Well, that about sums up my day today… What an adventure! After sleeping in our new place (the residency hotel that active Peace Corps volunteers and European yuppies frequent) for about 11 hours, I woke up feeling hot and ready for a nice swim. Too bad this place forgot to put in a pool… details, I guess:) Well, the cold shower did the trick, and I was downstairs ready for some fresh watermelon and pineapple in no time- caked with SPF 50 and Deet on my feet.
Lucy and I had a list of “to do” items to get done today. Our plan was to mail some letters (i.e. find the Ugandan post office), register in person with the US embassy (that, by the way, is located about 3.5 miles out of the center of town and ensure only the strong survive), and get some basic house goods (a clothes line, a water boiler, Ugandan tea, cutlery, etc). Lucy makes fun of me because I bought a kilo of black beans- but I fully intend to find some recipes that are simple and protein-licious. (Any ideas anyone out there? I only have hot water to cook them with…)
The food in Uganda is not too bad; maybe it’s because we are living in the Indian district and are becoming regulars at the Hare Krishna shack. Lots of dairy products here- no soy or tofu found yet. The traditional Ugandan food, I have observed, involves a lot of starches- potatoes, rice, white bread… what I would not do for a voll getreide loaf of German bread… oh, gimme’ some grains! Luckily, I found some bran crackers ($8 for like a pack of 12!) at a local supermarket, and I packed almonds and walnuts to last me until the next stint of Dubai on the journey home. No, the food is not bad, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, we have the fresh juice place down the way from us. I’m buying water by the liters, as I we have to brush with bottled water to avoid germs in the belly, manifesting their way into intimate time with the porcelain throne… but I am going through about a liter and a half of water a day (plus juices, and Nile Specials- plenty of liquids parents!)
So as Lucy and I were venturing out to register with the Embassy today, and get some US soil time, we had quite the adventure… After our usual central stop at the Grand Imperial Hotel (where the toilet paper is stocked and the staff are friendly) we made our way down to the Old Taxi Park by way of side streets, flooded with imposter goods markets, and seas of boda bodas. This was our first real experience with inner city Kampalan life. I cannot begin to explain how insane this process was, and I still do not understand how we made it out of there alive- bodas weaving in and out of mid-day traffic, people EVERYWHERE you look, and dirtiness that only a polluted and unregulated city can offer. Not to mention, the beating down of the hot afternoon sun making the dirt set in your sweaty skin, and making you pray your skin will understand and forgive you later…After getting lost, as an respectable tourist does, we made it down to Old Taxi Park and asked for Kasanga (not Kasangati, as we almost found out the hard way), and were headed to US Embassy. Ten minutes later we arrived at a highly guarded building that looked rather unfriendly, but was waiving a US flag behind barbed wire- this was it- our country in all its glory… God bless the US of A. So, dad, if you are reading this, they would not let us check-in in person. They said that so long as we had registered online, we were fine… but if we want, we can make an appointment for Friday to figure out return of remains. (Just kidding!)
After that little episode, we made our way back to the city center. This was the prime time for afternoon traffic, so we had to be extra careful around the city. As we were walking back up to the center (Kampala has a series of small hilly places), I tripped (as I have been doing a lot lately) and caught myself, but overheard a local say something in Luganda- the local language. But I began cracking up, because all I could make out was “Mzungu” (or white person) and “Macarena” (that horrendous dance that plagued the junior high dance floors that everyone went along with because their neighbor was doin’ it…) Really?! “Mzungu Macarena” is my legacy thus far in this land?! Oh man… well, why walk, when you can clearly dance… :)
So, that was our day. Tomorrow we are heading back to Acholi quarters to work with Otto, the on site manager, to work out a time table of working with the women. We are surely going to work around their busy schedules, and not impede upon their output. Lucy and I have been talking a lot (since January, really) about our research details, and what precisely we will be doing in the field. For those of you who do not know, we are doing an internship with Acholi Beads through our graduate institution, the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Since we both completed the Development Project Management Institute, DPMI, (a three week long intensive certificate program) earlier in our time at MIIS, we are eligible to apply to participate in the practicum assignment that follows. Essentially, we are applying all the project management, facilitation, and networking strategies skills attained to a real-life setting- in Uganda. So, our time this summer will be working with the women of Acholi Beads and conducting the following three primary tasks (among others): a needs assessment, an impact evaluation, and a feasibility study for a scaling-up venture of Acholi Beads in the future. In essence, we will be evaluating the extent to which Acholi Beads has had a positive change in the human condition for the members, what needs they have, and how this model (a for-profit socially proactive business) can be replicated to have exponential impact on other impoverished groups. Our final deliverable will serve both the Institute, and our client, the founder of Acholi Beads, James Pearson. We will also be working on the US-side of the business down in San Diego, CA upon our return from Uganda in August.
Whew… so who’s with me?! These blog entries may get a little more academic-y from here on out; just a warning. But knowing me, I will have plenty of feel-good stuff to throw in as well.
Well, it is about 10:30 here, and time for bed under my mosquito net:) Goodnight all, and write me emails/ comments/ questions- it’d be great to hear from you (yes YOU!).
Cheerio for now,