Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meh, I guess I'll finally do this thing.

So I've arrived in Africa safely... about 25 days ago. And while internet and phone access was a bitch at first, I seem to have a decent handle on them now.  The power is out so I'm gonna be super stingy and post an email I sent home. So if you are a family member... you've already read this. Stop reading and go do something else, but if you aren't... well then have at it.

Hello Everyone and Greetings from Africa!
                I’m writing this email by candlelight. I know that seems contradictory, typing…by candle light… but electricity is on an off here and more recently it has been the later.  Sorry I haven’t updated sooner! I try to charge my laptop when I can, and usually by the end of the day after a bucket bath, super (dinner isn’t really used here), language homework, and a quick “I’m safe” text home, I have just enough energy to pull the mosquito net up over my head and pop my earplugs in before I’m fast asleep in Uganda dream world. Tonight, the forces seem to have aligned because I not only find myself with a charged laptop, but also the energy to update my loved ones on my life. I have no idea how to begin summing up my adventure into coherent, well planned and thought out sentences… but here goes nothing.
                Currently I am in a town called Wakiso. Because this is where the Uganda Peace Corps training center, RACO resides. I should probably find out what RACO stands for… but..meh. Technically I am right on the outskirts of Wakiso town in a village called Kasangombe. Not to be confused with the neighboring village, Gombe. (someone got a littttle lazy with names around here) Don’t bother trying to Google maps my village, stick to searching Wakiso. That will get you more accurate results.  From Monday through Saturday (we only get Sunday off to do bucket laundry, get caught up on language homework, and enjoy what little privacy we can carve from the day) I wake up around 6am (your 11pm) and by 7:15 begin my 40 minute walk to RACO. I’ll try to attach photos in the next email, but in the whole walk, I’d say about 50 feet of it are on paved road, or tarmac as they call it here.  The rest is a really pleasant walk along dirt paths through gentle hills of farm land. And with a banana in one hand, and my University of Florida Nalgene bottle of water in the other, I quite enjoy my morning walks. The odd cow and goat appear here and there, but they don’t seem to mind the Muzungus.
Oh what’s that?? You don’t know what a Muzungu (Moo-zoon-goo). I hear it about fifty thousand times a day I just figured everyone else knew. Here, muzungu means “traveler” aka, the white folks, the pale faces, the foreigners. Little children here must have hawk eyes, because they can spot me a mile away and begin shouting “See you muzungu!” or “Bye Muzungu!” They all mean well when they shout it. A few will follow me a little while, wanting to touch my hand or my arm, but being here as a Community Health Volunteer, all I see are all the tropical diseases they may be carrying. (side note: the care packages with hand sanitizer cannot come fast enough) By the looks on the children’s faces, I’m probably the most exciting thing they will see that day. Well, second exciting. I’m not sure if it’s because they just woke up, but they are even more excited to see me on the walk home, you know, the second time around. It’s like I’m the best TV show on earth and their whole day waiting for me was just one giant commercial. I keep waiting for the novelty of me to wear off… I’m starting to fear this will never be the case. I should be honest and say it’s not always an excited smile. Once or twice, I’ve made a child cry when they see my skin color. Both times the child pointed, screamed and went to cry and hide behind their mothers’ skirts. The mothers give me a slightly sympathetic look, mixed with a hint of, …ehhhh you’ll get over it muzungu.
                I’m in two hour training classes from 8am till 5pm, they consist of Ugandan culture, history, and acclimation, to tropical diseases (I’m up to around 12 shots total for vaccinations. Still a few rabies rounds to go, got my typhoid shot last week) And most importantly my language class. I’m learning to speak Runyankore/Rukiga. They two are basically the same language with a few minor pronunciation differences. The most exciting part about learning which language class you were assigned to was figuring out the corresponding part of the country it meant you were being send to in mid-October. I’m elated to announce I’ll be moving to the Southwest part of Uganda. The most luscious, scenic, green, and cool (temperature wise) part of Uganda. Mountains, valleys, lakes, the southwest has it all. The other Peace Corps trainers have made it clear, we are the region to envy. Learning this has of course only come with the task of not setting my expectations too high. Otherwise I will most certainly be placed in the only dry sandy patch the SW has to offer.  Because I’m sure you are curious, below I will show a little bit of my mad language skills acquired thus far.
Greetings! My name is Khayla, I am from Florida, in America, but now I live in Wakiso. I am learning runyankore.

Agandi! Ninye Khayla, ninduga Florida, omuri America, kwonka hati nintuura wakiso, Ninshoma Runyankore.

TA-DA =)

I have so much more to share, but if I give it all away now, what will keep you coming back for more???  So thank you for reading this and especially caring about me enough to read it all the way to the end.  And since you love me enough to have read this far, I’d like to say I love you back! Talk to you soon!

Oraare gye! (good night)
Khayla in Uganda