I am an applied medical anthropologist beginning my PhD in Public Health this fall. For the second summer in a row, I will travel with my research partner, Ginger Mckay, to Kampala, Uganda. Last summer, we evaluated an HIV education program for children developed by the Savannah Sunrise Foundation, which is a non-profit organization. We we will be residing in Kampala from the end of May until the end of July to conduct additional fieldwork. This summer, our colleague Nicole Smith will be joining us as we wrap up our project.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

July 29th through August 3rd

Thursday July 29th
I wrote all day today, and Ginger compiled the preliminary results we developed yesterday into a document so we can take them with us to the foundation tomorrow. We went out with some friends to “Rock Night” at a local hang out. The music was only “rock” music half the time, but it was still awesome. I saw a famous Ugandan musician there. His name is Jamal and he sings a song I LOVE called, “Anavawa.” I walked right up to him and shook his hand. You can’t do that in America! Afterwards, we went and bought an “eggroll.” If you remember, about a month ago we realized that eggrolls are an entirely different substance here. See the pictures to appreciate the initial hilarity of this discovery.

Friday July 30th
Moses came with us to the foundation today. We introduced him to the administrators. We hope he can join the SAS team because he is such a great researcher and he really cares about social issues. After he left, we went over our recommendations with everyone. We had lunch at this really great Indian place in Bugulobi called “Pavement.” The restaurant has a glass window looking into the kitchen. There was not a single Indian person there, but the food was delicious. I never thought I would eat so much Indian food in Africa.

After lunch we had a meeting with the mentors. I went over the results of the pilot test with them, and then, we all say goodbye. Echiba sang a song for us and both he and Mary gave great speeches on our behalf. The whole time we were there, the resident black cat (who always shows up on time for lunch) was lying at Echiba’s feet, listening to him speak. People joked that the cat came for our final meeting too. Haha. After everyone spoke, it was our turn to say goodbye. I choked up and Ginger had to finish for me. She is so collected and eloquent when she speaks. I am really going to miss everyone here, and Ginger, too.

Saturday July 31
Today we worked, and I started to organize my things. It’s going to be difficult to fit everything in my suitcase. I am already saying goodbye to some people who I won’t see again. (Until next year of course)

Sunday August 1st
We went to buy coffee from 1000 Cups today, and we wanted to get some additional shopping done. We are attending a SAS Fundraiser in Baton Rouge in October, so we are bringing home Ugandan crafts to sell in the silent auction. All the proceeds from the crafts we put in the auction will go toward funding our trip next summer. We also had lunch in town, and did some writing.

Monday August 2nd
Happy Birthday MOM!!!
Today was a great day. We accompanied Moses and Sonja to the Aweno Market to see his mother. We’ve been in different markets, but never very deep into them. And the Aweno Market is the biggest market here. Moses’ mother sells fruits there, and has since he was a child. The market is like a gargantuan maze. And it is jam-packed. I was glad Moses was leading us, because I would never be able to find my way out by myself.

People are going in every direction, carrying large bags and wooden crates full of items on their heads. Sometimes you have to duck out of the way so you do not get hit in the head. You have to squeeze past people, and it is very loud. People are calling out, “Muzungu!” and pulling on your hands trying to sell you things. At one point, a man came behind us yelling, “Muzungu, I have stamina!” Haha. The market is a pretty intense experience. I would be afraid to go by myself, but I imagine after spending more time here I would feel more at ease there.

You can buy anything you want inside the market, if you know where to look, and how to get there in the first place. As you walk, your senses are overwhelmed with the most wonderful and the most terrible aromas. Fish and flowers, trash and fruits…it’s like a roller coaster of smells. We took tons of photographs so you can see what I mean for yourself. We bought some wonderful spices and Moses mother was very sweet. Moses bought some fruits from her so we could go make juice at his house.

Afterwards, we walked through the slums in Mengo. People were cooking and eating right in front of large open sewers. It was very unsanitary and the smell was overpowering. I can’t imagine eating and smelling that at the same time. Moses talked about hygiene and unsanitary conditions causing health problems in the area. I can see how. Moses is really intent on helping children from the slums with his organization, SASSO. He and Sonja help talented young soccer players by finding bursaries (scholarships) so they can go to school. He and Sonja have made a difference in at least 12 children’s lives (who live in the slums) so far. Their determination is inspiring, and the reason why we wanted to go with them today, to see the area where they’ve been working.

We went into a meeting place for street children, and they swarmed us. Children were grabbing us and pulling on our hands saying hello. One of them firmly planted his hand on my behind, I had to swat him away. The room they sleep in was extremely tiny, and 8 of them sleep there at night. I cannot believe that. Many teenagers came in, showing us bracelets they were trying to sell, or telling us about their plight. One young man showed us an extremely swollen leg, and he said it had started out as a small scratch. It looked like he had a staph infection to me. I wondered if he tried to keep the cut covered up and thought of the open sewage everywhere. After we visited for a while, Moses told them we were going to leave. They asked us for something to help them, and he told them we could not just pull our money out there. There were so many people crowded into the room with us, and piling outside the door. He told them to send one guy to walk with us, and when we got far enough away to feel comfortable, we would give them some money. Moses told us that they were all saying that we should give them money, because other people who came to see them gave them money. They followed us for a long time, all the way to Moses’ house. We decided to give them food instead of money. We gave them posho and UGX 2,500 to buy some sauce to go over it. Moses said that if we gave them money, it would go to drugs or something else, and never make it back to help the children.

We enjoyed some juice at Moses’ childhood home, and met some of his younger siblings. His brother, Peter can really dance. He was about to show us his moves and play music, but the power went out. Instead, he danced to the beat in his head. It was awesome!! Watch the video! Before we left, we played with some puppies that Sonja and Moses’ dogs had and they were so cute.

Next we went to Sonja and Moses’ new office. They had a bad experience with the last office space they rented. This one is in Mengo, and it takes them anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to reach the office from Kyngera. While were there, we met some of the young coaches and soccer players who live in the slums. We visited their homes, and met their relatives. At one house, the mother thrust her newborn infant into my arms, which is an occurrence that keeps happening to me here. People just hand me their babies although I don’t really know how to hold them properly. We also saw the new pitch (soccer field) that SASSO is going to be able to use to train players. It was a long day. Sonja and Moses have their work cut out for them. I hope to travel with them into the areas they work more when I come back next summer.

Tuesday August 3rd
It’s my last day in Kampala. I am sad. Last night I packed most of my things into the suitcase I brought. It does not feel right that I am already leaving.

This morning, Ginger came out of her room and told me she needed to go to the doctor. She showed me her stomach and she had HUGE bites all over her stomach, arms, and legs. She was itching all over and not feeling well. I started itching just looking at her bites! We left a note for Grace to wash her sheets, even if it is not time, because whatever bit her did so while she was sleeping, UNDERNEATH the mosquito net. We got a ride from our friend, and arrived at the SAS clinic before 9 am. The doctor told her it was actually not bug bites, but an allergic reaction to something. We just got a new detergent, so we figured that it must be irritating her. Then we quickly tried to call Grace to tell her NOT to wash Ginger’s sheets unless it was a different type of washing powder. Haha. The nurse gave Ginger a hydrocortisone shot, and I was in the room for the whole thing. The needle was HUGE, and they fashioned a tie-off around her right arm to restrict the blood flow. Then, the nurse stuck the needle directly into her vein, no butterfly needle was used. The process took almost five minutes. I could see Gingers face contorting in pain. All I could think was, “TAKE IT OUT!” The injection took entirely too long, and you could see her arm swelling as the nurse forced the cortisone into her vein. It was insane. Ginger handled the pain well, during the injection process, but It took her a good 10 minutes to recover afterwards. However, after a few hours, the shot seems to be working already so I guess it’s good that she got it over with. Tonight we are going to hang out with all of our friends one last time. This is my last blog from Uganda. At least, it’s my last blog from the 2010 field season. I cannot WAIT to come back.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 12th-July 28th

Monday July 12th
Today we tried hard to find out any news about the bombings. Unfortunately, there was a problem with our internet so we had to rely on newspapers (most of which only showed graphic photographs of the deceased) and local news channels on the television. It was difficult to find any information, because people were still being treated at the hospital and officials were really still trying to figure out what happened and why.

We spoke to a few friends, and one friend had a family member, an uncle, who attended the Rugby Club the night before. He never came home and was not answering his phone and the car he drove was still at the Rugby Club. There was no way to know his location or whether he was alive. A few hours later, after searching several hospitals and clinics, he was confirmed dead. Essentially, it was still chaos as families tried desperate to locate loved ones who never came home. At the same time, life resumed as normal throughout the city. We only ventured out to retrieve newspapers from the store.

Tuesday July 13th
We still had no internet today, and people told us one of the bombs disrupted the “Orange” tower. We decided to walk to Mulago Hospital, to use their internet. Unfortunately, it is not an open network so we had to go to an internet café instead. The internet was slow going there too, and it took us an hour to send a few emails to family and to check the BBC/CNN/Embassy websites.

Tonight, we talked to friends many of whom knew someone hospitalized or whose life was cut short on Sunday. I spoke to our friend, whose uncle died in the blast. He was heading to the vigil for his uncle. People bury their dead quickly here, within a day or two. At the vigils, extended families and friends congregate together and celebrate the life of the loved one they lost. They walk through the living room, which has been cleared of furniture to make room for the casket. The family usually has a bonfire, some spirits, porridge or chai, and they laugh as they tell stories and share premonitions they had about the person’s impending death. They stay up all night together. After the funerals, people are not supposed to cry about that person any longer. Someone said people who are truly sad will go to numerous funerals to cry freely about someone they are still mourning whom they are no longer permitted to cry for.

Tuesday July 13th
Friends are still finding out loved ones died in the hospital from injuries and infections resulting from the blasts. I hate terrorism. I made some banana bread to take to Mary, who has cooked for us so many times. She and her housemaid tried a piece while it was still warm and they both loved it. I went to two school observations with Mary, and then a funny thing happened. In America, everyone is familiar with the sound of an ice-cream truck driving through neighborhoods selling treats to children. We’ve heard the music here driving near our house several times, but never saw a truck. We always wondered where the music was coming from. Today, I heard the music as we walked toward a matatu stage, and I saw a man on a bicycle. He had a big wooden crate rigged to the front of his bicycle, with a bright orange cooler inside of it. He was blasting the music and making his way down the crowded street. I asked Mary if he was selling ice-cream, and she said yes. Mystery solved!

Thursday July 15th
There have been numerous hoaxes and false alarms in taxi parks about bombs. People are already making jokes about bombs and I can’t understand the humor in it. I’m afraid of going too deep into the large taxi parks or markets just in case. However, it seems like this was a one-time attack. Today, Ginger was out, and I stayed home to work with Moses. Sonja called to tell us about a bomb in the Nakasero Market. I got nervous because Ginger was near there, and she did not answer the phone when I first called. She came straight home for no reason, though, as the “bomb” was a hoax.

Friday July 16th
We decided if we have to evacuate the country we will go to Kigali Rwanda. We do not even feel threatened at this point, but people keep asking us, so that’s it. Other than that, I worked on our pilot tests, and Ginger went on another observation. The water cut off around 7 pm and did not come back on before bedtime.

Saturday July 17th
Happy Birthday Mike! We walked to Garden City today to buy supplies for our American Meal. We thought it would be fun to do something nice for our friends who lost loved ones because we feel so helpless. When we left the water still was not on.

We bought supplies to make burgers, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato fries with Rosemary, and baked apples. The amount of cheddar cheese we bought cost almost $25 because it was from Ireland. We laughed about how some things are so cheap here that are expensive in America, like fresh produce. Cheddar cheese, however, is exorbitantly expensive. We wondered if the water would be back on when we returned, and what we would do if it wasn’t.
When we came back home, the water was, of course, not on. Gerald helped us fill up jerry cans from the rainwater storage containers in our compound. They are so heavy when they are full of water. We washed dishes, and I showered with one of the jerry cans. Then, as I began to prepare the macaroni, the water came on. Dinner was a success and I think everyone had a great time. They loved the macaroni. They all thought it was bizarre that we eat raw green peppers. They were reticent to try even a bite of one, but with some prodding they finally did. People do not try to hide their displeasure with the taste of unfamiliar foodstuffs here. Haha.

Sunday July 18th
Today I walked to the supermarket for milk and airtime, but I stopped at the DVD stand outside before I went in. They sell movies for 3,000 USh. That’s like $1.25. I cannot resist this temptation, and a few weeks back I purchased two movies. One of them did not work. The saleswoman told me I could return the film, so I came back a while later with it. I was so excited that I was going to get my money’s worth for a movie. Everyone told me there was no way I could exchange it since she was not selling movies in a store. I walked home so happy with myself, and honesty in business transactions. I’d exchanged the exact same movie, too! When I got home, it didn’t work either. I guess the DVD they are copying from has an error. Shtoof.

Later, three friends came over to share their plans to develop an NGO in Katakwi. I’ve come to realize how common it is in Uganda to see social activists and people here uniting to fight for a social cause. Many people want to start social programs and organizations to help others. They want to create one that empowers women, people with disabilities, and generates a functioning economy in impoverished areas. People seem to care about each other immensely in this country. Even strangers.

Joan came over tonight and we played scrabble. It was so much fun. We gave her some leftovers from the American Meal and she seemed to like them. Minus the apple. When we walked her to the road to say goodbye, I recalled the first time I met her. It was also the first time I left the compound at night. My perceptions of my surrounding are radically different now. I remember being so scared with my mace in my hand and constantly looking over my shoulder. Now walking around just feels so normal.

Monday July 19th
Not much. I worked on the tests and read today. Everyone should read The Invisible Cure by Helen Epstein. It’s fantastic.

Tuesday July 20th
Nothing from the UNCST or President’s office. We are not going to be able to conduct focus groups and I want to scream. I cannot believe the bureaucracy here. Ginger and I are considering writing an article about practicing anthropology in Uganda and the loopholes and hoops you have to finagle. Ugh.

We went on an observation today, and it seems the rains are back. The sky fell out right when we arrived. Afterwards we met up with Sonja and Moses to plan our trip to Jinja. We are going horseback riding on the Nile!! We saw Joan and Rose’s family today as well. I love their coffee and their company.

Wednesday July 21st
I completed the pilot test, and compiled the results for the foundation and for each individual mentor. It actually worked, and the results are revealing about the nature of the program. Ginger and I found our way back to a school we had been to once, by ourselves. The entire time we walked a storm was brewing and the electricity in the air made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. By the time we reached, a serious downpour and thunderstorm ensued. It was difficult to conduct an observation while the rain leaked through the schoolhouse roof. The rain and thunder were loud, and the students had to shift around the room to avoid getting wet. Plus the students were unusually rowdy and we couldn’t even see the board. “Things go kerflooey.” Fortunately the mentor had a long session, so after a while the rain settled down and we could hear better. Tonight we invited a few friends over, including a British woman who lives in our compound. I made spaghetti with homemade sauce from scratch. It was only so-so, but the company was great.

Thursday July 22nd
There was no observation for us to go to today, so we went shopping with Sonja. We had lunch at the same Indian place we went to last time. In the craft market, I had two vendors tell me that I am good at bargaining. I got an acrylic painting on canvas that the artist wanted 120,000 USh for. I ended up paying 55,000 USh. I enjoy bargaining, and I have mastered the body language, teeth clicking, head shaking, and looking/walking away that it takes to reduce prices. If only I could bargain in America.

Friday-Sunday July 23-25
It is my birthday. I am somehow 26 years old.

Both the observation and mentor evaluation meeting were cancelled unbeknownst to us. Ginger went to the observation, and we went to the foundation together after lunch. They basically told us that the meeting was rescheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) and that they “didn’t think of you people.” It would have been nice to know, since we were going to Jinja in the afternoon, but nonetheless, I got the chance to interview the administrators about some of the questions I have about the foundation.

We left for Jinja around 5 on Friday for the weekend. See pictures to appreciate how fantastic our weekend was. We went horseback riding on the Nile, visited Bujagali Falls, had a picnic at the source of the Nile, and explored Ssezibwa Falls. I had the best birthday weekend ever.

Monday July 26th
We are so tired. We tried to write but mostly kept laughing and reliving our weekend. I am going to miss Uganda.

Tuesday July 27th
Ginger and I are talking seriously about coming back. We will leave our proposal to do its thing at the president’s office and try to come back next summer. At the very least, I will be more prepared and comfortable doing fieldwork now that I have experience here. It takes almost a month to adjust.

Wednesday July 28th
We are busy coming up with preliminary recommendations for the foundation before we leave next week. Then I worked on transferring files, and uploading pictures and music onto Ginger’s computer. I was going to buy a flash drive here, but a 4G flash drive is 120,000 USh. That’s like 60 dollars. I argued with the salesman, and told him in America it would cost $15. The Indian salesman at the Uchumi Supermarket told me, “In India, it would cost $10. But this is Uganda.” I should have said, “the jerk store called and they’re running out of YOU!”

I am looking for a flash drive, or a way to save my music files because I decided to leave my PC for Moses to use when he starts his NGO with Sonja. His birthday was Monday and it seems like a great present and something he really needs. They came over for dinner, and I made stuffed green peppers. He was so excited when I told him I was giving him my computer. We tried to go bowling afterward, but the lanes were closed by 9pm. I asked they guy if we could at least have a beverage before we left, but he said no. I said, “Do you just not want our money?” And he said, “No, we don’t.” But it wasn’t malicious, he was just being honest.

Instead we went to a Japanese restaurant in Centenary Park, and smoked a melon and apple flavored hookahs. It was so funny to watch Richard smoke it, because he has never smoked tobacco before. He was blowing the smoke out of his nose rapidly like a bull. We had a great time there, and it was actually more fun than we would have had bowling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I don't want to leave.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 2nd - July 11th: The last days of the World Cup

July 2nd, Friday
Today we did not do very much. We graded the tests that we got back from the mentors, and they turned out to be a good indication of how the program is going, with very few hang-ups. I am so pleased that I developed an instrument that actually worked. We went to Obbligato’s with Rachel to celebrate (the place I really liked with the traditional music and dancers). We watched Ghana lose and were so sad that there will be no African country in the final matches of the World Cup.

July 3rd, Saturday
I went to Garden City today to buy something to wear to church tomorrow. Then, we met up with Richard at the coffee shop. Joan was not working; she is in Entebbe training servers at the new café they built there. We decided to meet Moses, Sonja, Richard, Deo, Jude, and Silas at the BBQ Lounge, a German restaurant, to watch Germany play Argentina. It was a very exciting match, and Germany obliterated Argentina (4-0). Sonja (who is German) was ecstatic, and her mom predicted the score, too! Afterwards we had dinner (Chinese food) at this hotel/restaurant. It was amazing, and we shared a feast. It was such a fun way to spend Saturday.

July 4th, Sunday
Happy Fourth of July!!! It’s amazing how you do not think about American holidays after awhile. We meant to bring something “American” (i.e. red, white and blue) to Mary’s house before church, but we completely forgot. We ate cassava and sweet potato for breakfast at Mary’s and they gave us sugar cane for desert. Desert for breakfast is new to me.

Church lasted over 3 hours. We went to a Pentecostal church in Mary’s neighborhood. The whole thing was very similar to the services I’ve been to when my grandfather was a preacher for the Assembly of God, with a few slight variations. The biggest differences were the amount of time (3 hours long), the fact that two people preached at the same time (one who translated English/Luganda back and forth), and it was somewhat more tame than the services I’ve been to in Greenville, South Carolina. In all, it was a neat experience. I can see why Ugandans easily adopted and indigenized this denomination of Christianity. They incorporate many songs and dance along to them, something that is already a huge part of their culture. It was really fun.

Afterwards, we met more family, and we looked at wedding photos of Judith’s recent ceremonies. She had an introduction (traditional ceremony where the two families meet and discuss the dowry/brideprice and celebrate) as well as a Christian wedding in a church. Each ceremony was highly elaborate and I would have been exhausted after having essentially TWO huge weddings in a row. She was a gorgeous bride, though, and did not look stressed out about the events in the least. After photos, we had lunch at Mary’s with all three of her children: Judith, Julian, and Julius. It was a huge feast, again. This time she added kalo to the list of items we had for lunch. I decided I really do not like kalo, no matter how interesting it is as a food source. Halfway through, Ginger got up to use the restroom, and instead of walking all the way around where we were eating, she jumped over the plates on the ground. No one reprimanded her, but I felt everyone inhale sharply like she did something wrong. Oops. The only thing we got corrected for was not eating enough food, again. Once we finished, we took photographs outside and said goodbye. We told Mary how people laugh at us on the matatus when we say “masau” in Luganda. She laughed so hard I thought she might faint. We told her that’s exactly why we do not like to say it. J Haha. After we got on the taxi, we got off early in Ntinda to walk home, we were SO FULL.

July 5th, Monday
Today we went to the foundation early to work on the UNCST papers and figure out where the President’s Office is located. No one seems to know. I am becoming really frustrated with the lack of progress and I am so worried we will not be able to talk to the children at all before it’s time to leave. Oh, bureaucracy! We finished that part of work at the foundation, resolving to come back tomorrow once we have more assistance from a member of parliament. I decided to go home and Ginger stuck around to interview some staff at the foundation. I got all the way home and realized Ginger had the keys. “Shtoof!” In other news, Ginger set fire to the toaster today. I think some of the broken off crumbs at the bottom got a little too hot. At first, I thought it was just someone burning trash, because we often smell smoke. It was controlled, though, and she put it out quickly. It was actually pretty funny.

July 6th, Tuesday
Today we went to Parliament. We met an MP who is going to try to help us by figuring out exactly which President’s office we need to go to, and what other steps we need to take to track the progress of our application. I am getting really discouraged.

We went to the coffee shop to wait until it was close to 5 p.m. because we were meeting Rachel to have dinner at her mother’s house. Ginger decided to go home to get the camera, since we forgot it, and I waited for her at the coffee shop. She came back close to an hour later, and told me she got all the way there before she realized she did not have the keys. Shtoof!!!!

We went to Rachel’s house and her mother, grandmother, sister, two children and a cousin were there to greet us. Her brother, Andrew, came a bit later. Her mother and grandmother are very kind, and immediately showed us photographs of their large family. Rachel’s mother had 10 children, including her, and I recognized many of them in the photos. For dinner, her mother had cooked a huge meal. She had an entire chicken stuffed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, rice, and potatoes which was wrapped inside of banana leaves. This form of cooking is known as “Luwambo,” wherein the food is boiled inside of banana leaves in a pot. She had luwambo chicken stew, matoke, g-nut sauce, more rice, cucumbers, and pineapple. It was the one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s hard to rival my Mom’s cooking, and most of the women in my family, but this was absolutely delicious. I was proud of myself for eating so much of it, but apparently the amount I consumed was still not enough. Rachel translated when her Mom asked if there was not enough sugar in the juice because we only drank one glass. I never eat enough to please people, which is amazing to me because I really like food. Rachel’s Mom gave each of us presents before we parted ways. She made us handwoven mats, small enough to be table runners, but the same kind of mats people use to sit on the floor or outside. I LOVE mine so much.

July 7th, Wednesday
Today Moses accompanied us to our second parent’s meeting. He turns out to be a great fit for our project, and he is more than qualified to work with us. He helped us out immensely by translating for parents, because the supervisors and mentors from the foundation did not speak language. We received consent from all the parents, so now we have 2 schools we can use as case studies. We are just waiting for the go-ahead from the president’s office…

Afterwards, we agreed to meet Moses and Sonja at the BBQ Lounge to watch the Germany vs Uruguay match. Silas and Jude came over beforehand and we played cards. I was surprised at how fast they have both learned to play Gin Rummy. Jude even beats us now; he is really good at the game. Germany ended up losing the match, but it was still fun to hang out with friends.

July 8th, Thursday
They are paving roads in Ntinda, which is necessary and it’s nice that the potholes are being filled in, but it means we can’t keep time very well. As we traveled to meet Mary at the taxi park for a parents meeting, and I was really nervous we were going to be super late and upset Mary, who is ALWAYS on time. But we were all stuck in the same jam, so we were all a bit late.

We had our third parent’s meeting, also a success, and figured out where to board a taxi to take us for the fourth (and final) parent’s meeting on Saturday. Then, Sonja, Moses, and Richard came over to our house for dinner and to exchange pictures. We had a nice time talking about the non-profit organization Sonja and Moses hope to establish in Kampala. I wish I had money to donate to their cause because they are both so motivated, and they are caring, intelligent people who I know will go far once they get started. It’s exciting to see someone develop plans for an NGO from the grassroots level. Ginger cooked dinner, which was rice and vegetables, but she used her “Tony Chachere’s Creole Spice” that she brought from home. Everyone enjoyed it, and it was really delicious.

July 9th, Friday
Today we split up again, and Ginger went to an observation while I stayed home working with Moses. We worked on coding, grading tests, organizing consent forms and assent forms, and entering information into a database. We are really running out of time quickly now and I am starting to get sad that my time here is almost finished. How has so much time passed so quickly??

We had girl’s night with Sonja and Joan. We all met at the coffee shop, while Joan was still working. We had sandwiches there, and then we walked to the Grand Imperial Hotel to see live music. The musicians were really talented, but every now and then they sing a really old hokey song like Bette Midler’s song, “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The power went out a few times, but the band kept singing and playing the drums and tambourine. Keeping the beat in the darkness. It was awesome and tons of fun.

July 10th, Saturday
Today we got up early and went to our fourth and final parent’s meeting. In retrospect, we were lucky that the first three went swimmingly, because this one was a letdown. Only one parent came and all the students said they were boarders, so they never go home until it’s a holiday, and thus they could not possibly take the invitations home to their parents. I’m not sure how this mix-up occurred but it was not very encouraging. Plus, we spent money on cakes and sodas for 80 people. We could not return the cakes, but we successfully returned the sodas to the local store. We gave the mentor and supervisors the surplus cakes to take home to their families. It’s actually not a complete catastrophe, because we have so little time left that 3 schools might be all we can handle. I just feel bad for the students who thought they were going to be a part of the case study and now might feel let down. They get so excited when we visit them, and this school was particularly great. Maybe next year? J We went to watch the conciliatory soccer match between Germany and Uruguay with some friends at “Just Kicking” then came home.

July 11th, Sunday
For breakfast, Ginger made biscuits in the oven, but it is close to impossible to control the temperature so they did not rise properly. Instead they were round balls, which tasted good but did not look like biscuits at all. We referred to them as biscuit-balls. A friend, Pharouk, stopped by for awhile. He is currently studying in Tampa, Florida, and home for summer break. He went to Dubai for a month recently, and I am jealous.

We were very tired but we really wanted to go to the final match to watch Spain play the Netherlands. We decided to go somewhere we’d never been, the Rock Catalina. We had great seats because we got there early and we sat right in front of the big projector screen. The air was electric with excitement from the crowd, and I felt connected to everyone there. It has been really neat to be in Africa for the World Cup games because it’s the first time the World Cup has been held on African soil. People were betting, badgering each other, blowing their vuvuzela’s and having a great time. Two minutes toward the end of the match, everyone around us starting getting text messages saying there was a bomb at the Rugby Club. At first no one believed it, but then the texts got more frantic. The game was almost over, but people began leaving, when they heard news of the second bomb at the Ethiopian Village. I was uncertain what was going on, all I knew was we probably needed to leave because it likely was not safe if someone bombed the Rugby Club. I could not believe it because we have watched at least 2 matches at the Rugby Club and it just did not seem possible that something like that could happen there. On the way home, people were scurrying home from all the restaurants along the way. When we got home we could hear the emergency sirens and ambulances reverberating throughout the city. I was exhausted, and somewhat rattled so I went straight to bed without knowing exactly what happened.

Friday, July 2, 2010

June 22-July 1: Ginger's Birthday Week!!

Tuesday June 22nd
Nothing much today. We worked and wrote all day about our weekend, went to the store, and worked on finances. Surprisingly, we are spending well within our budget.

Wednesday June 23rd
We split up today because writing is taking us so very long. Ginger went to an evaluation and I stayed home working. Later, I traveled into town alone, and met Ginger at a Chinese restaurant. I decided to be brave and order meat. I like the atmosphere of the restaurant, but the food was gross. I felt bad because Ginger was so excited, but I did not like mine. It was like fake, processed, rubbery chicken. And the meals don’t come with rice. I thought all Chinese food comes with rice? How bizarre, right? From now on I will stick to ordering vegetarian.

When we got home we divided up tasks. I worked on the test we are piloting for the foundation. I really like constructing surveys. Who knew? We are going to have measurable data soon, and we will be able to provide the foundation with an evaluation tool. Hopefully the test will go smoothly!!

Thursday June 24th
I finally finished writing, and was preparing to leave for a school evaluation when the supervisor called and cancelled. Instead, I went to Mulago Hospital to use the printer/copier at the School of Public Health. At some internet cafes, if you want to print, the employees access your flash drive for you. The same is true at the Mulago printing services. It’s frustrating to try to explain what you want to print (what folder/title) sometimes. When I came home, I prepared envelopes for the mentors to give out the pilot test, and organized parental, adult, and child consent forms for our parents meeting in the morning.

Our friends Jude and Peter came over, and we watched Hot Tub Time Machine. I realized there are lots of homosexual scenes that are “funny” in American comedies. It really is not that funny. Afterwards we played cards, Gin Rummy, and Jude and I conspired to throw a surprise party for Ginger on Wednesday with a cake, instead of celebrating on Friday. She has no idea!!!
P.S. I am so thankful that my step-dad, Mike, handed me a deck of cards as I walked out the door to the airport. They are such a hit here! Yay for serendipity!

Friday June 25th
This morning we got on the wrong matatu and realized it once we failed to recognize our surroundings. I was on some other planet, thinking about the parents meeting we were on our way to conduct, and the mentor meeting after. It seemed like a lot to try to do in one day.
We took a boda to meet Mary, and another boda to the school. Most women sit sidesaddle on their bodas here, in an effort to maintain their dignity. Women almost all wear skirts, too. Mary is comfortable with herself, and therefore, hikes up her skirt to straddle her boda for safety’s sake. She will ask the driver to lean the bike way over, so she doesn’t have to lift her leg up very high. I think it’s great. She is also as afraid of riding them as I am. Haha.

The parents meeting went surprisingly well. The students decorated the school with bouquets of fresh cut flowers, signs welcoming us, and toilet-paper-streamers were hung from the trees and windows. I felt so honored. I am not used to being treated so formally and welcomed like royalty. The students had songs with accompanying dance moves that they sang and danced for us. The first song welcomed the visitors, the second was about unity in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the last was asking for help in the fight. The performance brought tears to my eyes. I was so moved, as we stood there in what I like to the call the firing squad line. We stand against the wall of a school house in a line, facing the students and staff to introduce ourselves at most observations we go to. We often end up answering questions in such a line, but today we were just observing their welcoming ceremony.

Then, they sang the national anthem. Their beautiful voices were interrupted by the sound of an angry chicken, and I looked to my right to see two young men wrestling a chicken to the ground. Ginger said, “Don’t look they’re probably going to slaughter it.” Despite her warning, I could not look away. I even got my camera ready. After the song, they carried the chicken hanging upside down my its talons. It was alive, but not struggling, just clucking away. I thought, “are they seriously about to slaughter a chicken in front of all of us without a bucket to catch the blood?” Then, I thought, “Why are they only going to slaughter one, there are over 70 people here! That won’t be enough meat. Is the chicken just for us?!” My mind was running wild, and I had the camera ready, but the director of the school explained that the school generates income by raising chickens, making paper necklaces, and signs. They use the chickens as a learning exercise as well. Oh. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

The parents meeting went extremely well. We walked around and assisted the parents, answering their questions. Many asked to me to help them come to America, send their children to America, or with help paying their school fees. So many people here need money or assistance just sending their children to school. One man who is a guardian of 5 children asked me how the ones he can’t pay for will benefit from SAS. I told him we are hoping to see whether or not students in the program are sharing the knowledge with children who are not in school. It’s sad. Then, we had a meeting with all the mentors. Ginger described my speech explaining how to proctor the test like “blowing a dandelion in the wind.” It felt like that to me to, as they are not very active listeners and I spoke to a sea of blank faces. I hope it works. Either way, the ball is rolling on interviews, parental consent for focus groups, and our pilot test. Woo-hoo!

Saturday June 26th
Today we went shopping. I really needed some jeans to protect me from mosquitoes, and we both needed a break from work. We went to the grocery store to buy cake mix and cheese afterward. They take your bag from you at the entrance, and at nice grocery stores they give you a number for the cubby hole your stuff is in. It’ good that they do that, because otherwise I would walk out and forget my bag.

Later, I went out with Rachel and she took me to the coolest place. I think the place is called Abracadabra, and they have a dance floor in front of a stage. The curtain was pulled-to and they had a projector showing the USA vs. Ghana match. The game was particularly intense, and I felt odd being the only American, so I cheered for Ghana. I honestly would prefer if Ghana won, since the World Cup is in Africa for the first time. Ghana was the only African country still in the running. After they won, the live music began. They have traditional dancers, and songs, but they have a huge band with people playing a multitude of instruments: brass, drums, guitar, keyboard, bongos, tambourines, flutes, etc. It was so much fun. I was the only muzungu there, and I danced anyway. You cannot come to Africa and not dance. They had specific traditional dances for each tribe, and the dancers changed outfits accordingly. You can tell who belongs to which tribe, because people who are not members of the tribe leave the dance floor for that song. As far as the Ugandan night scene goes, this was the most fun night I have had. So many other places play rap songs and booty-dance. This place was awesome, and I loved it. My friend Rachel kept telling people I was a Ugandan who traveled away for school, so that is why I have such a funny accent. Haha

Sunday June 27th
Today Ginger went out to watch Germany play with Sonja and Moses. Before she left I texted all of our friends to invite them to her surprise party on Wednesday. I stayed home and made banana bread, which burnt on the bottom. You cannot maintain temperature easily with our gas stove. The bread was really good, though, minus the bottoms. Sort of like muffin tops!

Monday June 28th
I am so excited about Ginger’s birthday. I think everyone is going to come! Today, we stopped by Roses house to ask her to take our water cistern to fill it at the store. She offered to do it when we bought it, with her car. We decided to bring her some banana bread, and I think she liked it. She would break of a piece, and toss it underhand to various family members to try. Her mother-in-law was visiting from Eritrea.

Her mother-in-law is very interesting. She has long curly black hair, and the most interesting hairstyle. The way it is braided reminds me of the way we used to wear our hair for dance competitions. Instead of French braids, however, she has twists that are raised up. Beside the large twists are a series of 3 tiny braids. The braids/twists stop halfway up by rubberbands, and the rest of her hair flows in big wavy curls down past her shoulders. She is striking and exotic looking. I enjoyed talking to them and we had coffee again, which is so delicious. Ginger and I realized we do not know much about Eritrean etiquette and we were uncertain if we overstayed our welcome. It is hard to leave Rose’s house quickly. They gave us finger-food she brought from Eritrea. We tried some toasted oat-type thing, and another dried fruit with an enormous seed in the middle. I put the whole thing in my mouth without realizing it had a seed, and Rose told me not to bite down. I probably would have broken a tooth. It’s funny, they just throw the seeds on the table, without placing them on a plate. I like that.

We went to Mulago hospital to make copies again, because the parents requested copies of the consent forms. We went by the craft shop that supports patients with HIV and others receiving various care at the hospital. I bought lots of presents. J Then, we went to the café, which also helps support patients. I like to try to support them by purchasing crafts and food in the café. We had bagels, too! (Bagels are non-existent in most places, including the grocery).

Tuesday June 29th
Today we met with Moses for a training session. He is going to work with us on our project. I think he is going to be a great fit, and I am really excited to have a male research partner who is informed about Ugandan culture. His perspective is imperative to our work here.

Later, we all met up to go to the Ugandan National Theatre to celebrate his new employment. Sonja, Moses, Ginger, Richard and I all met for dinner beforehand. We ate at this great Indian place, and we all got vegetarian plates (minus Richard). We shared like we were family. We all dug in to try everyone else’s food. It was delicious. None of us finished, except for Richard, and I honestly do not know how he fit all that rice inside of him. We asked him if he had a food baby, and then Ginger had to explain what that phrase means again. Haha. Afterwards we saw live music outside at the Theatre. The band (Percussion Discussion) was pretty good, but nowhere near as talented and vibrant as the band I saw with Rachel.

Wednesday June 30th
Happy Birthday Ginger! I left with the phone to work with the foundation. I made a series of phone calls and ran out of airtime, so I had to buy more. I am not used to having to constantly pay for a phone. There is no way to do it online, so you buy scratch off cards with minutes at booths on the road. It looks like the surprise party is a go! Jude is picking up some Black Forrest cake from the Sheraton Hotel. I am going to take her to dinner, then suggest we meet up with him when he calls. Everyone will be waiting at Fatboyz, this bar down the street from our house.
Work-wise, I got a lot done today. I interviewed an administrator at the foundation, and went to two schools with Robert. We have successfully planned 3 more parent meetings. Now all we need is for the UNCST to approve our project so we can conduct focus groups with children!
The Thai place we went to for her birthday dinner was excellent. It had gorgeous landscaping and swift service. The food was outstanding. I was so happy it went so well. Ginger had a mango-martini to celebrate and it was out of this world tasty! A few people kept calling asking where we were, and one guy sent a text saying he couldn’t make it, which Ginger read. I turned off the phone completely, so that she would not be totally aware of what was going on. I tried to pretend like I did not know they were up to. I told her we should leave to unravel the mystery! Then, we went to Fatboyz. Everyone came, minus a few people who were sick. It was so much fun. The DJ played Ginger the happy birthday song, we ate cake, and danced. Several people brought her presents, and even people we know have very little money came with gifts. It was so nice. One guy said he bought her something to remember him by, when she opened it there was a wooden carving of a gorilla inside the bag. We laughed and laughed. I’m so very glad she had a great birthday and that she was surprised. You can tell how great a friend she is and how many people love her, even after they’ve only known her a short while.

Thursday July 1st
How is it already July!? I worked today in the field, and Ginger stayed home to work on job applications. We are running out of time!

I went to the foundation, made more copies of invitations, and picked up some of the pilot tests. Four mentors turned them in early (they are due tomorrow). I flipped through them, and it looks like they are filled out properly. Some of the seeds from our “dandelion” made it safely!! After work, I went to the National Theatre and bought more presents. As soon as our research project gets approved to interview children, we are going to be working non-stop and I want to be sure I have stuff to bring home before it is too late for leisure activities. We worked all night writing and I feel so hopeful that we will get everything done on time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 15th through June 22nd

Tuesday June 15th
Today the power went out shortly after Grace and Annette arrived around 10 am. We left the dark house after we ate lunch to meet our friend Richard to discuss travel plans for this weekend. He agreed to take us to visit his family in Bulisa, which is in the western part of the country near Lake Albert. We decided we could go to Hoima to observe a few of the schools there, then after spending two nights in Hoima, he would meet up with us on Friday night. Then we would go to Bulisa, and he would go with us to Murchison Falls from there. We also invited our friends Moses and Sonja to accompany us. We are so excited! After lunch we went to his workplace and met his co-workers. When we got home the power was still off and it didn’t come back on until almost 8:30 pm. It was unfortunate because we had to dispose of a few things in the fridge that got moldy.

Wednesday June 16th
Today we found out Sonja and Moses may not be able to come. Poor Sonja broke her toe a few weeks back, but she banged it again last weekend. It is rather painful and difficult for her to walk. We told her we really might not have time to go another weekend for 3-4 days like this, plus we already arranged to meet supervisors, mentors, and students in Hoima. We will be disappointed if she decides not to come. L

We went on an observation with Robert today to another school. The school is in a beautiful area, with scenery that could be out of a movie. There are many trees and flowers, with benches and pastures you have to walk past. There are approximately 4 schools in square across from each other, and they are all on gorgeous land. After the observation, I walked down into the playground area of the school yard and I was swarmed by students. Many of them wanted to see what my skin feels like and they wanted to know all about the US. I asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up and many said doctors, teachers, and pilots. They were so cute.

Then, we went to Mary’s house since she invited us to have our meeting there this week. She is so generous, she even prepared a big meal for us again. We all sat down to eat, and her son Julius told us he’d seen us in town the day before but he was too far away to greet us. I guess we are easy to spot. Mary said she’d learned her lesson about giving us portions that were too large for us to eat, but she still scooped out more food than we could finish. It was delicious. After our dinner, we discussed our upcoming plans to hold meetings to get parental consent for focus groups. It’s an ongoing process. Mary said that parents will come if they know they will be given a little soda and some cake. So we created a budget to feed parents, children, and staff at 4 parental meetings. It’s actually not going to be as expensive as I thought. I suggested buying 2 liters instead of individual glass bottles, but Mary explained that it is culturally inappropriate. Apparently, they don’t do it that way at functions. I would have liked to stay longer to chat, but we really had to go since we were leaving in the morning for Hoima, so we thanked her and said goodbye. We came home and packed excitedly for our trip!

Thursday June 17th
We woke up early, and left for the clinic where we were meeting Andrew. His father lives in Hoima, and so he was accompanying us. He is also works at SAS, so we needed him to come along for the observations. Jude picked us up from our compound so we didn’t have to walk around with our book bags. In the car, he told us that the night before the security guard had slept in his car. Apparently he left it unlocked, and when he got inside the car he checked his phone. It was dark out and the first thing he saw when he looked at his phone was a rifle protruding from the backseat. He was terrified at first, but then he realized it was the security guard. Haha. The guard was “guarding” his car!

When we got to the clinic, Andrew told us one of his sisters, Rachel, was joining us in our journey. People sort of invite themselves places when it sounds like fun, especially relatives. The four of us took a big Link bus to Hoima. We got on, and the air was stagnant as we sat waiting. People climbed on selling stuff and shoving it in your face. One guy dropped a loaf of bread on my head. I was feeling really claustrophobic because they were blocking the aisles and pushing into me and shoving things in my face. It was so hot on the bus, too. We thought that they would all exit the bus, however, once we got started one woman stayed on. She walked up and down trying to sell tooth whitening stuff and mints to the same people over and over. Her voice was soon drowned out by the extremely loud dance music that started to play once we really got going. The bus has around 10 subwoofers and we were booming down the road. I took my headphones off because I couldn’t hear my own music over the music they were playing. It was so loud, but no one complained. In fact, one guy kept singing along really loudly behind me.

The bus hurtled down the road like an extremely fast bullet. I have never been more aware of my own mortality. The potholes and rocks we hit caused all the passengers to lurch forward and bounce around in our seats. It was like a really bad rollercoaster. I completely went airborne, clearing my seat every 5 minutes or so. I thought about those fat burning devices they sell on infomercials late at night that jiggle away stomach fat. I think riding these giant buses might have the same effect.

Somehow, we all managed to half doze as we sped through the country heading towards Hoima. After around three hours, out of nowhere Rachel sat up and said we needed to get off right then. I had trouble pulling my bag down from the overhead compartment, and I was yanking it out really hard because we had to get off so quickly. From there we took bodas to their sister’s house and made calls to the mentors and their father. Rachel and Andrew both have 2 cell phones, as most people here do. There is often a delay before a call can be made, in which they switch out SIM cards and batteries among 2-4 phones. Ginger and I ate a granola bar, the first thing we’d eaten all day. Then, a supervisor walked into the yard. She told us that the place where we were meeting (Meeting Point- an organization for people with HIV/AIDS) ended up being within walking distance to where their sister lived.

Many mentors were eager to meet us, and there were somewhere between 10 and 15 mentors at Meeting Point waiting on us to arrive. We had an impromptu focus group with them immediately after we arrived. We were not prepared to speak formally and ask questions to so many people at the same time. It was the textbook example of how NOT to conduct a focus group. People kept arriving late, we had no audio recorder, no flipchart, no blackboard to write on, no structured questions in logical order, and no leader/rapporteur. Yet, it ended up going extremely well, despite our utter lack of preparation for a focus group. The mentors provided us with so much information, and it was really nice to get to know how the program is working in Hoima, since it is new there. After that, the mentors wanted us to go to all of their schools, despite the fact that the time was approaching 4 p.m. and schools are finished around 5. I was glad to see they all wanted their schools to be observed. We ended up making it to two schools that were in walking distance before school was over for the day.

Then, we all walked back to their sister’s house. There was a mix-up about where we were staying, and then we decided to walk somewhere to eat. We walked to a hotel, and the server had to check if they had food. He came back and said they had chicken, pork, fish or chips (fries). I ordered fish and so did Ginger. Then, a severe thunderstorm started and there was lightning striking in really close proximity to where we sat outside under an awning. We waited for a long time and Rachel made a joke that they must be chasing her pig in the back to slaughter it for her meal. After well over an hour, the food finally came out. The waiter was carrying a plate with an entire deep-fried fish complete with eyes and fins. I grew up on the lake so eating fish with bones is familiar to me, but not usually with the head attached. Right after the waiter brought out Ginger’s whole fish, and the rest of the plates, the power went out. So there we were, trying to eat a whole fish in the dark during a severe thunderstorm. We both were laughing, and Ginger gave up using her fork because she found it easier to pick out bones in the dark with her fingers. Afterwards, we spent the night at Andrew and Rachel’s (Mr. Tibagwa) father’s house. He lives way out in the country in Hoima. They use solar power for their electricity, and it had not been sunny enough for us to charge our phone or camera.

Friday June 18th
Today is my sister Sarah’s birthday. I wish I could call her or email, but I am completely disconnected. We went to a school where Mr. Tibagwa’s wife teaches. It is 100 yards from their backdoor. The school is a nursery school, which is like kindergarten. The students used bottle caps and pencils to form letters, numbers and shapes.

After that, we had breakfast: bread, toasted peanuts, and a boiled egg. They gave us this really delicious tea. There were no tea bags so you just pour the leaves into your cup and they sink to the bottom. When Ginger cracked her egg open, a dead baby chick was inside of it. She tried to cover it back up with her shell and looked around not knowing where to put it. It smelled quite foul, and they brought her another one quickly, taking it away. Since the chickens and roosters roam freely in Uganda, the eggs often get fertilized. We are not used to that in America because of the chicken farms that provide most of our eggs. I hadn’t cracked mine open yet, and I was nervous mine would be fertilized too, but it wasn’t.

We said goodbye, and went on to meet the mentors for more observations. A man from New Vision, a Ugandan newspaper, was waiting for us at Meeting Point. We all spoke to him, and he wants to do an article here about the IBES programs expansion throughout Uganda. I’m stoked! Then we went on for 2 more observations, which required a lot of walking. We decided to rent a hotel room so that we would not impose on Mr. TIbagwa another night, and ended up booking one at the same hotel we ate at the night before. Then, we walked into town to meet Moses, Sonja, and Richard who arrived in the late afternoon. We watched a match, and decided to go to bed and get up early to head to Bulisa.

Saturday June 19th
We met up with Sonja, Moses and Richard early. We were on a matatu by 8:10 a.m. but it kept driving around Hoima trying to pick up people to fill the taxi to the maximum capacity of 14 passengers. Once we were at an uncomfortable number of 19 passengers, I asked how many they would stop at. Sonja said she saw a matatu with 30 children on it before. At one point they tied a bunch of fish to the outside, and you could smell the fish permeating the taxi. I found out later they tie the fish to the matatu to keep them cool in the wind as we speed everywhere. At one point, we stopped to let people on and the driver and conducter disappeared. After a while, we spotted them up the road buying roasted corn. They were just standing there eating it slowly while we sat squished on the taxi. Richard got off to buy some for us to share too, and it was delicious.

We reached the rift valley and it is absolutely beautiful. You could see Lake Albert as we drove down the mountainside. Breathtaking. At the bottom we stopped and I could see a monkey in the trees. I was trying to take its picture, and capture the image of a baboon wandering by, when I realized we were really squeezing people in the matatu. When we started to move again, I counted 25 men, women and children on the bus, many of them carrying large bags with items to sell in (or bring to) Bulisa. Moses joked that next someone would try to bring on a cow. Apparently it’s not uncommon to see a cow tied up in the back seat of cars, but I have not seen that yet. We stopped for a guy trying to bring on a goat, and almost let him on the matatu. But there were 25 of us already. I was grateful they did not let him on.

We met Richards family in Bulisa, and they were very nice. They live without electricity and running water, in a really rural area. It is really beautiful out there. Their homes are made of clay and they have grass thatched roofs. I had never been inside a true grass hut before. They are surprisingly cool in the hot weather. We sat in some chairs in the hut, and chickens came inside to check out the visitors. Then, a goat crawled in the window to look at us. It was so neat. I was getting anxious to go to Murchison Falls National Park, which is around 20 kilometers from where his family lives, but we had to meet his grandmother and mother first. We walked to their house, and met the family. We ate rice and drank warm sodas before we finally left.

The park ended up being somewhat disheartening. DON’T EVER GO TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK! We had to pay a driver 50K Ugandan shillings (USh) to drive us around 6 miles to the park from Bulisa. Then, they ripped us off at the entrance gate. It’s 5K USh for a Ugandan, but 66K USh for a tourist. They said it’s $30 US but then tried to give us a poor exchange rate, to charge even more. It’s an additional 35K for the car you come In, even if it is just dropping you off. There is no way to not drive into the park, because it is so far away, and the gate is miles from any of the sites inside the park, which are also spread apart from each other. Plus you have to pay 5K USh for the driver to enter the park.

Later Ginger and I decided we were mostly upset about the cost of the park because it is close to impossible for a Ugandan (many of whom are poor and do not have cars) to actually visit it. The hotels are over $100 US a night, and it costs close to $200 US to go on safaris. If you don’t have relatives in Bulisa, there is nowhere for you to stay outside the park. The boat ride on the Nile to Murchison Falls is $20 US per person. It’s a small fortune for a Ugandan to get there and go in the first place, without all the extra added fees for excursions. While in sum, we did not spend a large amount of money by American standards, it was very pricey by Ugandan standards. Americans are fortunate to have so many accessible and low cost national and state parks preserved for our enjoyment.

We managed to make it onto a pontoon boat, the last ride of the day. From the boat we had a beautiful view of the banks on the Nile. We saw warthogs, water buck, kingfishers and all kinds of birds, hippopotami, African elephants, African buffalo, and Nile Crocodiles. Seeing elephants made my miss my Mom. I also thought of my Sito, who loved elephants so much. The Nile is amazing, and I was already planning my next trip to the river while we were still on the boat! (just not at Murchison!) Of course, one of my dreams has been fulfilled, but it was bittersweet because of the situation. We came back as the sun was setting, and I began to feel so relaxed. I love water.

We finally found a ride back, after asking many different people to drive us. Most wanted 70K USh to take us six miles to Bulisa. We asked a white guy, who ended up being the park manager, and he wanted 100K USh. People were clearly taking advantage of us because they knew we had no other options. We paid the 70K and vowed to never return to Murchison Falls. When we finally got back to Richards mothers house, we ate posho and drank warm milk. I desperately wanted some vegetables. We sat outside in the moonlight talking. It is gorgeous out there. Then, we walked to the grass huts, to find a place to sleep. Ginger and I slept on the same cot. There were three in the small grass hut, and all 5 of us slept there. In the night, a drunk man barged in and asked if there was somewhere to sleep. I vaguely remember it, and it seemed like a dream. The hut was so cool that I got cold in the night.

Sunday June 20th
We woke up to the sound of goats. They must have been hungry because they were mehhh-ing really loud. We sat outside enjoying the cool morning air, and tried to write in our journals because we’d gotten so very behind in the past 3 days. As soon as we took out pens and paper, the small children in the village came over to watch us. They watched us very intently for a while, inching closer until they were sitting with us. I let them draw in the back of my journal. I thought what they drew was interesting: flowers, sunshine, tables, chairs, a garbage truck, a grass hut, matatus, a tree, and numbers. One girl did not want to share the pen to let others draw. I was trying to tell her to share, but they do not speak English so I had to take the pen from her and give it to someone else. In the end, I gave them the pen to keep. I hope they share it.

For breakfast we had chapatti and warm “chai.” All tea is called chai, although this was mostly milk with a few tea leaves at the bottom. After breakfast, we put on sunscreen because it is already painfully hot in the sun by 10 a.m. in Bulisa. Richard and Moses both put asked to use the sunscreen. I thought that was funny. Then, we walked to Lake Albert.

Richard said it was not far, but I am beginning to distrust his sense of time and distance. It seemed really far, and we could not even see the lake for a long while as we walked. Luckily the sun was behind us. I enjoyed the walk because it is so rural out there, and there are only a few huts scattered about. The land is mostly used for herding cattle, and you can see young boys directing them where to go. It was awesome. It occurred to me how in America, the land would be considered prime real estate, but here it is undeveloped and without power lines, running water and paved roads. It’s almost better this way. . I relished taking deep breaths of fresh air, and the quiet afternoon in nature. It made me wish we were not staying in Kampala the whole time we are here. The fumes and traffic are overbearing compared to the way I felt in that field. I am not a city girl.

When we reached the lake, there was not much of a beach. Richard braved the reeds and grasses at the water’s edge, and walked out a bit far. I was praying he would not get bitten by a snake. You can see the Democratic Republic of the Congo across the water. The view is amazing from the water’s edge. We walked toward houses we could see in the distance, looking for a beach. We walked right into a fishing village, which was apparent by the smell before we saw any fish. I was fascinated by the fishing nets. They use the heels off of colorful flip-flops as floaters, and round stones as sinkers. The boats were almost all blue. Many fisherman were gutting fish they retrieved from their nets that morning. We walked through the village, and there were people preparing lunch, and fish to sell in town. I say town, but it’s really just a handful of shops. There were salted fish drying in the sun, and fish smoking over charcoal pits. It was the most remote and isolated place I’ve ever been to.I loved it.

After taking pictures with them, we walked back into Bulisa. We went for lunch at one of the shops, and had matoke, fish, and kalo. Kalo is sticky, almost like silly puddy. It is made from millet and cassava. To eat it, you break of a small chunk, then you roll it into a ball, make an indention in the center and use the tiny “bowl” to scoop soup. It has absolutely no taste. I thought it was interesting, but not very tasty.

After lunch, we took a matatu headed toward Masindi. After a coupld of hours, the matatu sputtered to a stop in the middle of a sugar cane field. Apparently, someone siphoned gas out of the tank where the driver parks at night. A passenger walked toward a gas station a ways back. So there we sat, in the middle of nowhere. I was getting agitated because it was approaching 3 p.m. and we had to get on a Link bus by 4 in Masindi to take to Kampala. Finally the guy came back with the gas in a small jeri can of gas. It did not look like enough gas to me, and I thought we might run out again, but it got us to Masindi where we stopped for more gas. Even in the city, matatus will pull off to get gas, or put air in their tires, while you sit there waiting. It’s bothersome when you are in a hurry.

The Link bus was much more comfortable than a matatu, although still uncomfortable by American standards. By the time we reached Kampala three hours later, Ginger really had to “make a short call” (go to the bathroom). So we got off the bus, not knowing where we were at all. I felt a wave of relief wash over me because we had been cramped for close to 6 hours in speeding, bumpy, scary transportation. The relief immediately faded, however, as I stepped directly into sewage. It was dark and I could not see it before it was too late. My foot felt warm and I could smell the odor. I was praying that I did not have a scab from a mosquito bite anywhere near the area on my foot with waste on it. We walked to a gas station, but could not find the bathroom for Ginger. The moment was becoming crucial that she relieve herself, so she used the drainage urinal for men. I guarded the open wall. Then, our friend Jude called and came to pick us up from where we were. He said it was not safe to walk from there. When we got home I skyped Mike and my Dad to tell them Happy Father’s Day. It’s funny how you forget about Hallmark Holidays when you visit isolated fishing villages and sleep in grass huts.

Monday June 21
Today we ate nsenene. Ugandans call them grasshoppers, but online it says they are actually bush crickets. They taste like soft shelled crap shells after they’ve been deep-fried. I believe I would enjoy them more if they were sautéed with garlic or onions. We dipped them in ketchup to add some flavor. I want to try them with barbeque or cocktail sauce. After lunch, we wrote for hours trying to catch up.

Later we met Jude and Augustin to watch the game. We laughed and talked about Youtube clips. They have not seen many of them, and Ginger and I could hardly control our laughter as we described “The whistles go wooo,” “I wanna know where the gold at,” and “the grape stompers.” They have seen “David goes to the dentist.” Then, we were hungry because we never ate dinner. They walked us to a fast food place called “I feel like Chicken Tonight.” The name prompted me to sing the commercial jingle, which Jude and Augustin have never heard before.

Then, Jude ordered Ginger an eggroll. I saw the employee pick up a golden softball sized lump and place it in the bag. I said, “Ginger I think you are actually getting some sort of bread roll.” The bag was really heavy. Ginger asked, “What is this?” as she peered down into the bag. Jude said, “It’s an eggroll.” We immediately began laughing. She pulled it out and it was huge, I mean almost as big as her face. She bit into it, with some difficulty because it is so large, and said, “it’s potato.” I could not believe my eyes. I tried it, and it was a fried ball of potato. I said, “is there an egg in there?” Jude started looking annoyed that we found this so amusing, but he said, “Yes.” I asked if it had a shell, and he said it did not. Ginger then said, “I wanna get to the egg!” And we both started to eat it trying desperately to reach the egg. Ginger said it was like “how many licks to get to the center of a lollipop,” except it was us eating potato. Jude asked us if we were “just going to stand there and eat it,” because they think it is bizarre to eat standing up. I guess that’s an American thing. Sure enough, there was a boiled egg in the middle, which had us rolling with laughter even harder. So, eggrolls in Uganda are potatoes smashed around a boiled egg, and deep fried. I wonder what else we think is familiar is in actually something completely different. You never know until you try.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 10th through June 14th

Thursday June 10th
Today I received confirmation of my Teaching Assistant position at the University of Memphis! I will be teaching Introduction to Cultural Anthropology in the fall! I am so excited and Ginger has been giving me advice, because she taught last year. It’s hard for me to concentrate on everything here, because I am making plans for next semester already. This morning I was working on my CV resume because I want to apply for doctoral programs in the fall. Things are happening so fast!

After Ginger and I got ready, we met Mary, a supervisor, an hour earlier than planned at the Nakawa Taxi Park. I think Ginger is feeling pretty ill because she gave the wrong change to the conductor and seems a bit out of it, which is unlike her. We went to a school that integrates children with learning disabilities with the rest of the students in classes. They have a teacher who uses sign language in class, and the student to teacher ratio is 3:1. It’s impressive. I feel like this is a much more lucrative way for all students to learn. Instead of sectioning off students who have difficulty into different classes, they tweaked the curriculum for the mutual benefit of each kind of student. This way, children learn to interact and work together at a young age. It makes sense to me, but American public education is so different. I remember stigmatized “challenge” classes and short-buses. It’s like institutionalizing people instead of giving them a fair chance to survive in the real world. I really think they have a great school. They also have a pool where they provide physical therapy, and exercise for students. A few of them went to the Special Olympics for swimming. They asked us to stay for lunch, posho and beans, but Mary invited us to her house.

We walked a long way before we got to her house, and we were quite sweaty. She offered for us to rinse off in the bathroom. I was confused and I didn’t know if I was supposed to completely disrobe and shower. She brought a huge towel and laid it on the bed. There is no door to the bathroom and I was scared I was doing the wrong thing and she would walk in and ask me why I was naked. So I whispered loudly for Ginger and she said to just take a shower. So I did. I felt much better afterward, even though we put the same clothes back on.

Mary was fixing fresh juice when I came out. Her housemaid prepared posho, pumpkin, sweet potato, beef stew, g-nut sauce, greens (mixed with beets?), and matoke. It was a feast. Her son, Julius, came home to meet us and have lunch, and we sat on the floor on beautifully colorful straw mats. Mary sat with her legs fully outstretched in front of her, scooping out massive portions for our plates. I sat “Indian-style” and Julius told me I sit like a Muslim. We said that in America, people call it “Indian-style” and he said, “Yeah, Indians sit like that too.” Haha. Ginger tried to explain what we meant, but I'm not certain he understood.

We could not possibly eat it all. After we were served, her housemaid, Jova, sat on the floor with her legs bent and to the side (properly) beside us. Occasionally Mary would tell her to bring something else, and Jova would get up to bring out items like sliced tomato, onion and chili peppers. Mary squished the peppers with a spoon. She only mashed up four of them, and they are quite small. I used my finger to get a little bit to put on my posho, which is like a hardened lump of grits. She told me the peppers are hot, which is why she only broke open a few of them. Even though she warned me, I wasn’t expecting it to be as hot as it was. They were crazy-hot, and I accidentally got some of it on my face even though I wiped my fingers off with a napkin. Since I had to use my fingers to pick up, it was unavoidable. My face stung for an hour.

Afterwards, we enjoyed the fresh juice and looked at hundreds of photographs of their family. Julius thoroughly explained the details of each photo as we went through so many albums. It took a couple of hours. Afterwards, we took pictures with them, and they were curious about pictures of our families. Ginger only had one of her Mom on her camera to share. They walked us to the road, after giving us a papaya and peppers to take home with us. Along the way, Julius stopped to buy us each a “rolex” from a roadside vendor. They are basically omelets on top of a flat bread like pita bread. They roll them up, hence the name. The vendor mixed cabbage, tomato, and onion to make the omelet. I could see dirt on the eggs as he cracked them open. He was very skilled with his knife, and even used it to flip the omelet. We ate them when we got home, and they are so delicious. We weren’t even hungry!

Friday June 11th
Not much today. Grace made chicken tandoori, a traditional Indian dish. She also made “avocado ice cream” which was avocado blended with lemon juice and whipping cream. It was strange, but good. We wrote almost all day, then we watched the opening ceremonies of the World Cup on the tv. The networks made it possible for anyone to watch who has a tv and antennae in Uganda. It’s a huge deal because it’s the first time that the World Cup has been held on this continent. Africans love football (soccer). And, so many lesser-known countries participate in the World Cup. It’s neat to feel the energy and excitement. Even Grace was excited. The opening ceremony was very cool. Grace asked me in a roundabout way to turn on the first game, Mexico vs South Africa. She watched as she finished our laundry. After the first game, we went out with Jude and Sylas to watch Uruguay play France. It was really fun. There were next to no females out, and they kept saying that wives KNOW their husbands are going to be out late watching the games. I thought it was interesting that they do not go out together.

Saturday June 12th
Today we set out to find a pump for the 18.9L jug of water we purchased. We are afraid if we try to pour it we will just end up spilling it everywhere. We went to four stores before we finally found a pump. The one Rose has acts as a lever, and we were having a difficult time describing it. I’m sure people thought we were crazy when we described it using our hands to press up and down. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to find the simplest things. For example, two of the four stores sold the machines that serve the water hot and cold (like you see in offices) but not a pump. The employees would tell us they are too expensive and they discontinued them because no one purchased them, yet they have these high priced water systems. We were going to give up and just buy a funnel and hope for the best when we finally found one at the fourth store.

Afterwards we drove to Entebbe with Jude and Derrick to watch America play England. They said they wanted to show us the lake, too. We went to this bar/club where people do karaoke, dance, and watch sports. I say “karaoke” tentatively because it is not the same karaoke as practiced in the US. Instead, people go up on stage to lip-sync and perform dance routines they choreograph at home. People take it very seriously. At first I thought that’s what was going on, but Jude explained that sometimes after karaoke, the hired performers who are employed at the club will come on and dance. These guys were such good dancers, and I was so impressed. The choreography was like a mix between hip-hop and jazz. What an interesting job the dancers have. I am not sure if America has dance clubs quite like that, but perhaps I’ve just never been to them. Of course, I was more interested in watching them dance, than the game. After they were finished, many people got up and danced. There were some women there who were dressed very scantily and watched themselves dance (provocatively) in the mirrors. Jude explained that they were prostitutes. You can tell because they give you inviting looks, even to women. One woman had HUGE hair, and she was quite tall already but she wore really high heels with very short shorts and a tank top. She was really pretty and looked like a girl out of a rap video. I couldn’t look away, and she was dancing right in front of us. I hope my face didn’t show what I was thinking. Sometimes my facial expressions give me away. Ginger and Jude told me that there was a strip club up stairs, but we did not go up there.

After the game, we went to Lake Victoria. It was pretty late (around 11 pm), and I was nervous about crocodiles and hippos. Derrick told me I was being paranoid, and we don’t have anything to worry about since they cut all the grass and the snakes are gone. I thought, “Great, I hadn’t even thought of snakes!” Our visit to the lake turned out to not be very scary after all. Ginger has a tiny light on her keys that is used to shine light when you unlock a door. There was not much of a moon and the night was very dark. We pointed her small light out toward the open water, and Derrick said if the crocodiles were out there we would see their eyes reflecting off the light. The light did not extend very far, since it is so small anyway, which made me doubt its reliability as a crocodile detector.

I took pictures with my camera using the flash, imagining that I could see their eyes that way in the resulting photographs. Nothing, just blackness. In the end, I took my shoes off and put my feet in the edge of the water. The water was warm and the sand had a bunch of crushed up shells in it. I looked for a shell but there weren’t any. The waves splashed on my ankles and I decided that was good enough for me and stepped away from the water. It was just so dark out there, if there was a crocodile, you would never see it coming. Derrick pointed to an island he used to swim to when he was in college. I thought it was close, but he said it’s farther than it looks. We looked up and saw so many stars in the sky it was beautiful. Ginger tried to find a constellation, but we couldn’t. Then, we went home.

Sunday June 13th
Today we rested. Sunday has truly become the day that we don’t really leave the house. It’s nice. We wrote all day and at one point we were both working really hard when something odd happened. I thought I was going to faint and I felt disoriented like my balance was off even though I was sitting down on the couch. In the exact same instant, I looked around to see if the walls were shaking. I took my headphones off and Ginger and I looked at each other and simultaneously asked if the other had felt the same way. We both felt it, which was a relief because I thought something was wrong with me. We never figured out what it was. I guess some sort of tremor, like an earthquake? It was an unsettling feeling, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

We expected to have Roger and his friend over in the early afternoon (they said after lunch) to visit, but they never called. We met Roger last week in Kyengera, he is one of the coaches of the soccer team we watched with Richard. He was bringing the team captain of one of the soccer teams he coaches to visit us. We knew we had to speak to them, to give them directions to the house, so it wasn’t like they could “pop in.” We figured they might expect dinner so Ginger made guacamole and I helped chop vegetables to go over rice. We waited and waited, but they did not have their phone, and we couldn’t get in touch with them. Finally we decided we were hungry since it was around 7:30 and they still weren’t here. We decided just go ahead and eat, and we each helped cook. As soon as I took out the bowls to serve our dinner, they called.

It’s hard to explain how to get to our compound in the first place because cell phone service is quirky, and Roger has a thick accent so Ginger had a hard time trying to tell him where we live. We decided to meet them at a landmark nearby, a fancy country club, and just walk back with them. We somehow got there before them, and after we waited for a while in front of the Kabira Country Club they finally showed up and we walked back home together. We gave them some of the food when we got back. I added some cashews on top of the rice and veggies, because it’s so good that way. They thought it was so weird, and did not like it. Roger said the cashews taste like chocolate. He was squinting and making a face like it was unbearable to eat. I saw him swallow a bite with a cashew without even chewing! I don’t understand how he’s never eaten them before since they are sold in the grocery store. In the end, they wasted the whole bowl of rice and vegetables! I was annoyed, but Ginger ate their cashews off the top of their bowls. At least they weren’t wasted. We listened to some American music, and they wanted us to dance but we were too tired. They love R Kelly, Rhianna, LL Cool J, and other older bands. It’s funny, sometimes when we go out we will hear the oldest songs, and outdated artists but everyone loves them.

Monday June 14
Today we went to use an internet café because we already used our 1G of internet. We printed out some important documents and then we went to the SAS Clinic to talk to the accounting personnel again. We found out we have to pay an additional $300 US for our application to conduct research. It never ends!! When we were there we saw Andrew, and made some plans to work out our trip to Hoima this weekend. We want to do an observation of a school there, then travel on to Masindi afterward. We are going to go to Murchison Falls. I’m so excited! After that, we felt like we got a lot done in a short time, so we had lunch at this place called the Crocodile. We keep finding restaurants and stores with tons of white people. It’s odd because I never see them walking around or even in the matatus. I don’t understand where they come from! It also annoys me. Like the other day when we went to look for the water pump, we saw these 3 English people. They had on hats, hiking boots, sunglasses, bookbags, and water canteens. They looked like they were going on safari, and they were in the middle of the most urban area there is here. It’s a MALL. Tonight our friend David is stopping by, and we are going to watch a movie Ginger broug

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I fixed the comments setting. I had inadvertently turned it off! Oops!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 6th to June 9th

Sunday 6th
Today we respected the Sabbath. Other than updating our blogs, uploading more pictures and doing some reading, we basically rested. Ginger is sick and I am just tired. It’s amazing how much time goes by so quickly. I made pasta today, and Ginger fixed a really great vegetarian sauce to go with it. We bought some local mozzarella which is not a mild cheese, and is fact funky. It’s growing on me, but it is much stronger than the mozzarella in the states.

This evening Joan came over. She went camping on an island at Lake Victoria with some friends over the weekend. I really think that sounds like fun, and totally want to do it. I doubt we will have time unfortunately. Joan ate her first Oreo tonight, provided by Ginger, and we looked at photographs on Ginger’s computer from last summer. Joan is in many of the pictures, and she was surprised to see they’d taken so many of her. Then, Jude came over too and we all played Gin Rummy. We had so much fun, and they learned pretty quickly. Then, they showed us a traditional game here, which is really just like UNO. We had so much fun playing cards. It reminded me of college, learning and playing cards with Karen to all hours of the night. :)

Monday 7th
Today Ginger napped some before we went to the foundation. We planned to go to the clinic before our meeting with Reverend, but decided against it. When we left, we saw a friend, Asha, driving toward her home on her lunch break. She invited us to a cookout at her house this weekend. Yay!

After our meeting with Reverend, we went to the clinic. We tried three different doors before someone told us it was the second door, and you have to push, not pull, to enter. Once inside, we took care of some financial business, and we met Dr. Muhumza’s father. He was very nice, and offered to take us home since his driver was just outside. I thought he offered to take us to lunch, but I must have misunderstood because soon we were pulling into our compound. He came inside, and asked us about our trip and our project. He wanted to make sure we were comfortable in the compound, and asked us many questions. He told us about his 10 children, several of whom live in the US. Then, he asked us if he could say a prayer.

I am not the most religious person, but sometimes people ask me to join in prayer. I was raised Catholic, and many of the prayers people say are familiar to me. When I was growing up, you knew a prayer was over once everyone said “Amen.” Dr. Muhumza’s father is a very nice older gentleman who wanted to say a special prayer for us, so we bowed our heads. He said one of the kindest and sweetest prayers I’ve ever heard about making sure we are safe in our home, in the environment and society of Uganda, etc. and then we all said “Amen.” However, as soon as we’d finished, he kept going. I thought, “Wait – he said Amen. The prayer is over, right?” But apparently it was not over. I was trying not to smile because I felt like a little girl in church when I’m not supposed to laugh. Plus, the second prayer was even kinder than the first. Finally, he got to the end, and we once again we all three said “Amen.” In that second, I felt sure the prayer was finished, but I was wrong yet again. He went on to give a third, and final, prayer for us. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I guess I felt that it was such a serious moment and he was genuinely being kind, but that put the pressure on for me to do anything but laugh. I tried so hard to suppress my laughter, but I continued to feel the giggle wiggling its way up my throat. I could hardly contain myself, but I made it through without laughing out loud. He was so nice, and I would have felt really bad if I had started laughing. After that, he said goodbye, and we finished writing for the day.

Tuesday 8th
Today we went to our first school observation. It was a private school and we traveled with one of the supervisors. In Kampala, people call traveling “moving.” So we moved to this school, which has no electricity or running water. The bathroom is a pit latrine, and is covered with spider webs. After signing in with the headmaster, we went into a classroom. The class we observed is a Primary 6 class, which is basically sixth grade. The students were seated at desks that look like small picnic tables cut in half. The desks seat two or three students and they face the blackboard, but they were sort of pushed together forming U’s.

The school is a boarding school, as many of the schools here are, where children live throughout the school term. I am still learning about the school system but I think the school terms begin in February with a break after Easter, and a break in August. Then the school year ends in December, so there are a total of 3 terms. During breaks, children living in the boarding schools go home to their families. It seems like the students in government schools go home daily, since we see them walking home all the time. Both public and private school students wear uniforms.

The students stood up and greeted us in unison as we entered the classroom. We introduced ourselves, and the teacher asked them to welcome us. I introduced myself first and in response they said , “Welcome Maggie.” I guess I will start calling myself Maggie, since Ginger calls herself “Jinja” like the town here. After our introduction, two students gave up their desks for us and they carried it over for us to sit. I at first thought we would be a distraction, but the students faced the front and answered questions like we weren’t even there. I loved hearing them answer questions, and I was impressed with their answers. They stand up to answer questions, which is really a great way to learn public speaking at such young ages. I know college students who would be intimidated by that! The school observation was very interesting and I learned so much about how different school is here in Uganda.

Tonight I had cassava for the first time. Grace also cooked sweet potatoes and beans. The sweet potatoes here have green veins and they are white instead of orange and they have a much chalkier texture. They are still really good, just different. After lunch/dinner Ginger went to bed early since she is still feeling poorly. A short while later I heard her yelling for me. There was a cockroach on her mosquito net. Earlier in the day we talked about how the poison must be working, but apparently we were wrong. It was flying around in her room. Have I mentioned how gargantuan these roaches are? To reiterate: she’s pleading for me to come in and spray it through her shut door, and I am on the otherside of the door trying to develop enough courage for the task. I took three deep breaths and went in spraying and screaming. He ran around to the other side of the bed and I chased him, and he started to limp around. I thought the worst was over, but we never found him. Ginger thinks he must be in her suitcase. Great!


Today is another public holiday, Heroes Day, and Ginger is feeling a lot better. I feel bad for her, but I didn’t realize how bad she actually was feeling until she told me she was beginning to think she had malaria. Thankfully, she is feeling better, and I guess I should be glad to know that if she says she feels really bad, it means it’s really bad. She isn’t whiny at all, like I am when I am sick. Since everything is closed today, we can’t go to schools or the foundation. So, we rested some, then traveled to the coffee shop. Joan was working, and she showed us some pictures of her family. One of them was a funeral for her children's grandparents. No one wore black in the photographs. We asked her many questions about funerals and preparations that take place after people die. Somehow we got on the topic of suicides.

She told us how people who hang themselves are buried differently. She described suicidal hangings as "bad omens" and people who do that are not to be touched by anyone. Therefore, they dig a large hole underneath the body as it hangs, wherever it is, and cut the rope. The body falls haphazardly into the hole, but no one is allowed to fix the position of the body. Whichever way the body lands after the fall is how they are buried. She asked us about American burials. I told her about our caskets, cremations, mausoleums, and bodies donated to science. Ginger brought up people being buried in above ground tombs in New Orleans. I think it's interesting to talk about, although it is a rather morbid conversation to have.

After we decided to leave, we walked past the market. I bought some handmade earrings and a bag stitched together with different colorful fabrics that I will use to carry papers in when we go for observations at schools. Ginger got a really cool imitation Juicy Couture (sp?) purse that is red. Afterwards, we went home and caught up on all of our writing. We are going to bed early because we have two more school observations this week and the World Cup starts on Friday. It is in South Africa this year so everyone here is really excited!