Zebras and warthogs and hippos, oh my!

Hey there friends! Life in the big U is going pretty great these days. The kids are on break from school so everything is moving at a slower pace which has been a welcome break. I am still working almost every day but have been taking some time off to relax. I’m still trying to get used to the culture and language thing. There are so many ways in which culturally we are different. Differences that shake me to the core, but I try to hang onto the similarities you can always find in human nature. Last week two of my friends and I took some time to be “tourists” and went to a National Park, Lake Mburo. Took a hike through the park, with an armed guard (don’t worry mom), and saw sooo many animals. Zebras, hippos, warthogs, empalas, monkeys just to name a few. I really felt like I was living in the Lion King. I kept laughing out loud to my self realizing that I am actually living in Africa. School starts up again later this month so it will be back to the grind stone before long. Hope you all are well. Congrats to the 2007 IWU grads! Also, congrats to all the other grads out there too!

Ps. Warthogs are hilarious!

Me, Jess and Pumba, the warthog

Theory of Relativity

This blog post isn’t so much an update on my life as it is just some observations.

In traveling around Uganda and observing this country, I have noticed that there is something unsettling about the place. This uneasy feeling was overpowered by my love and admiration for this land. Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful country I have been to in my life. The greens of the plants are intermingled with trees and flowers of every color. Uganda is blessed with two rainy seasons that keep the ground fertile for many crops. almost anything you put in the ground can grow in plenty. For the most part, I was able to put that unsettled feeling in the back of my mind, until today. A jaja, old woman, from my village was taking me through the matoke fields to show me the bricks that had been made to complete her house. We traipsed around together, me following her steps through the fields on the crooked paths.

We passed by many homes and people who were out digging in their gardens to gather food for the evenings meal. Our trip was greatly lengthened by the numerous times we had to stop and greet those we passed. It is considered to be very rude to walk by someone with out the exchange of ritual greetings. You stop and greet in this way:
A: Wasuze otya ssebo? (How have you spent the night sir?)
B: Bulungi nnyabo! (Great madam)
A: Mmmm (yes, you actually mmm, it is an important part of the conversation)
B: Mmmm
B: Wasuze otya nnyabo? (How have you spent the night mam?)
A: Bulungi ssebo (Great sir)
B: Mmmm
A: Mmmm
A: Abeka bali batya? (The people at home, how are they?)
B: Abeka bali bulungi. (The people at home, they are good)
B: Mpozi gwe? (perhaps you)
A: Bali bulungi. (the people are good)
A: Kati, ngenze beera bulungi! (now I am going, live well)
B: Nawe, siba bulungi tunalabagana! ( you too, spend the day well, we shall see each other again)
A: Mmmm
B: Mmmm
Then you can carry on your way. This above is the shortest version of the greeting, but could go even longer. At first coming here, I would dread the repetitiveness of this ritual, but now I somehow enjoy it knowing that the people here just love to know how you are.

In the middle of my walk with my Ugandan friend, we went around plantations, through plantations, stepped over streams and around graves. It was here that I finally realized what has been making me so uneasy about Uganda. You can’t find a straight line anywhere. To my western mind, I am used to seeing corn fields planted in tidy straight rows. Trees growing at ninety degree angels. Bales of hay spaced evenly around the field. Houses in neat tidy rows. Uganda is a chaotic mix of everything. Nothing is planted in rows; matoke grows next to coffee which is under the mango tree beside the kasava plants. Roads wind around the hills instead of plowing through them. Homes and villages are located close to water sources. Is this chaos or harmony? I think it is relative. Now that I can put a finger on what it is, I think it is just one more thing that I love about Uganda. Some may choose to call the randomness chaos, but its all a matter of relativity. I see it as the people of Uganda chose to live in harmony with the way nature has constructed itself. Not the other way around.