Monday, June 29, 2009

Yay for deviled eggs

June 29

So the deviled eggs went over really well. There weren't any left so I suppose that people liked them. The BBQ was much more fun that I expected. Everyone was very social and very nice. We had an eccclectic group of people. Americans, French, British, Dutch, Ethiopian, and then Ugandans of course. Everyone has a completely different story. I loved the food that the Ethiopians brought. It's probably my new favorite ethnic food. Our two friends came, Andrew and Joan. Andrew also brought some of his family members. They weren't shy about helping themselves to all of the food. So we are slowly accumulating more and more friends. The BBQ lasted very late, and then we went out after that, so both Dustin and I were wiped out through most of Sunday.

Today I have already gone to set up my massage for tomorrow. I still don't know what else I want to do. I really want to get sushi in the evening, but I'm a little nervous about eating raw fish while I'm here. I might have to stick with the tempura. I really just want some hot saki. Very exciting. I'll be sure to let ya'll know how it goes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 25

Dustin and I have started moving forward again on our project. We decided that we would try to make contact with some of the other NGO's in the area, especially those that work with children effected by HIV. It will be benedficial to get another perspective on the epidemic in the area. There are some really neat ones out there that we have found so far. My favorite is something like a summer camp put on by the queen Buganda to teach teenagers how to take care of themselves. =) I know some people that could use something like that.

We also went and talked with Joan about our project. She seemed very interested in what we were doing and was glad to tell us about her experiences. I understand now why it is almost impossible to stay impartial. She told us that she was having trouble affording to send her children to school, and was wondering if there is anyone that would like to sponsor them. She is so kind to us and is such a good person, I think that Dustin and I are going to try to find a way to help send her children to school. She invited us to go to meet them, which is also really exciting. She has two and one of them is having a birthday in July. She said that it is a treat for her children to meet white people because we are so different. I said that it would be exciting for us too because it is hard for us to get out of the city.

June 6/26/09

Doing anything is a chore here. All we have done today is go into town, have lunch, change money, try to get pictures on a CD, and stop by one store, and it has taken almost the whole day. We have started to get in touch with other NGO's so keep your fingers crossed that we are successful. We also decided that we would start trying to develop the funding for next summer. We found a grant through the embassy that we are excited about, but if anyone else knows of other options, perhaps you could let us know? It's times like these that I understand the value of marrying well.

June 6/27/09

Last night we went to hear some live music and it was so fun! Joan decided that she was going to join us. The band was a congolese band, and they were fabulous dancers. The men in particular were very good and fun to watch. I think it is something that we will keep doing.

We have a BBQ to attend today at the compound. I told them i was going to make deviled eggs and they gave me a funny look. I hope they go over well, but I think overall it is going to be a good time. They told us we could invite all our friends, but we only have two, Joan and Andrew, so we've invited both of them. It should be an ecclectic group. We live next to some Brits, and some of them are French, One husband is a Swede who has been living in Italy with his wife, but I'm not sure what nationality she is, and there are others. It should be interesting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Reassessment time

June 23

We've had to totally reassess our project because I don't think that we will get approval in time to do direct research. So we've come up with a few things and decided that we would still try to do as much work as we can while we're here. I was upset about it at first, and I was particularly worried about how Dustin was going to react, but I think we're both over it.

June 24
We've made a new friend today! Her name is Joan and she let us interview her, but once we ran out of questions we ended up talking for a long time after. She was actually our tour guide. You might remember her from that. She has two kids, and she said that she was going to take us to see them because they live with their grandmother outside of the city. Anyway, we had a lot of fun hanging out with her, and I think she had fun too.

My birthday is coming up soon but I'm not sure what to plan for myself. I think I might go to the spa or something.

On another note the mouse in our house is still at large. Dustin said he saw it sitting in our living room chair. The gaul right? We also think he's been eating out of the trap but not getting stuck. I think we need to come up with a new plan.

Just so everyone knows, I do get all of the comments. It's really fun for me to sit down and read them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not much to report

There hasn't been much going on since Friday. Just trying to catch up on writing. I have a whole in my mosiquito netting and I put my foot through it in the middle of the night. I was half awake and very confused as to why I couldn't get my foot back.

There is a mouse living somewhere in our kitchen. They didn't have mouse traps at the store, so we had to buy this glue stuff. You put it on a piece of board and then bait it with peanut butter. I can already tell this is going to be a disaster.

We're having some trouble with our research proposal. It's starting to get frustrating because the committee won't hear it soon enough for us to get anything done. I think we are going to have to reassess our long term plan, but I'm not sure how we are going to adjust so that the summer is still productive. We still have some work to occupy us in the mean time. I'll let ya'll know what happens next.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monkey Sighting

Happy Father's day to everyone!

June 19
Today was coffee safari day! What a great day we've had. It didn't start out that way. They wanted us to be at the coffee house at 7:00. So we woke up with the man who calls the Islamic prayers at 5:30 in the morning over the loud speaker. At 6:15 we were out the door, and the sun was just coming up. The taxi ride into town was very fast, and so we arrived before the shop was even open.

We started with a breakfast of fresh fruit, museli, yogurt, fresh juice, toast, honey, and coffee. It ended up being just me and Dustin for the tour, and we had a tour guide and a driver. We were very glad to have a driver and ride around in a personal car instead of being crammed into a taxi.

The first place we went to was the Uganda Coffee Authority. Here they taste all of the coffee that gets exported out of the country to ensure the quality and to regulate the price of the coffee. What was so cool is that we were always right in the middle of the work space. It quickly became clear that the tour is more of an impromtu type deal rather than an organized regular thing. Our tour guide, Joan, just always called ahead to let whomever know that we were coming.

Anyway back to the coffee tasting...They were constantly roasting, griding, and tasting coffee. They would taste it with spoons and spit it out to check for defects. They let us taste the coffee right along with them. I felt silly sucking the coffee into my mouth from the spoon and then spitting it out. It was sort of like a wine tasting. All the while Joan was giving us tons of information about the different beans that are grown in Uganda, and what the different varieties look and taste like.

The next place we went was the coffee processing plant. The first thing I noticed was how the potholes were filled with old coffee beans. They had acres of coffee laid out in the sun to dry. They also had a pavilion where women were sorting the coffe and picking our the stuff that wasn't coffee. The chief engineer gave us a tour, and showed us the entire line of production. It wasn't that interesting, just loud and dusty. Mostly just elevators and things shaking. They let us climb on top of the machines and watch the coffee running through. I've never been allowed to stick my hands in the machinery on a tour before. It probably wasn't very safe, but totally worth it.

We learned about the different chemical concentrations in different coffees. The smaller beans actually have a higher concentration of caffeine, but the bigger ones are better quality. There is also natural coffee and washed coffee. natural coffee is dried with the hull still on. Washed coffee is husked, washed, and then dried. The husks are red and coffee is a seed. I never knew any of these things.

The next place was the roaster. The roaster asked us all kinds of questions and I was able to answer them. He was impressed, but it was because Joan was giving us so much information. We stood there and talked while he was doing his roasting. He told us that it releases the carbon in the bean, and the size of the bean almost doubles. He also said that it is best for the coffee to be consumed at least two days after roasting.

Then we went out of the city to the national agricultural research center. There a plant pathologist gave us a tour of the facility. They test the different strains of coffee to test their resistance to different diseases and to help maintain the quality of taste. They had several "experiements" running at the time, but it was really just fields with different plains, and they just waited to see which ones would die from disease. There were mother crops, which were the original strains of plants that could be cut and given to farmers to grow. They were also doing experiments on other crops like coco and palm oil, but we mainly stuck to coffee. I learned that there are several different types of diseases that attack coffee plants, most of them are fungi. It was cool to get a biology lesson, and to actually use the information.

The whole time I was thinking of this one time when my mom was trying to help me learn different scientists. I was having rouble with Gregor Mendel. And mom goes "all he did was cross pea plants, when will you ever have to know this again?" And here it was in action.

The research center was out of the city. I was glad to see some of the country side, and it didn't take us much to get out, but I loved seeing the country. People were making bricks by hand and baking them in large brick ovens. Domestic animals were grazing every where. Children walking home from school. Little babies running around naked. True huts.

We went from the research center to a farm where they grown coffee. This is where we were served lunch. All of the food we ate was grown right there on the farm, and it was all delicious. Potatoes, Matoke and peanut sauce, beef, fish, pumpkin, cassava, sweet potatoes, greens, fresh pineapple juice, local coffee, fruits, and sugar cane. This was the first time that Dustin had ever tried sugar cane, and I was excited for him to try it. He showed us all of his different gardens, and how they graft different plants onto lemon roots so that they produce fruit faster. He showed us a zuchinni he had planted as an experiment, and it had an enormous zuchinni on it. It was funny because he was so knowledgable about so many of the plants, but he asked us if we know when it is supposed to be picked. I told him that it was past due, and showed him the length it should be. I giggled to myself that I would know such information because I'm so bad at growing anything. He said he expected it to change colors. He had so many different crops. He even had vanilla vines, and rice. He also had livestock, and the pigs had just given birth to piglets. He also had guinea hens as an experiment.

The best part was that we walked down to the coffee fields, and he let us plant our own coffee plants. I put a sign next to mine. He said that we could email him and he would let us know how our plant was doing. I drew a sunshine on my sign. The other cool thing was that I saw a monkey in the tree. It was a red tailed monkey. I feel like I have completed one of my major objectives.

I was exhausted by the time we got home, and I went to bed almost immediately.

June 18

Today has been spent writing. Nothing exciting.

June 17

Just work today. We met some new people that work for the program. They were very eager to talk to us and seemed very skilled at what they are doing. It's a little difficult to be working with people that are so much older than I am. The one funny thing, one of the people we were talking to had never seen freckles before. He asked me if there was something wrong with me. It was difficult for me to explain that this was just the way I was, and that as I got older I got more of them. He asked if they itch. He probably thought it was a rash. They also wondered if eventually I would be totally black. =)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's been a while since I was able to post last, so sorry about that.

June 15
Today we spent a lot of time walking through the neighborhoods. I always try to give the kids a high five, but they don't know what I mean. They just stare at me funny when I hold my hand up. Today when we passed some small children I got a hand shake instead. But they all yell "bye muzungu" even if they really mean hello.

We also went out to eat for the first time today. We went to the same place where they had karaoke, but we went a little earlier this time. We ordered pork skewers and they bring out these long skewers with pieces of pork on them. They brought us some side items, like tomatoes and avocado. The best part is that you eat everything with your hands. They walk around with pitchers and basins and wash your hands for you. But I still used hand sanitizer even after the hand washing.

This time we met to older men. I think they were curious as to what we were doing and decided to come and talk to us. It is interesting once we start telling people what we are hear to do, they always have an lengthy opinion about it which is good for us as we are trying to collect information. I think we lucked out by coming into a society that likes to socialize and discuss.

I noticed that my ear is getting better for hearing African English. I'm still not very good at speaking in African English. People are funny because they claim that I have an accent, but they don't mean a southern one, they mean an American one.

June 16

Today we walked all the way to the foundation to see how long it would take us. It was only and hour and a half. Today was mostly a working day at the foundation. Going through files and taking notes. It's good work though.

For lunch we went to an Italian place down the road. We have since discovered where all the white people are hanging out. I thought it was pretty funny. I ordered Ravioli and Dustin got a Hawaiian pizza. It was all excellent, and authentic. I think the man who owned it was actually Italian. I broke the parmasian dish and spilled parmesian cheese every where. I was just trying to put some on my ravioli. And then I tried to cover it up with my plate, but it just smooched it into the table cloth. =) Dustin seemed to think it was pretty funny. While we were at lunch it actually rained with thunder. This was the most it has rained since we've been here. I don't think it would be very nice during the rainy season. I like when it rains because it settles all the dust.

We walked back that evening and picked up a watermelon along the way. Dustin almost dropped it when he slipped on the dirt road that leads down into the compound and almost fell into a car. I'm pretty sure it was karma coming back around to him for making fun of me when I slip.

June 17

Today was another day at the foundation. Not really interesting except for that we met some of the mentors and supervisors. Two exciting things happened. One, we got a little modem for our laptop and so now we have internet at our house! It's pretty exciting that we won't have to walk down to the internet cafe anymore. It's still slow, but now I can write and wait for pages to load at the same time! Two, Dustin and I sign up for a coffee safari. It sounds pretty touristy, but I'm excited to finally get to do something touristy. We go to the coffee shop early in the morning. They feed us breakfast and then take us out to a coffee plantation for the day. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, that's more of Dustin's thing, but I'm super excited to just get out of the city for the day.

Another short history lesson. During the dictatorship of Amin in the late seveties and early eighties, the economy in Uganda was collapsing. To make money people on the eastern boarder of Uganda would pack up their coffee beans and drive them into Kenya on bikes, and make tons of money. They would then buy lots of goods and transport them back into Uganda. All of this was highly illegal, but the money was so good, many people dropped what they were doing and picked up the trade. So if you had Kenyan coffee during that time, it is likely that some of it was actually Ugandan.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A comfortable weekend

Dustin is trying to put on some video, but you might have to view it from his blog. It's only traffic, so it's not that interesting, but we will try to get something better soon.

June 14

Today has been a really relaxing day. I have spent the whole day catching up on writing and reading. We tried to make French toast today, but I hate the frying pan we have. It doesn’t have a handle on it, so you have to hold it with a dish cloth. The stove is a gas stove, and I’m afraid that the dish towel is going to catch on fire. It all tasted fine. I have enjoyed listening to the church crowd today. They were going late.

Somehow the children in our compound hangout under my window. It’s like their hangout spot where they just sit and talk. I can overhear their entire conversation, and they talk. Today they were climbing on it. I went to knock on it, and it scared them away. It wasn’t really my intension to scare them, but they couldn’t see me through the window. And they run around in our yard.

I noticed in the paper that they are banning plastic bags. It’s funny that they are very environmentally conscious, you can’t smoke in restaurants or anything. It’s such an unusual system because they have spent the last 20 yrs. developing from the ground up. And so they have skipped a lot of the stages that other western countries have gone through. They don’t have the infrastructure to really pick up the garbage, so they just skip ahead to eliminating a lot of it. In the same way they don’t have land lines for phones, so everyone has a cell. The electricity is unreliable, so there is a big push for solar energy. I think it’s just interesting.

June 13

Today is the first day that Dustin and I were brave enough to go out at night. We went to a bar that was just down the road from where we lived. They were having a karaoke night, which was interesting. They were all singing in Lugandan so we couldn’t understand what they were saying. Afterwards, we stopped and picked up a pizza with pepperoni with olives. It wasn’t half bad.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


You should be able to see the pictures on the right. Let me know if you can see them.

One last thing

I have changed the blog, so that you don't have to have a username to make posts, but put your name in the comment so I know who you are! =) cheers. We are having an unusually good connection, so I'm taking the time to change things around a bit.



I have to say, thanks everyone for the posts. I enjoy them so much. We should have some pictures up now. If you click on Dustin's blog (there's a link below) there should be a stream of pictures. They are just ones that we have taken around the city.

June 10
Today we started at the Foundation. We managed to take taxis all the way there without getting lost. Everyone was impressed with us. At the foundation we met with Rev Obed to ask him some questions about the evaluation and to tell him about what we were doing. We have already run into a bit of a problem. It is difficult for anyone to judge success in this program, so we are kind going to have to figure it out along the way. In the end I suppose that will be a major contribution we will make. Defining success.
Interestingly, for all the family members, we met a doctor and her daughter from Baton Rouge. I can’t remember their names at the moment, but the daughter goes to school with Caroline. Dr. Muhumuza had invited the mom/physician to visit SAS for three weeks, and she brought her daughter with her. We happened to be at the clinic at the same time. It was very enjoyable to sit and talk with them at the Foundation.
The foundation gave us lunch, and I had that archetypal experience that you see in the movies. I had them serve my plate, and the two meat options were goat and fish. I went with the goat because I had not tried it yet. The meat part was very good, but then I ate something that I thought was a vegetable because it was bumpy. Then when I put it in my mouth it wasn’t a vegetable at all, it was an organ of some sort (I’m pretty sure it was the stomach). I had to get it down to be polite, but it was tough going. Everything else was great, but now I know I guess.
We’ve had a little difficulty with eating meat in general, so we have been eating vegetarian a lot. We certainly aren’t any worse for the wear. I think we me have some pictures coming soon. We managed to get the pictures transferred from Dustin’s camera onto a CD, so the next task is going to be uploading them to the internet.

June 11
Today I haven’t felt very good. I woke up with a head ache that was right behind my eye. I have spent most of the day sleeping and trying to get a draft of our proposal ready for Dr. Bagenda when he came by. He only stopped briefly and helped us with a couple of different things. Andrew also came by so that we could catch him up on what was going on. I think he is going to help us take some notes.

June 12
Dustin and I have traded off. Yesterday I didn’t feel good, now he doesn’t feel good. His is a stomach problem. He bought some local peanut butter and we think that might be what it was. The jar wasn’t sealed very well, and I didn’t have any of it.

So I quickly made some last minute changes on the proposal. I was frustrated and stress that we didn’t have it done sooner, but Dr. Bagenda picked me up and took me to the research center and the hospital where the IRB committee was housed. He gave me a tour of the entire complex. I meet several deans and the chair of the IRB committee. He had recently been to Memphis and thought it was wonderful, so I guess that’s good for us. In the family center Dr. Bagenda conducts his research, and they study the transmission of HIV between mother and child. In the center there is children running around everwhere, up and down the office halls. They also have a small store where the women who are participants make crafts. The money they earn, they get to keep. So the hospital is very good about supporting all of the needs of their participants. I think Dustin and I will end up buying a lot of things from that store. After six hours around the hospital we finally got the IRB turned in. It was difficult to have copies made, and to meet up with the right people (as always). He also said that monkeys hang around the area a lot, but I didn’t spot them this time.

Grace came today, which I was glad for. I made me feel better about leaving Dustin at home. She made some soup for us. She keeps complaining that we don’t eat enough. She accuses us of starving ourselves, which is clearly not the case. But she just mothers us so much, and she worries all the time. Especially when we are not feeling well, she immediately wants to take us to the clinic. It’s hard to talk her out of it, you can’t directly oppose her.

By the time I got back, Dustin was feeling fine. I think he was just tired from not having eaten and expelling all the bad stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The beginning of a new week

June 8
Hey everyone, I hope you are enjoying the blog so far.

Today has been an interesting day, and we have managed to do a lot of things on our own. We made it into town as I said before, we went to the book store, then the internet café, then the phone store, then for lunch, we met with Andrew Briefly, then the coffee shop, then home again. I’m pretty sure it’s the most we’ve accomplished in any one day.

We are trying to get a better internet situation, but one has not come about just yet. It would be expensive for us to by something for the computer, so we are looking into the library.

Dustin bought a coffee press and some fresh coffee and it is delicious! I’ll probably be bringing back a bunch.

June 9
Today we have spent the day at home. We have been working on the proposal all day trying to get it prepared and submitted by the end of the week. Papers, books, and notes are spread out all over the tables. The weather has been wonderful today. Sunny and I nice breeze, no threatening clouds.

I have already finished the book I bought. It was about the abduction of children by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the northern part of the country. Of course it was so sad and heartbreaking to hear the stories of the children that had been abducted, and the brutality they endured. It is the sort of thing that is hard for me to understand, especially after interacting with the children the bit that we have so far. They are so eager and happy.

For those that are maybe not aware of what I’m talking about: when the current president took power in 1986 there were a group of rebels, who eventually came to be know as the Lord’s Resistance Army that would go back and forth between Uganda and Sudan. They would attack villages and steal the children. Then the children would be forced to become part of the army and conduct ruthless acts of violence. Then these children would abduct other children and the cycle would begin again. The leader of the army was a man by the last name of Kony. He essentially thinks he is a prophet guided by the holy spirit. Thousands of children have been abducted over the course of the 20 yr period. Kony is still alive, but I think the resistance has lost almost all of its momentum.

Now the problem is rehabilitating all of the children that have been released. They have all been severely traumatized, the children as well as the adults, and the rates of post traumatic stress disorder are staggering. They need counseling in some form or fashion whether it is in a traditional way or in a clinical way.

If you want to learn more about it, look up the organization Invisible Children. I think the LRA also has a website, but be careful it’s full of propaganda. I haven’t looked at either myself, but I’m sure both would be informative.

Sometimes when I think of all the things that need to be done around the world, people, and especially children that need help, it becomes very overwhelming. I want to be able to help all of them. I know that I can’t help all of them, but I do feel partially responsible because I’m so able. In my mind withholding and being complacent is almost as bad as refusing. I suppose that I’m on my way to helping a lot of children at once, but it’s hard to allay this sense of urgency I get.

Anyway after feeling so heavy I took a nap and I feel much better. When I start to feel a little sad or homesick, that usually means that I haven’t slept enough. I’ve been pretty good about homesickness, but it would be nice if people could post some of the normal things that are going on at home.

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 6
I was up with the sun this morning, and a little disappointed that I didn’t sleep a little longer. Nothing gets going around here till ten o’clock anyway, so there isn’t very much use in waking up too early. However, I do like to quiet. This is the first morning I’ve woken up and it’s been quiet. No loudspeakers, no crying children, no nothing.
Andrew Muhumuza was supposed to come over today, but he has a cold, so I think he will come by tomorrow instead. It is very nice around here that if you are sick, you can just take the day off. It isn’t like in America where you have to be really sick before you can even think about taking the day off. People really value their health here, I imagine because it isn’t as easily attainable as it is at home.
This morning we also had two black and white horn bills in our yard. A male and a female, I got a great picture of them, but we are having some technical difficulties with uploading pictures. Dustin brought two cameras and one video camera, and something is wrong with all three. With one camera, the computer isn’t recognizing it because he doesn’t have the software. On the other two, he doesn’t have the right cords, so we are trying to figure out how to get the pictures on the internet. All that to say that I got some really great pictures of the birds. I had to walk into our neighbors yard to get them, and now I’m not sure that we will be able to share with everyone.
The reason I know that they black and white horn bills is because we went to the Uganda museum today. We were able to walk there comfortably. We aren’t brave enough to take a taxi by ourselves yet. The difficulty is that we don’t know the names of everything or how much it costs. There is a set price for the distance you are going, people just have them all memorized. I supposed we will probably get cheated once or twice while we are figuring it all out.
It’s funny that people think they are cheating us, but they only try to get 1 or 2 hundred extra shillings out of us. The exchange rate is somewhere between 2100 and 2200 shillings to 1 US dollar. So 100 shillings is somewhere around 5 cents. People think they are being clever, but in the long run 200 shillings doesn’t even really matter to us anyway, and if they really need it then they can have it.
Back to the museum, it was wonderful. They had exhibit after exhibit on the different traditional cultures. For all of the anthropologists out there reading this, they had all of the similar items matched together, like all of the headdresses together, all of the masks together, all of the bows together, ect. Instead of having them grouped by tribe. It does make it very difficult to distinguish the character of one particular tribe when they’re items are spread all around. I can see Boas’s point.
However, it was very exciting to see everything anyway. There were some very interesting items, like a trap for hippos and elephants. They would dig a hole, and get them by one foot. Then they would let a heavy stone with spines come falling out of a tree above, and smash the hippo. There were remains of a very important person who was a warrior legend. When the traditional religion was still prominent, they thought the soul resided in the jaw bone, so they had his jaw bone in a beautifully decorated case. They often use a specific type of shell to decorate things. They also had his penis and testicles in a case, which made me blush a little. It certainly pushes the boundaries of my open mindedness. But also a cheetah skin, and all of his war gear.
After going through the museum, we stopped in the adjoined restaurant for some lunch. It clearly catered to foreigners of all types. There was American food, Indian, European, and Chinese. I got vegetable bajiya, which I think is Indian. It was like hush puppies with vegetables on the inside. Dustin got a cheeseburger and potato salad. We also got one of the local beers, Nile. A beer costs about 3,000 shillings ($1.50) but the alcohol content is much higher, 4.5% I think. And they come in bigger containers. So drinking one is almost like drinking 3 at home. I always feel pretty fine after drinking one of those, but I have to be careful because I’m not drinking nearly the same volume. The food was good. All of the meat here tastes a little different, so far we’ve had both chicken and beef. I can’t do the chicken, but the beef is tolerable. I imagine the difference is in what the livestock consume.
It was interesting the people that sat beside us were also researchers working on an evaluation. They were evaluating a midwifery program. A wedding party also came into the restaurant. I think it was a reception. But everyone was dressed just like in a wedding in America. The bridge had on a white gown, there were flower girls, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and a ring bearer.
We stopped at the grocery store on the way back. I’ve been fixated on making banana pancakes and I needed baking powder. I’ve never made them from scratch before, but it doesn’t seem too hard.

June 7, 2009
Today is Sunday, and so everyone is at church. I can hear several different choruses in Lugandan. It sounds like they are all competing for loudness.
I think we’ve made a friend. Andrew came over again today, but just to hang out with us and socialized. I made him try banana pancakes, but I couldn’t tell if he liked them or not. Ugandan’s are not very emotional people. Anyhow, it’s been a relaxing day just writing and reading. I even layed out on the porch for a little while. This coming week things are going to start becoming a little more busy. We are going to meet with several different people from the SAS foundation. Tomorrow we are also going to try to take the taxi by ourselves for the first time. Which us luck!
We made it into town by ourselves! I think we are starting to get the hang of things. Dustin and I are considering going halvesies on a modem thing for his computer so that we can have internet all the time. We will have to see how things play out today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

we're definately going to make it

June 2

We have this clock in our house that plays an electronic version of Fur Elise at eight in the morning. That is what I woke up to this morning. I always think it is the door bell. I had toast and honey for breakfast. The honey tastes just like cane syrup. I find comfort in a lot of unusual places like this. It happens all the time.
There are so many children here it is unbelievable. Everywhere you go there are children and every couple hundreds of yards there is a primary school. It seems like there is always one screeming within earshot of the house.
We were supposed to meet with Rev Obed today, but he has been ill, so today we were on our own. We weren’t brave enough to try the taxis because we still don’t know exactly how to tell them where we want to go, or how to negotiate the price. Instead we decided to walk down the main road in each direction for a while. It was very much an act of participant observation. It was not too warm to walk even though we got a lot of sun. So far the weather has been warm and sunny, but not overbearingly hot like it is in Memphis. People are surprised to hear that it is hotter at home than it is home.
Back to our journey along the road, we found a grocery store, bought a paper, found a baker, had coffee, and used the internet (That is when I made my last post). It is hard to explain how these things are such an accomplishment, but they very much are. The coffee we had was delicious, and I had a meat pie to go with it. Dustin and I had each drunk a small pot of coffee before we realized that we had drunk the local water. However, 24 hours later we are fine, so I think we will be fine, but it is hard to always be thinking about those sorts of things.
The internet has been really difficult and slow. It is REALLY slow, like going back to the dial up days, and it gets really frustrating. It was pretty funny to watch Dustin get frustrated with the internet while he was all hopped up on the caffine and it was going so slow. Because we want to maximize our time, we type out everything ahead of time and then just copy and paste it into the spaces so that we don’t waste our time on the internet typing. We have learned to economize a lot of things actually. All in all we probably walked about four miles. The closest internet is about one mile in one direction. I hoping that we will have an office with an internet connection soon, so that we don’t have to work so hard to get on the internet.
Today was the first day that I noticed how much people stare at us as we walk by. We are really out of place. People dress fairly nicely here even thought it must be so hot. Men always wear pants and often long sleeve shirts. Women also wear pants or long skirts. As we passed along the different nurseries the children would run up and wave to us. The children are really the only ones that will talk to us on the street. Even the toddlers know how to say hello and goodbye. I think they are just excited to see someone so different.
The biggest event of the day was that Dr. Muhumuza’s brother came by the house today. He is our age and is in college. I think he has been assigned to work with us and look after us at the same time. However, I was grateful to talk to someone my own age, and he has a very easy personality, as do most of the people here. He was very concerned as to whether we were comfortable or not.
I person also came by to bring us a phone, so we will be able to make calls now to all of the people we will be working with. This is very good for us, but we will not be able to make international calls from this phone. We finally figured out where it is that we live: Bokoto. It is more like an area of the city like we do in the states in the way that I live in Midtown in Memphis.

June 3, 2009
Today was also an eventful day. We are trying with much difficult to finish a draft for our research proposal. Reading the paper has been very informative and interesting. There is a lot of discontent with the government here, but that isn’t really a huge surprise, but the perspectives that people have are interesting. You often don’t hear about African peoples speaking out on their own behalf, but it is happening all of the time. I believe that one day, they will get to a better position. I’m not nearly as fatalistic as I was before coming here.
Andrew came over today to take us to the SAS foundation and the clinic, which were in two different areas. It was nice to meet the different people that are working for SAS. Everyone was very interested in talking to us. I met one person who had been to Memphis. I certainly did not expect to meet anyone who had been to Memphis. He did say that everyone was so nice there, which is very good to hear. People seem to like Americans here, as opposed to Europe, where they think Americans are heathens.
Andrew is very interested in working with us, so we are going to add him on to our research team. I think he will be more of an asset to us than he realizes. We have so many questions about the way things work, but he is very patient in answering all of our questions and providing us with information. I do think he gets a good laugh out of us every once and a while, especially when we try to pronounce words in Lugandan. Lugandan is the language that most people speak here, and it is the preferencial language of everyday life, although most people speak some English. I have also realized that we have much common ground in that we are all students. We were laughing about how students here try to sneak in kegs to the dormitories like we did.
My stomach is finally all better. The antimalarials were giving me terrible heart burn for a while. It is nice to be able to eat whatever. There are so many foods I want to try. But the biggest excitement is that I can drink the fruit juice. It is SO delicious. I wonder if there is crack in it because I drank almost an entire container of it today.
Tomorrow we are supposed to be meeting with the rest of people who are helping us with our research. I’m very excited to be moving forward, and ready to get into a routine. However, we are still needing some time to adjust. I find that the maximum amount of time that Dustin and I can tolerate in the city is about four hours. There is just so much going on, and everything is so different, and we have to make so many adjustments in the way we act even though we aren’t even talking to anyone. People don’t really make eye contact on the street, you only make eye contact if you want something, and it’s weird if you smile at anyone on the street. We are still getting used to the currency which is done in thousands. Often we pay people the wrong amount, but they are nice enough to give the money back when we pay them too much. But they laugh at us. There’s just too many zeros.
However, it is amazing how cheap different things are. We can take a taxi all over town for about 3, 000 shillings which is a dollar and fifty cents. Our stop at the bakery cost about 8,000 shillings. We got to small pots of coffee, a personal veggie pizza, and a meat pie. Less than four dollars in American money. In our research we have read that the majority of Ugandans live on less than 1 US dollar a day and around 90% on less than 2 dollars a day. It makes a lot more sense now. We are living pretty lavishly compared to the rest of the population, but we are probably only spending about 5 dollars on a regular day. Cheers! I miss you all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Just as a disclaimer my first blog from Kampala is going to be pretty long. So make sure you’re in a comfortable chair…

May 30-31
On the whole our travels were pretty uneventful, which I guess is a good thing. We made all of our connecting flights without having to wait around for a long time. The flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was roughly 7 hours and so was the flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe. They served curried vegetables as dishes on both flights. And each seat had it’s own screen, and so you could select an watch the movie of your choosing. I only watched one movie which was the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was good. I started some other movies like Marley and Me, but I got bored with them.
When we arrived at Entebbe, there were nurses there to check us for swine flu. All we had to do was fill out a little card, and I’m certain that some people lied on it. I saw one man with a cold pass right through the line. The nurses were dressed in dresses with aprons and those little hats that you have to pin on your head. Getting our visa was not a problem. Everything just took a long time. All of our bags made it, which is something that I was extremely worried about, but they both ripped as I pulled them off the conveyer belt (sorry Christopher). I’m going to have to buy some more luggage at some point. We weren’t sure how to go through customs so we just walked buy without having our bags checked at all. Reverend Obed was waiting for us with his son. I think he was worried that we hadn’t made it because it took us so long to get through all of the lines. His son’s name was Michael. He looked to be about 13 or 14. He texted on his phone the whole way home. It’s funny the things that are the same.
I’m so thankful that Rev Obed came to pick us up because we never would have been able to drive ourselves. Traffic was really scary. They drive on the left side of the road, for starters, and there are people on mopeds darting in and out of traffic. There are very few traffic signals. I was surprised at the number of people that were out and about at the bars that lined the road. There was a lot going on for a Sunday night, but it seems now that it was the normal level of activity. I was getting a little car sick on our drive from Entebbe to Kampala from all of the brake slamming and swerving to avoid other vehicles. We turned and twisted up and down the different roads until we turned onto a dirt road. From this point we progressed very slowly down a steep hill. We came to a heavy metal door. A man peeped out of a hole, and then opened the gates for us. I felt sort of like I was entering the city of Oz because the gates were big and green and heavy.
There was some confusion if anyone was at the house waiting for us because none of the lights were on. It turns out that the power was out, but Grace, who is going to help us around the city and at the house, and her friend Faith was waiting for us. Grace and Faith are their Christian names, but they have other more Ugandan sounding names. They showed us our rooms. They are both very comfortable. We each have our own bathroom, and the kitchen and den are fairly large. Grace had made us a late meal, which was very good. We had fish, green beans, and rice. Some where close to us there is a bar where they play reggaton and rap. I didn’t expect to be able to recognize some of the songs, but I did. I had some tea and then went to bed. I have to sleep under mosquito netting, but I didn’t mind it.

June 1, 2009
I woke up to the sound of roosters and children, both of which were crying. I was the first to wake up. We spend the morning writing and poking at the breakfast food that Grace had set out for us. Wheetabix was the cereal we had. It was different. It came in a whole loaf and you broke some off, but it flaked off a lot. It tasted like all bran. Grace came again. She cooked some more food for us for breakfast. For all those concerned, we never eat enough to satisfy her liking. I don’t think we will be going hungry any time soon. She took us into the city to change our money and buy groceries. The power came back on which was exciting. It was difficult to do anything by candle light like the night before.
The whole affair was pretty overwhelming. Supposedly 1.4 million people live in the city, and that number doubles during the day because so many people work in the city. There is very little personal space to go around. We took a taxi bus into town, which we shared with any where from 10-12 other people. There didn’t have to be an available seat for more people to get on. The taxi just goes a long a route and people get off a long the way. There are so many people on the side walk, that you are constantly bumping into people, but you don’t have to be as polite here and say “excuse me” when you do.
The grocery store was supposed to be the “Western” grocery store, and in a lot of ways it was. They played old country music in the store. One of the songs was a George Straight song. Dustin and I thought it was hilarious because Grace knew all of the words to the songs. It was difficult for us to explain why it was so funny. Some of the things we bought were interesting, like black currant juice and washing powder. We bought so many things that we had to hire a drive to drive us back to the house. I’m really glad we had Grace with us. I would have been a mess without her. I feel like a child again because I can’t hardly do anything for myself and I don’t know where anything is.
Along the way, we stop at an internet café, so that I could briefly write something. I hope no one was too worried about me. There wasn’t any place that we could stop up until that point. By the time we got back I was ready to be done. All of the new things were just overwhelming, and we were only gone for about 4 hours. Behind our house there is a soccer field and the kids were playing there after school today. Tonight the reggaton is going again, and I have spent the majority of the down time writing – trying to capture everything before I forget it. I am still forgetting lots of things.
The bananas are really good
There are only two channels on the TV.
I brought cards, but when we started playing I realized that it was a set of pinochle cards
I can’t figure out how to make the stove burner stay in the on position.
We bought a wheel of cheese =)
We bought powdered coffee, but it tastes like ash.
We still don’t have a phone
We each have a map

We are hoping that Rev Obed will come by tomorrow since we don’t have a phone. This is my biggest concern at the moment. But we do know enough now to be able to get around a little bit, so we won’t be wasting any time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hello everyone. I'm making a quick stop to let everyone know that Dustin and I made it to Kampala safely. I'll have to write more later because we are pressed for time. Much love to everyone.