Molly in Africa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Light is coming"

My language classes these past two days have been great and today and I definitely had an "ah ha" moment when we were conjugating the verb to go and my teacher, Herbert, turned to me and asked, "Light is coming?" and I thought that describes things very well right now. Light IS coming.

I joined my host family on Sunday afternoon and they are great! There's a sign in the living room/family room area that says something along the lines of- you are welcome in this house. we may not have the best of food or offer the greatest things, but we give, we give with love. It's very true. :) They live in a small house- i don't know the exact material used for the house but, cement or concrete? is that the same? I don't know... my bed is larger than my bed at home and I bought a nice mosquito net to put up so that's been great so far. We use a pit latrine which is located outside in an outhouse... there is a cement floor with a rectangular hole and there's a cover that has a large stick attached to it that you just move away from the hole before going to the bathroom and then you replace it afterward. We have a bathroom... literally. It is a cement room which is about three feet wide and ten feet long (total estimates). There is a drain in the back right corner and when I get in there, there is always a plastic basin (about 18 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep) with water in it. there is a clothes line hung from the door and the window and that's where you place your towel and clothes while you are "showering". Very interesting experience and I definitely found myself laughing at myself as I fumbled through my first two "showers". We shower twice a day (morning and night) and that is not negotiable.

My host family's name is Lule, so I've decided that I'm going to call my host mom "mama Lule", but she doesn't know about that one yet, so we'll see. I am roommates with Gertrude, who is 25 and across the hall is Aunt Joan. Mama Lule sleeps down the hallway and that's all who lives in the house. My host dad lives in Juba (in Sudan where the LRA/Ugandan gov't peace talks are going on right now) and he came down on Sunday for my arrival. I felt very special. :) I have two "brothers"- Fred (19) and Ivan (20) and they don't live with me. Fred is in college (equivalent of our first two years of college) and Ivan is in university (equivalent of our last two years of college plus one more year... i hope that made sense). I also have one more "sister", Rachael and she's married and has a 5 month old son, Daniel. She actually got married one week before David and Maryjoy, so we bonded over that when we met on Sunday. All the sibs were there on Sunday, but left by Sunday night. I will see some of them this weekend. Rachael invited me to stay at her house on Saturday and she has running water- flush toilet and real shower! So, I'm hoping that plan still goes through.

Some logistics about Uganda-
load sharing: There are power problems here in Kampala and we have power about every other day (this is called load sharing). The first night I was with the family was a power day so that was nice to get my bearings when there were lights. Oddly, I watched the Fugitive on tv with them... I'd never seen it before so that was interesting. Last night, we did not have power and I think I liked that better... I'm for sure investing in a lantern when I return home because they really do the trick- I have no need for excessive power use, that's for sure.

transportation: we have mini-bus taxis which are 15 seater vans that you see EVERYWHERE! the two people working it are the driver (obviously in the front seat...oh, but on the right side because it's not like america in that way) and the conductor (who sits on the left side in the first row of seats behind the driver). The conductor sticks his head out the window and is pretty constantly calling the destination of the taxi out the window so that other people can join us if they want. traffic here is NUTS! Cars and taxis are RIGHT on top of each other and it's ridiculous! mama Lule is going to try to help me take a picture of it this weekend... I haven't taken many pictures yet because I don't want my camera to be stolen and I've been warned by everyone here that that is a completely valid concern... actually I didn't have the concern until they told me I should be. The other form of traffic is motorcyles which are another taxi type service. you sit on the second seat and they take you places. They can weave in and out of traffic easier and can fit on the side of the vans on the streets so they are much quicker. They are called boda boda's and they are off limits for SIT students. so lots of traffic- it is a tricky task to cross the street, but so far I've done quite well.

overall, in Kampala it is VERY dusty. I always come home at the end of the day with a layer of red dust (yes, red... i don't know why, but that's the color of their dirt). also, lately i've been noticing how dry my contacts get in my eyes so i will probably start carrying around eye drops.

um... that's all I can think to write now. More later. Oh, wait, food- we've had rice and beans for the past two nights at home and that's wonderful. we also had matoke the first night which is made from green bananas (plantains) and i'm not a huge fan, but i can choke it down with the best of them. :) And passion fruit juice is always available and that's awesome... i really like it. So, I'm very happy here and life is good.

New friend of today's blog: Marisa. She's from Massachusetts, but goes to school in CA. She's always outgoing and optimistic so we have found it helpful to talk together because other people are not always as happy as we are and we don't want to gloat. She's been great though and I've also been able to have a few heart to hearts with her, so that's awesome. Ok, now I'm really done.

Thank you all for emails- I've LOVED them! Keep 'em coming if possible. :)

Webale bannyabo ne bassebo! (goodbye ladies and gentlemen!)


At 12:39 PM, September 05, 2006, Anonymous Dad said...

OoooH I'm so proud of my Molly. You are exactly where and how you should be! I'm so glad you and Marisa have found each other. You need people to share your joy.
Love, Dad

At 4:50 PM, September 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly,
It's so great to caught up on your adventures thus far. I was thinking of you, particularly this past Sunday, and missing you already. You are in my prayers and heart, keep us posted on all the excitement. Uganda sounds very similar to Kenya, I remember my first time in that traffic, you do get used to it, I promise! love, Shannon

At 1:57 PM, September 06, 2006, Anonymous cindy schomisch said...

Hey, Boo-Boo!
I have a very understanding boss who is letting me write a few words here at work. I am enjoying reading all about your adventures. I think of you all the time and am sending lots of good vibes Uganda way!
Cindy Schomisch

At 9:18 AM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Janet said...

Hi Molly,

Way to go!!

THanks for the vivid descriptions. It's nice to be able to picture where you are and what you are doing.

Love ya,

At 10:58 AM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Anne Persaud said...

Molly -
I laugh as I read your descriptions. You have such a wonderful positive attitude toward life and it is infectious! I am so glad that things are going well. Thanks for sharing your excellent adventure - I love the stories and YOU!

Anne Persaud

At 11:23 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Luke said...

Wow, Africa! I can't believe you're in Africa. You did it Molly. I just had an image of you slopping water from a barrel in an attempt to take a real shower, it was quite hilarious. Good luck finding that running water- although I'm sure you'll become used to the lack of it in no time.

My friend Brian is right across the lake from you, in Mwanza, Tanzania. If you find yourself bored and with power, you may be interested in his blog.

At 7:36 AM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Molly, I'm loving the updates and very glad to hear that you've got such an extensive Ugandan "family", to share your experience. Why are twice daily showers "non-negotiable"? Is it the dust? Or is it custom? Hope you are doing well, did the CD's do the job? Take good care, Love, Aunt Colette

At 4:36 PM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Molly,
I just wanted to say that reading this brings back so many awesome and crazy memories of my adventures in Africa. The dirt most definitely is red and yeah, thank you for posting it makes me more and more excited to go back! I'm praying for you! God bless!

At 3:35 PM, September 24, 2006, Anonymous margaret said...

Dearest Molly,
Thank you giving witness to everything you are seeing and hearing and tasting and knowing...thanks for bringing us with you.

I am crying and laughing at the same time while reading your comments here. You have such a wonderful easy writing style and I can just imagine you saying the words aloud to us - which is a great comfort. I love the - we don't "want to gloat" comment which put you in the league of "happy optimists who are sensitive to others' pain." HOWASOPs?

Blessings and prayers we send your way on a bright autumn morning in Skokie. Fr. Vega's (visiting priest whom I really appreciate)homily today was written for you: Mentioning Dorothy Day, Gandhi, King and Romero, he said we are called to put the gospel message at the heart of who we you and what we do. We are not called to safety, security, comfort and convenience. Amen. Alleluia.

Thanks for being a light, for leading the way.



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