Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sorry Everyone, i can't get the computer to read my flash, so an update will have to wait until Tuesday.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Starting to get the ball rolling

Wednesday 5/26/10

Today has been a busy day. I had to make myself get out of bed because I’m still not adjusted to the time difference. I’ve been waking up in the night about the time of dinner in America, and can’t go back to sleep. Grace came today to cook for us, and she made some traditional Ugandan food: Matoke, which is the green bananas boiled and mashed, peanut sauce, cabbage and greens, pineapple, tomatoes and avocados. It was all delicious and it was fun to watch Meagan experience it for the first time. We also had fresh tangerine juice, which was amazing. The food is so good here. Lastly we stopped by my favorite pizza place today and got a pizza with pineapple and ham. Delicious. Enough about the food, we also worked today.
Most of the time was spent trying to print and send emails, and get all of the correct forms to the appropriate office to get our approval to do research. Of course we had all of the wrong items, and didn’t make enough copies, and I’m supposed to have four copies of my passport photo instead of two. We also got lost trying to find the office. I think deep down I knew that this was going to be a first attempt, but I’m still adjusting to the pace of things, and am anxious to get moving forward.
Our meeting at the Foundation balanced out our filing experience. The people we met last summer welcomed us warmly, and it was enjoyable to talk with them again. Rev wasn’t there but we met with some of the new employees that they have hired. It seems that the program has made a lot of improvements, many of which are based on the recommendations from last summer. That makes me feel very good, and is a compliment to our work.
I was happy to get home after the long day. We took a boda home this time, which is a motorcycle that you can hire to take you around instead of riding a taxi. Meagan was definitely afraid but game for the experience. She has been really good about trying new things. When we got to the house Grace had cooked a big meal for us to last several days. It is nice that we won’t have to cook tomorrow. She cooked some fresh beans for us, which is one of my favorites, for tomorrow. We finally got a really good pineapple.
After dinner Dr. Muhumuza’s brother, Andrew came by for a while. It was nice to catch up with him. Tomorrow we will see another one of the friends that I made last summer. =) Starting to have fun and relax.

Thursday 5/27/10
I thought that I would wake up earlier today, but I had no such luck. It was almost noon when I got out of bed. I think Meagan was also frustrated that she wasn’t able to get out of bed. She is an early bird like me. I finished up my writing from the day before. We ate a quick breakfast/lunch and then headed out.
Today we went to get some more passport photos made. When they took the pictures I felt like they were glamour shots. They had me pose and everything. We went to the post office and the bookstore. The book store had a lot of books about Obama since his father is Kenya. Actually a lot of shops and restaurants are named after him.
I forgot that you really have to demand attention from people if you want any kind of service. People don’t assume that you want something from them even though you are standing there. When we went to the post office the lady was chatting with a friend and only paused briefly to answer our questions. Same thing with the other woman who was selling the maps. People are just very social and are continuously in conversation. It is something that I’m not used to, but maybe it would be nice to have a job where your friend could stop by and chat with you while you weren’t doing your work.
While we were waiting for our friend to get off work, we sat down in the park. A group of young were trying to take pictures of us without us noticing. I think they were embarrassed when we did see, and then took pictures of them. Our friend also spotted us in the park from a distance like a bad Where’s Waldo. There were probably a hundred other people (but no white people). I am constantly reminded of how different I am, but things are slowly becoming more and more comfortable again.
It was dark by the time that we got home. It is difficult to walk on the dirt road at night. There are only a few lights. You sort of have to walk like you might be stepping into a dip so that you are ready when you actually do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Couple of Days

Sunday 5/23

We finally made it to Kampala after a long journey. I spent a lot of the time sleeping. I guess this time around I’m a little more relaxed because I could sleep on the plane. On the plane ride from Detroit to Amsterdam, I requested a glass of wine with dinner and the flight attendant asked me how old I was. Irritating. We arrived in Entebee a little late because we were delayed in Amsterdam, but it didn’t take as long as I thought it would to get our visas and our bags. They weren’t checking us for swine flu this time, and I made sure that I got a stamp on my passport. All of our bags made the trip safely.
It didn’t take us very long to find Rev Obed, who drove us from Entebee to Kampala. Meagan was pretty tired at this point, and so was I. I realized how tired I was when I was standing on the wrong side of the van, trying to figure out how to open the passenger door when there was no door at all. Many things were just how I remembered them. People are still driving just as crazy and the roads are so congested, continuously choked and slowed by people getting in and out of taxis, people trying to peddle small items while you are stopped, cars that are stalled, etc. The temperature outside was very comfortable with a light breeze. By this time it was pretty dark and you could see the different lights across the small towns that we passed.
Rev brought us directly to the compound, and we are staying in exactly the same place as we did last time. Grace, the lady who cooked and cleaned for us two days a week last summer had sent one of her nieces to wait up and prepare a meal for us. I felt much better after having a shower and eating a little something. The niece’s name is Janette, and she didn’t hang around for too long.
I went right to sleep, but had trouble sleeping all the night through. Grace came to check on us early in the morning. She looked really good and she said that her new baby was doing well. I also spoke with the grounds keeper who we had made friends with last summer named Gerald. He was always very kind to us. Since I was awake I began to unpack, but I didn’t get very far before I fell asleep again. It seems like I didn’t have this much trouble adjusting to the time change last time. I didn’t wake up again until 2:30 or so in the afternoon. I woke up Meagan so that we could begin to adjust to the time difference. We were both still groggy when we left the house.
We walked into town, one because we didn’t have any money, and two because I thought it would be a little bit easier for Meagan instead of riding in the taxis. I think walking down the side of the road with the way that people drive was a little unsettling to Meagan. However, it was nice to look at everything with fresh eyes. There were some new buildings that I didn’t remember. My favorite coffee house is gone =( I dumped as much information on Meagan as possible with the hopes that some of it would stick. I know it will take some time for her to learn all of the different areas in the city.
A funny aside, as we were leaving I showed her how we go in and out of the gate, and then close the door behind by reaching through the peep hole to close the latch. She was a little unsure about having to reach through, which was funny because we came back later and she tried to unlock the door. As she was feeling around for the latch, the guard came up from behind the gate to open the door and grabbed her hand. She screamed and jerked her hand out. We all laughed.
Anyway while we were walking the 3-4 miles into town, we stopped in the coffee shop where my friend Joan used to work. She wasn’t working that day, but was supposed to be in the next day. I’m looking forward to getting in touch with her again. We continued to the exchange bureau and got our money. Then we stopped at the internet cafĂ©. We will be limited for a little while on our internet usage until we get our modem back. It seemed to be faster than how I remember it. Meagan’s wasn’t working at all which was frustrating to her. I think she was anxious to get in touch with her mom, but we got it all worked out.
From there we went to another coffee shop that was closer by. I was starting to get really tired, so we some drinks and some fruit. Meagan ordered this drink that turned out to be terrible. It was ginger tea with a lot of lemon in it, so it was super sour and made your face contort when you drank it. Later the waitress explained that it was supposed to be for people who have colds, which makes sense because it was pretty potent stuff. I took the safe route and ordered a latte, which was delicious, so I shared it with Meagan while they made her another drink. They could tell we didn’t like the tea. The fruit was fantastic. Meagan said it was like she never had a banana before that day. I agreed that they were excellent, and they make you frustrated at what they try to pass off as bananas in the US.
We also had watermelon, pineapple, papaya (which they call pawpaw), apples, mangos, tangerines, lemons, and passion fruit. The pineapple and papaya was really good too. I had never had passion fruit before, and it was pretty weird. It has a hard rind which you crack open. On the inside it is sort of slimy with crunchy seeds. Although it tasted good, the texture was too weird for me to handle. Meagan didn’t really like it either.
I decided that we would take a taxi back toward our part of town. We had to stop along the grocery store along the way. Crossing the street to get to a taxi stop is always a little precarious, and Meagan always waited for me to step out into traffic first. It feels a little funny being the leader, although I know it is necessary for the time being. Most of the time I wait for a Ugandan person to step out first anyway. In the taxi is was packed. There was a little boy and a mom sitting next to Meagan who kept smiling at her. He was really cute.
When we went to the grocery store, we picked up some of the things that we will be needing, and carried them back to the apartment. I can tell that I’m out of shape because I was getting tired carrying the water. Towards the end of last summer I could carry a pretty heavy load without getting tired. We lost two eggs out of twelve in the transport, which I thought was pretty good given that they just put them all in a plastic bag with the rest of the items.
We put everything away and Meagan took a shower. The power went out just as she got out. My lovely headlamp was perfect for the occasion and Meagan got to use her too. I’m sure we looked pretty funny walking around the house. We had to cook dinner without electricity, which was fine since the stove is a gas stove. It took a couple tries to get it lit. We finally ate an avocado, which I have been looking forward to for some time now. It was very good. Then we sat down to write some.
Then we had a roach incident. Meagan went to use the bathroom and there were two big ones in the bathroom. We managed to kill them both with a lot of screaming, and spraying of bug spray. At least I know that when I sleep under my mosquito net it keeps out bigger things too. The power came back on shortly after that which was good so I didn’t have to be afraid of the shadows that my headlamp was casting and thinking that they were roaches. The bats were also out last night, but I actually like the bats because I know they are eating the mosquitoes. There seem to be a lot of them.

Tuesday 5/25
I slept a little better, but I was still having lots of dreams. One of my friends from last summer called at 8:00 in the morning and I could hear the phone ringing in my dreams. He said that he was sorry for calling so early, but he just couldn’t wait. It feels good to know that people are excited that I am back in town, and I think that they are really going to like Meagan too. I also know that I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining as to why Dustin is not here, which I will have to deal with as it comes. I’m trying to be professional.
I woke up a little earlier today, 12:00, so hopefully by tomorrow I will be waking up at a more reasonable hour to begin my day. Meagan got up right away when I got up. I love her enthusiasm. I’ve been making lots of phone calls, trying to catch up with people. I feel like we have so much to do, and it will require everyone’s cooperation to pull it off.

Monday, May 24, 2010

We're Here!

We finally made it to Kampala after much traveling. Many things are exactly the same, and a few things are new in different. We are staying in the same exact place as last time, which is really nice. Meagan is pretty tired, but really positive for the first day. I have posted the link to her blog, but let me know if it isn't working. I wasn't able to test it. We don't have internet at home so not much time to talk. Will post more very soon.