Monday, April 11, 2011

The shortest answer is doing the thing - Hemingway

Back from future site visit, rested and decompressed. My trip up to Lira was pretty uneventful, by my current standards of travel. We arrived in Kampala at about 6:45 am, hoping to catch the post office bus (a bus used to transport mail all over the country that also ferries passengers at a reduced rate, but more slowly due to all the stops). We apparently were misinformed that a post bus even goes to Lira, because there isn't one. We ended up at the regular bus park, hoping to get a seat on Mawenzi, a pretty reputable company. Too bad Mawenzi didn't leave until 11am. We sat for four hours, funny how this barely phases me anymore. The trip up was fine, we arrived a little before five, and I met my principal in the bus park. He drove me to a house where I'd be staying, since my house on the campus wasn't ready yet. Then he took me to the campus to see my house.

It's very simple, but nice. I have four rooms plus a pit latrine in my yard. The building is long and rectangular, with three doors down the long side - a bedroom, sitting room, and kitchen. On the short side there is a wash room with a shower head and tap. I have electricity and running water, though I'll have to collect water from my wash room and walk it around to the kitchen to boil and cook with. I asked if they might be able to put up gutters and a rain barrel since it seems silly not to collect water in a country that has two seasons devoted to rain. All of the doors are exterior, so to go from my bedroom to get a snack, I'll have to go outside. This worries me slightly, but I will either: get over it, never do anything after dark, or ask that they knock down an interior wall and put in a door. I'm a bit curious about pad locking my doors every time I go use the latrine or bathe around the corner in my wash room. My doors did not have pad locks on the inside, just those little locks used in bathroom stalls, so I played the mom card and told my principal and the burser that I promised my mom I'd be as safe as I could here, and that if she saw small locks that weren't pad lockable she'd want me to come home. This seemed to make sense and they agreed to put bigger locks on the inside. The walls are all freshly painted, so I feel bad about wanting to paint bright colors, but I really hate white walls, so I will force myself to get over the guilt and paint away. I can't wait to get settled in and make it my own. I have a long list of things to buy, it's so different from all my other moving lists that I've made over the years; jerry cans, wash basins, squeegee for the latrine floor, gas stove, etc.

The front of my house - room on the end is my bedroom, one in the middle is sitting room/kitchen, one on the end is technically the kitchen but used for storage (there's no ceiling so leaves and spiderwebs and gecko poo are more abundant) 

Back of the house, and the first part you see walking up. The door and first window are my bathing area, the second window is in the back of the kitchen. The first and second vents are my sitting room and bedroom, respectively. 

I have a shower!


I've talked to a few other trainees, both here and in other countries, who are at similar points in service. It seems the common theme among some of us is excitement mixed with apprehension of having to do this on our own now, and a healthy sprinkling of serious self doubt. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be, and it might be a lot easier to call it quits and fly back home if it wasn't also incredibly wonderful and by far the coolest thing I've ever done. Every day I feel torn about how unreal it is that I'm over here doing this, and how much I miss my dog. I reread parts of the Unofficial Volunteer Handbook (effing amazing resource - everyone should buy it!) occasionally to remind myself of what are "normal" feelings at the stage I'm in. Currently I should be feeling anxiety, irritated, fright, frustration with myself, and homesickness, among other things. So basically I'm right on schedule. One part of the book reminds me that I've pretty much volunteered for psychological difficulty, and that being here can be compared to a 27 month long self awareness retreat. Hmm. I keep reminding myself that there are no actual barriers to doing this, only mental ones, so it's really just a matter of being stronger than my doubts are.

I got a card from my older brother today that made my day. Seeing our names on the mail list is the best feeling, all of us on there just have this glow for the rest of the day, waiting until five o'clock when we can pick up what has arrived.

Love and miss you all!!!!



Travis Hellstrom said...

Hey Liz! I'm Travis, the guy who wrote the Unofficial Handbook. I'm really glad it's been helpful to you, if I can ever help you with anything please let me know. : )

elizabeth said...

Hey Travis, I think I met you in the fall when you came to UF to speak at a Globe Talk :) Thanks!

Teacher Jim said...

And now Travis is telling others, like me, about your blog. Good luck on 'your' adventure. And we look forward to reading more.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Travis Hellstrom said...

I think you're right! UF is so lucky to have such great support and great Volunteers! I'm very excited for you, I think you're going to have an amazing experience. : )

Travis Hellstrom said...

Amy said we should post your review up on Amazon. If you're feeling it, I would like to read your thoughts on there: Best wishes for your upcoming swearing-in!