Monday, November 5, 2012

I love the rain the most... when it stops.

Sometimes really interesting or funny things happen and I think "people will get a kick out this for sure" but then power is out or my internet is slow or it's raining or something like that, and it never gets recorded. Sorry. An hour and a half ago, though, something interesting happened and it just so happens that it's lovely weather out, I just renewed my internet, and power has been on for a full 18 hours.  The fates obviously are clamoring for an update today.

I arrived home from town and shuffled up to my door, backpack and tote back laden with half my month's living allowance worth of groceries, only to be confronted with a bright green snake on my stoop.  A few weeks ago I came home and was in my house for a good half hour before I looked in the mirror and saw a snake above my doorway, watching me creepily.  I ended up chasing out of my house and up a tree, convinced that it was a green mamba.  Well, apparently it had returned, or it's twin stopped by to say hey, either way there was a green snake staring me down.  I slowly put my bags down, and ignoring the desperate cries of my cat inside, picked up a huge log and started hacking at the snake like a crazy person.  When I saw that it was injured enough to neither slither away nor attack I went into my storeroom, grabbed a slasher, and proceeded to try to cut the head off. My slasher isn't very sharp so the most I managed to do was bluntly cut it into sections, but it did the job and the snake was dead. Justice.

See my friend?

You may have noticed that I mentioned my cat inside meowing to get out, and you may also remember that my last entry ended with the sad tale of the cat running off and becoming a village cat. Well, a few days after that post, she came back, typical.  I feed her well enough that she knows this is home, but it's a double edged sword because it means that she stubbornly refuses to go hunt for her own food and instead yowls for a bit of whatever I'm eating, jumping onto the kitchen table and sticking her nose in the blueband (a horrible, horrible imitation of butter) A few weeks after our happy reunion however, I noticed that she felt a little rounder and that her nipples were more pokey and came to the conclusion that my kitten was going to have kittens.  I kept expecting her to miscarry since she was so young but she carried them to full term and two weeks ago I watched her deliver 4 tiny babies.  They are all seemingly healthy and while I'm enamored by them, I can't help think what crappy lives they are probably going to have.  Two of them are black and I can't really tell them apart, so I named them Bootes and Pavo after the kittens in The Night Circus (amaaaazing!) One is a dark charcoal grey and I'm pretty sure he's going to have white legs and chest when he's older, and the one girl is calico. Those two are still anonymous.  Tutors at the college have claimed them already and were insisting that I hand them over at 2 weeks of age, as if! They can't even walk yet.  I told them they could have them at 6 weeks old, which is when I'll be leaving for camp GLOW, so the timing will work nicely.  I'm worried about leaving Tia for December and January, when I'll be traipsing the continent, but hopefully it'll be a test run for when I'm leaving her for good.

This is Africa

Other than snakes and kittens, I've actually been quite busy at the college, but it's mostly been a project of my own choosing rather than teaching.  Back in July I met with the girls to see if they'd be interested in learning how to teach the reusable menstrual pads program that PCVs teach, and they said yes, but that they couldn't pay for the training materials (a sample pad, and a rice sack for making a visual aid of the menstrual cycle and reproductive system).  I wrote a grant and it was approved, so I spent a few months opening the bank account, waiting for the funding, and getting everything together.  One absurd morning I spent at the bank trying to withdraw the funds.  I got there at 8:30, when it was scheduled to open, but had to wait outside while the floor was mopped, furniture was arranged, wastebaskets emptied. Opening time is a great time for all that, no?  Anyway the line quickly filled and I had to wait for my friend who was the co-signer on the account.  Ugandans don't really use lines the way Americans do, there can't be any space between two people, or at the front of the line between the person being helped and next up.  A general lack of personal space is quite evident, and that, coupled with a lack of air conditioning and an overabundance of time waiting, got to me in a way that things usually don't get to me. Let me also add that the bank has a helper, who wears a sash and is in charge of minding the line, making sure people have the right forms, and directing them where to go.  When I finally got to the front, I had this man, and the eight people behind me literally within a four foot radius of my person.  The sash-wearing bank shepherd was peering over my shoulder telling me this and that, telling me I needed to go to another window when I asked the teller the balance of the account, and telling me I wasn't allowed to do that when I looked him in the eye and crumpled the paper he'd just handed me. In short,  I lost my cool. In a bank. Surrounded by Ugandans. It was embarrassing, but I was just soooo over it all, the slowness of everything here, the lack of personal space, the people peering at my bank slip, watching me write out "one million two hundred thousand..." and my account number, the clicking of the tongues when something goes wrong, being told "You're not in America..." It's days like that that make me think, ever so cruelly, "I win. I have a free ticket back to America, the greatest country on Earth, and you have to stay here."

Re-usable, washable, made from local materials, incredibly affordable

After that experience, preparations for the workshop went smoothly.  I commandeered the college van for a day, justifying it by putting in $8 worth of gas, and got all of the shopping done, refusing to leave anything un-purchased for another day. Let me just say that trying to get "everything done in one day" here is a feat, and I accomplished it. The shopping at least. I cut and prepared 150 pad kits, organized a ton of information, made the schedule, prepared activities for the girls so it was interactive, basically I was not only ready, I was stoked for this workshop. Of course it's Uganda though, so it started late and barely kept to the schedule and people came and went as they pleased. But at the end of it, 117 girls had shown up at SOME point, and at least 40 were there the whole time asking questions, participating, making the pads and the visual aids, playing the games I'd planned, and hopefully got a lot out of it.  I have a ton of extra materials so I'm going to chill out and regroup for a few days and then see what to do.  Options I'm throwing around are offering it again, this time to the gents since they were left out the first time around, or going to the primary school and offering a workshop there.  I told my girls if they want to teach it during school practice next term that I have extra pads they can use and I'll go with them to teach, but that it's up to them to initiate it.

Sewing sample pads

Other than that I've just been hiding out in the village for way too long, trying to save money and begin some semblance of a tan so I don't immediately fry in Cape Town. Power has been awful lately, so has the weather, and Airtel got rid of its unlimited texting plan, so there have been inumerable boring days spent daydreaming about things like really good red wine, the new camera lens that Stella is bringing me from America, and melted cheese. I escaped for lunch with the other Lira girls a few weeks ago, but apart from that afternoon of pizza, I've been alone here for over a month. I think that's a record, it's certainly something I never intend to do again.  Cannot WAIT for Thanksgiving!


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