Friday, December 17, 2010

Black Pepper

There's been a lot of culture sharing over the past few months by virtue of living in very tight quarters with 5 wonderful Ugandans. While not exactly the most monumental of feats, one aspect of American culture that has crept into the home and habits of my hosts has been the adoption of black pepper as a staple spice at every meal. It cracks me up when we begin a meal and the girls jump up to search every corner of the room for the pepper grinder which Baracka, the 6 month old, has usually hidden in a secret spot only visible to babies. As everyone takes turns with the pepper grinder Junior would exclaim that they are now 'black Americans!' Every night I tell her that in the US black Americans are also just Americans, that we have people who originate from every corner of the world, and that if she were to visit the US no one would guess that she wasn't American by looking at her. Despite the nightly declarations of being 'black Americans!' I do think that she has gotten the message. It's become a ritual that I love, and it makes me laugh every evening. I never expected black pepper to be such an important part of my life in Uganda.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Atoole's Intuition

Atoole, my supervisors very corky 6 year old grandson, has become one of my most important allies here in Ngai. Whenever I come back from a day out in the field he's always the first to greet me. He often wears his clothes either inside out or backwards which I appreciate greatly for comical purposes. He gives me random, aggressive hugs, and is often sent to deliver urgent messages which I pretty much never understand being that they are delivered in complicated little kid Lango. He's by far one of the most accidentally funny kids I've ever met. I love having him around.

Considering how much better Atoole makes every experience by virtue of being funny, I decided to have him come with me to the trading center to run some errands. The trading center, which is home to all of our little dukas, is about a 10 minute walk from the health center down a sparsely trafficked dirty road- our main road. The dry season is in full swing and as a result everyone lets their livestock roam free in search of water. The lack of water makes some of the cows a little crazy. While I don't have any ways of knowing for sure I'd say that it's about 100 degrees during the day and there aren't many ways for the large bovine to find relief.

As Atoole and I neared the trading center 4 cows ran into the road bucking wildly and blocking our way. Having had only limited experience with angry cows, I decided to follow Atoole's lead. Despite the fact that he is only a child I knew that Atoole had spent all of his 6 years living in rural villages in Uganda- he would know what to do. We approached the cows and I followed as Atoole passed them on the left, looking totally unfazed. Just then one of the animals set it's eyes on us and started running madly in our direction. To this my fearless leader literally threw his arms up in the air and started shrieking and running away at full speed. Predictably, I started laughing uncontrollably and was unable to move. I managed to get out of the way and Atoole eventually calmed down. The important thing is that now I know that if I'm ever being chased by a wild cow again the best thing to do is panic.