Thursday, May 12, 2011

Every day is like an adventure

I've been a Peace Corps Volunteer for three weeks today, and living at my permanent site for just one day shy of that. I feel like my house is finally taking on my personality, and that I'm more and more comfortable in this community. I finally spent all my settling in allowance, purchasing a sofa, arm chair, end table, and coffee table as finishing touches. I still want a second table for food preparation, but that will come eventually. After buying the furniture I hung up the maps I'd bought forever ago, one of the world, and one of Africa, along with letters and cards that I either brought with me or received in the mail here, and an envelope with a snippet of Scarlet's hair from her last haircut before I left. I hung up pictures ranging from Jenny and me in ballerina costumes before I had hair, to the photo booth pictures of Nora and me at my going away party. I got really homesick looking through everything and remembering how much everyone in my life means to me. I looked at a picture from when I was a camp counselor at CCL and thought about how that was seven years ago. In seven years I'll have been home from Africa for five. Life moves fast, so I'm not going to fret too much over this, but I do miss everyone terribly and hate how much in their lives I'll miss while I'm over here. I hate that my dog will be two years older when I get back, especially since dogs live so short to begin with.

Kitchen somehow coming together? 

Hideous color!

Another tutor (teachers at Primary Teacher Colleges are simply called 'tutors' - it doesn't do much for the self-esteem) told me that I don't visit enough, so I'll try to get on that in the coming days. I think part of the problem is that the situation of my home on the campus gives me probably the most privacy a PCV has ever had. My house faces away from the road, the edge of the campus at which there is a small hill that goes down to another road that I am pretty sure goes to Lira, but haven't tested yet. When I'm out in my yard cooking, washing, reading, investigating bugs, or observing lightning (all of which I do a lot) no one can see me unless they are specifically walking around my house to come greet me. That is unheard of among volunteer housing, and I've decided it's both a blessing and a curse. I don't have the automatic on display status that many of my colleagues have, but I also don't have the taken-for-granted interactions with my neighbors that would come as I wash my clothes and wave to the women doing the same. When I do walk up to the market, I greet every single person I come to with a smile, a wave, and a "kop ango?" or some other nicety. Perhaps my favorite thing here in the north of Uganda is how incredibly friendly everyone is as soon as that barrier is broken. Skeptic faces of men and women break into smiles and laughter as I catch them off guard, saying hello in their own language instead of my own. Every person I talk to boosts my confidence to walk a little further into the initially terrifying market, ask about one more vegetable, ask one more person's name. I have never encountered a friendlier community of people.

Rachel and I spent the last few days together at a workshop to rival all workshops (I'll tell you about it someday). Walking home yesterday evening we both sort of had a "Holy crap, I live in Africa" moment. We agreed that what was weirdest was that it doesn't feel all that weird: walking past the most adorable baby pigs through stalks of maize, having to fill jerry cans for water, using a latrine, only having hot water if I heat it myself on the gas stove, brushing my teeth in my yard... all those things that people were shocked I'd have to do over here feel like more or less like they're completely normal now. I drove home from Loro this afternoon, crammed in the back of a car with my bags on my lap, looking out over a landscape that took my breath away. Whatever I pictured Africa to look like before I came, this was it. Incredible thunderheads, purple and orange, rain off in the distance, green, lush bushes and acacia trees as far as the eye could see. I wanted a camera in my head to project what I was seeing to everyone at home, but there's no way a picture could ever do this justice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liz, you must write a book. I've always known that you've had a talent for writing and reading piles upon piles of books yourself, and now I think you have the prefect opportunity to write a book. You could always take snippets from your blog and I'm sure you'll have enough for a book in two years :) I miss you dearly, but I'm also just so happy for you! You're amazing ... and always have been!