my new bed, for a few seconds I thought “Where am I?” but I had a feeling of it being totally normal and acceptable and not uncomfortable to not know where I am. Then I was like “Oh yeah. I’m at Godfrey’s in Uganda.”