Saturday, April 7, 2007

I'm a muzungu now

It has now been confirmed, to any of you skeptics, that there is indeed internet in Uganda!!! There may only be internet in the few large towns, and there may not always be electricity, and when there is a large town AND electricity it may take 20 minutes to check a single email, but there is internet none the less (actually, internet accessibility is growing by leaps and bounds in Uganda, as is a lot of other technology). But that doesn't mean you are all excused from writing me a good old fashioned letter, as so many of you promised to do before I left. So far only my mother has followed through on that promise. Thanks Mom!!! So the rest of you better step it up, or I'll be making new friends when i come back to the States! Just kidding, but seriously you should write me because then people here won't think that I'm an outcast in America cause I never have any mail....

So far being in Uganda has been an experience to be sure, a seriously great one. Since I arrived, and for the next 4 weeks, I have been living in a town called Luweero. Each volunteer in my training class, which is 50 people, lives with a different Ugandan family in Luweero while we complete training. My family is great, it has been awkward at times--many, many times--but they are super sweet and nice to me. The pictures at the top are of the house we stay in. My host mother, Robinah, is the woman standing next to the bicycle. The picture to the left is my 'brother' Sam. He is two years old and acts completely and utterly indifferent to my presence. The family speaks Luganda (which is the language I am learning) and English, so I can communicate fairly well. They gave me a room and they cook for me and are just generally excited to have me around. The food is good, but insanely based upon carbohydrate intake in huge amounts. They want me to eat a heaping plate of food--seriously heaping--two times a day and have three tea breaks with substantial snacks. At dinner my family has matooke (unripe bananas steamed and mushed into a mashed potato tasting paste), potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, plain noodles (which they call 'maceroons'), cassava, and posho (a millet porridge). All in one meal. Then we will also have a little beans and peanut sauce or possibly some fried (bitter) greens. It is an Atkin's dieter's worst nightmare!!!!!! It tastes good, but it will be a relief to be able to cook for myself again just so I can increase my vegetable intake. Plus, I don't eat what they consider to be enough food. Being fat in Uganda is a sign of being healthy and well taken care of. So everyone would know how well my family is treating me if I gained a lot of weight, so that is their primary goal I think. My host mother told me she wanted me to get so fat that when I sent pictures home my friends and family wouldn't recognize me! I'm trying not to let it get that out of hand..... My "sisters" Sanyu, Lillian, and Loy are peeling Cassava for dinner in this picture.

To get to and from the place where we meet for our training classes I ride a bicycle. While wearing a skirt. And the bicycle is seriously too large for me and has one tire which consistently goes flat. But it works, and it is only a mile or so to the training center. Ugandans call white people muzungu, which pretty much just means 'white person.' so when I walk places or ride my bike there are constant calls of "muzungu! muzungu!" The best are the children though, they get a pretty good chant going. It goes "byyyyyyyyeeeee muzuuuuuungu, byyyyyyyyyeeeeee muzuuuuuuungu, byyyyyyyyeeeeeee muzuuuuuungu." I am not sure why they all say 'bye,' rather than 'hi,' but no one seems to be aware of any derivative of the word 'hello.' This is probably because there is not an equivalent word to 'hello' in Luganda, the local language of the area. Alright, my time is up. As they say in Luganda, "Beera bulungi!" Or, stay well!

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