Saturday, March 24, 2007

First post from Africa!

Okay, now we get to the more useful part of the blog, when I actually post about uganda and the things going on here.

I've been here for three weeks now, and i'm starting to get settled in. my fellow PCTs (peace corps trainees) are awesome, and it's been easy getting to know everyone. other things have taken some getting used to.

firstly, there are no toilets here. i thought that i was fine with this, since there weren't toilets in india either. unfortunately, the ugandan pit latrine is a bit of a step down from that. it's just a cement floor with a small hole in the middle, about the size of a brick. this makes aiming an issue, but still not too big of a deal. the problem is that at night, it becomes party central for monsterous cockroaches. the first night i thought about using it, i opened the door and there were probably 30-40 waiting for me, moving their antennae back and forth for no other reason than to make the scene creepier. i held it.

the food here is also getting a bit tired. it isn't bad, but it's just a bit on the bland side. we eat almost nothing but starches. matooke is the staple, it's mashed up plantains. other than that, there's sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, posho (think cream of wheat without so much cream), millet (don't think about it), and usually some beans (my personal favorite).

training is tedious, but it's fun to hang out with everyone all day. the language is coming along all right. i'm learning ateso, which has no rhyme or reason to it, and happens to be tonal, which means that the pitch and vocal inflection used to say a word can sometimes determine its meaning. it's interesting though.

by virtue of the fact that i'm learning this language, i now have a reasonable idea as to where i'll be headed in a couple of months. the teso region is out east (all of us new volunteers are heading out east) and a bit north. it's near the karamahjong (sp?) tribe, which is a tribe of cattle herders (look it up on wikipedia, it's pretty interesting stuff). it's also a bit warm, so i guess i won't get the endless san diego weather i was hoping for.

okay, that's the basics, i'll throw down an anecdote or two.

on my first day with my host family, i was sitting in the living room doing nothing. this of course was quite the event in the neighborhood, so a small crowd grew outside our window looking inside. when i would wave, they would giggle and some would run away. it was a lot of fun. at the same time, my little brother jacob, who is 5 and always looks like he's done some mischief, decided that i looked like sadaam hussein, and began to call me musadaamhussein. here in uganda, they call foreigners muzungu, which is harmless. they also call asians muchina, and indians muhindi, or muindia, or something of the sort. apparently this has a negative connotation. it's no skin off my teeth, seeing as there's nothing i can do about it.

speaking of which, there's a wall calendar that's posted in a few places called the rise and fall of sadam hussein. there are a bunch of candid shots of him with fun captions beneath. i guess you had to be there.

on sunday, my host dad has decided that we are going to watch indiana jones and the temple of doom. he wants me to explain all of the religious symbolism in it. i tried to explain that most of it isn't very true, but i don't think it quite worked.

i feel bad that i haven't posted anything about the other volunteers here, but i'm not sure if i'm allowed to mention names, so i'll leave it mysterious.

i've been riding around a hero bicycle. it's a single gear, made in india, and it takes a lot of strength to get going. it's nice though, being able to get around town quickly.

my nalgene got stolen on the flight over here, but luckily a friend of mine here is letting me use one of hers. not a big deal, but i felt like a big dork drinking out of my camel bak during training sessions.

i made quite a few enemies a couple of weeks ago at a bar. everyone here supports manchester united, aresenal, chelsea, or liverpool. on st. patrick's day, i happened to be at a local establishment that was playing a man u game. of course, eevryone in the bar was rooting for manchester united. i decided that it was time to teach them about the evils of the top 5 clubs, and how they just try to buy championships, and the usual "how can you root for the yankees" speech. this didn't go so well. they told me that fulham wasn't as good, and i agreed but said that wasn't the point, and they didn't understand and stopped finding me funny. well, i tried.

i received a letter (thanks zach) and it made my week. any and all mail is extremely welcome.

so, my host family is great, they're all really nice, and my host dad knows a lot about international politics, so there's plenty to talk about. they're also really accomodating to my muzungu needs, and i appreciate it greatly.

we've started a PCT writing group, and hopefully i'll have something to post sooner or later. also, i'm trying to drub up interest for a nanowrimo attempt, since genius loves company, and so do i.

okay, i just decided to torture myself by looking at metacritic, and here is my official wish list of cds that people could send me:

LCD soundsystem
Arcade Fire
Andrew Bird
The Besnard Lakes

this may grow, so perhaps a cd full of mp3s is what i want for christmas. please. i'll love you forever.

also, if there are any strangers reading this blog, feel free to contact me as well. i'd like to know if anyone is reading this besides my friends and family. and leave some comments.

okay, i don't really have much to say, and it's really hot, and i'm running out of time. hopefully i'll have access to e-mail every few weeks or so, so feel free to shoot one over my way.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

So Long America

Well, we leave tomorrow morning for Uganda. We went over some Peace Corps blog policies, so I'm not supposed to post where I am or where I am going to be (for my safety). Of course you know I'm in philadelphia right now, but the policy goes from here on out.

Staging has been a lot of fun. There are a lot of cool people here, and i'm really happy with the group. I'd like to write more about it, but I don't want to ruin it for any future volunteers that might be reading this (I know i've read pretty much every peace corps blog on the internet).

Internet access is going to be really sparse for the next few weeks, so it might be a while before my next post

Okay, I don't have too much time, so this is it. Farewell folks, and keep in touch. My mailing address was posted below.