Saturday, March 30, 2013

White Tiger

I know I am sucking at this blog thing this time around. It’s just different somehow; everything feels more like normal life and less like a travel adventure in need of documentation. So, this is what I intend for this blog entry: I have made a list of a variety of things that have induced some sort of emotion beyond indifference and I will write a brief paragraph (or not, let’s be honest…) on each of these things.

First on the list is my scooter. In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” The convenience is just the icing on the cake. My scooter and I have become one; when I’m driving around Jinja being laughed at by the Ugandans and spitting out bugs, I love my life so completely. Let’s be real, it’s just plain fun.

This past week was the first in two months that I didn't go to Kampala…needless to say, the novelty has long since worn off. Despite that, it still lends things to write about. For one, a while back on the way home from Kampala late one night, we could see a huge cloud of smoke and the telltale glow of flames off in the distance. Truthfully, the size and scope of it was unnerving considering we had heard about riots happening somewhere in Kampala that day and had no idea what was going on. It turned out to be nothing more than a massive sugar cane field being burnt to the ground (they do it intentionally to renew the soil), but it was still pretty intense to drive by.

The second notable Kampala experience also included knocking something off my Uganda bucket list…twice. I can now say I have driven in crazy dog-eat-dog Kampala traffic. We got a new van right before I came back (thank Jesus ‘cause the RAV is a death trap) so we've been driving ourselves instead of hiring a car; much cheaper and much more convenient. The first time was fairly brief and I was really on edge because just after I took over we saw a police officer literally pull a driver off his boda and drag him off the road by his collar; it was a wee bit unnerving. The second time, I was full of confidence even though Em W was navigating and neither of us were sure about where we were or where we were going. Unfortunately my confidence apparently led me to miss a sign and I was pulled over. The lady traffic cop made me get out so she could point down a hill to show me what I had done…I still have no idea what I did. She said she was going to give me a ticket, but I laid on the charm and pleaded, “Nyebo, I have never had an infraction and I have been trying my absolute best to follow all the rules of the road…” I followed that with the subtle placement of my hand on her shoulder to establish a connection and she sent me away with a side smile, a slight wave of the hand and a “You go…”

So, our puppy is now living in Karamojo. The short story is that a while back our other dog, Maggie, attacked her. She recovered without medical attention but it was horrible and after that happened we had to separate them. Poor Molly was exiled to the back of the house where there was only pavement, not much in the way of entertainment and limited physical contact with Kate and me. We tried supervised visits but there was no way I was ever going to trust Maggie again so friends of Kate’s have taken her north to live happily with their 7 kids on their sizable compound where she will certainly be much happier.

I’m working on getting my work permit here so I can a) live here legally and b) not have to renew my visa every 3 months. Part of this process has involved getting a letter of good contact (aka criminal record check) through INTERPOL in Kampala. In order to apply for this, I also had to stop by the Canadian consulate. Em H had to get one too so we went together and I was kind of excited about it. I thought, INTERPOL…it will probably be really fancy and official and cool. Um, nope. First step, waiting inside a cement hut just to receive a bill that had to be paid at a specific bank in order to come back and get fingerprints taken. Luckily the bank was right next door to the consulate so it didn't involve too much running around. Given the American embassy is huge and super fancy, I had high hopes for Canada but, alas, I was wrong. We have a small office with a tiny sign that I nearly walked past in a big building surrounded by many seemingly more important establishments. There wasn't even a single Canadian inside, but to our credit, everyone was super friendly. So, back to INTERPOL we went and had our fingerprints taken in an army tent. All in all, not at all what I was expecting.

Storms, storms and more storms. Rainy season has officially arrived and I will never, ever get tired of the downpours, the lightening and the thunder. Oddly enough, having the scooter makes it much less of an inconvenience when it comes to getting around. One of the two boda “wrecks” I've experienced was due to slippery conditions after a rain storm when the boda slipped out on the dirt road to Ekisa; thankfully I was fine but it scared me none-the-less. The other was a minor head on collision, but nothing to write home about. :-) I was also in a mutato (taxi) recently and a boda ran straight into the back of us, but that doesn't really count as a wreck. Basically, I trust myself more when the roads are slick because I only go as fast as my comfort level allows. It really is bloody slippery sometimes so my caution is well warranted. Back to the storms, though…lying in bed at night listening to the rain pounding outside is one of the most enjoyable parts of my existence on earth.

I now have my own desk. If you don’t know how happy this makes me then we need to spend more time together because you don’t know me well enough. :-)

I am now officially part of our nearly all Ugandan worship team. My pastor’s wife, Debbie, and I make up the whole of the white people. Oddly enough, I’m not even singing…just keyboard. After an announcement at church and a week and bit of procrastinating, I was the only one that stepped forward. I played for the first time last night (couldn't hear ANYTHING) and get to be up at 5am this Sunday to play at the 6:30 sunrise Easter service.

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend and the former senior pastor of PPAC, Paul Wartman, was in a town called Mukono about an hour and a half from me. I was able to meet him at his hotel and we spent a couple hours catching up and just sharing. It was a wonderful time of encouragement and I so appreciated his wisdom and input in my life. Plus, it’s just plain cool to have someone from home come to Uganda. On that same note, I recently found out a dear friend from home will be on the team that is coming with Peace Portal this summer to spend time on the compound in Mpigi. I am so excited to have them here, you can't even know.

A bunch of us went to an Easter carnival last Sunday. We were curious about what we would find there, but really our main motivation was the prizes. There were three available: a stay at two different hotels/B&B’s and an hour long plane trip over the Nile. I won’t drag this out…I won the flight (my first choice) and I’m so excited. The orphanage is across from an airfield and I can’t even count how many times I've thought about what I’d have to do/pay to get up in a little plane. Now to pick my 2nd person…names in a hat to avoid having to choose maybe?

I think there’s a mouse/rat living under my bed. They’re in the house, that’s for certain; even though I've never seen them...we routinely find poop on the couches and in other places. The other night I woke up to what sounded like something chewing on my bed frame. Good thing these things don’t bother me.

And finally…I was recently talking to Em and Sam (our Ugandan counselor) about how we need walkie-talkies so I don’t need to walk back and forth from where my desk is in the house to the office outside every time I have a question for her. Sam suggested call signs, to which I replied, “Sam, what should mine be?” Without missing a beat, he suggested...White Tiger. After we stopped laughing, I pondered the meaning. The first part is rather obvious and the second part, well, it must have something to do with my timid and subservient personality.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My house on Kiira Lane

Finally, some pictures of my beautiful home. One small house for two girls and a dog and I pay about a  3rd of what my rent was back home. I am so in love with this place, I can`t even tell you...

Our gate, like most, has a wee door that even I have to duck through...

I could have tidied, yes, but these pictures were taken during a work break, so it`s a real life scenario...

Kate`s in the master bedroom and it has an en suite, so this bathroom is essentially mine...

 Where`s Waldo...