Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bucket Baths and other Fun Facts.

         If last entry’s theme was dirt, this theme would be water. Well… it was going to be water. I had this whole entry planned on my ponderings during bucket bathing. But due to a treasure of an experience from yesterday, today’s theme must sadly be reallocated to “liquid”.  SideBar: People, This post is going to be a little sporadic so just bear with me. Is that the right bear? Eff my English is already slipping. Oh well, it wasn't much to brag about to begin with.

Background: Running water is almost non-existent here in Uganda. If someone does have it, it is coming from a rain tank, has a tint darker than my fairly tan skin, or has a parasite in it that wants to kill you, KILL YOU.  So when the end of the day approaches and I realize I smell like how I imagine a hobo tastes, I grab my 10 gallon plastic bucket, head outside past the covered cooking area and fill-er-up from the rain tank.  For the most part the water is, correction, looks clean. But I find that if I let the water sit long enough in the bucket, and lovely little film will form at the top. (I don’t know why I do these fun little things to torture myself, like when I hold my drinking water bottle up to the light to see if there are enough particles to make a mini tornado by spinning the water around) Some people listen to the voices of experience surrounding them and follow as directed. Then there are those of us who prefer to learn through our own experiences, I believe the aforementioned group calls these folks “morons”.

SideBar: Dang, ooohhh the bittersweet irony of being a member of the latter group;  always needing to learn through my own experiences…::cough going to Africa for 2yrs cough:: As soon as I typed that last line, my entire GI tract lurched letting me know it is once again time to drop the kids off at the pool. (that means shit) Except dropping the kids off would imply I have something solid to deposit. I wish that was the case.

So I fill my bucket up and head inside to the bathing room, aka the tiled room of watery death.  Because there is nothing I have found to be more humbling than carefully bathing and scrubbing for 15 minutes only to slip on the first step towards reaching for your towel. Furthermore, splaying and falling into the giant puddle full of crud which used to be on you. Correction: is on you again…

WRITING BREAK:  I’m currently doing my future site visit. Where I get three days to go see the organization I will be working with for the next two years.  If you go check my facebook you’ll see photos of my future house.  “Ni Kirungi” It is good.  Anywho, just took a writing break to walk for a half hour to town and almost had my 3rd fall in this country about two feet outside my door. I slipped in cow shit. Just another friendly reminder that I’m not in Kansas anymore. I’m  not worried though. I know which little bastard did it. The same little black and white calf circles my house every evening. I’ll get him back…

Back to my story; So if the power is off, I go look for a candle which has been melted to an upside coffee mug for a candle holder. This way I can prop it up on the toilet lid (Don’t start thinking I have it too easy because I used the word toilet. I use that term loosely, and remember? No running water. I’ve still squatted and crap bagged into a hole). But, if I was to be completely honest… sometimes when the power is on, I still use a candle.  It creates a nice glow in the bathroom, kinda romantic. ;) Probably the most romance I’ll see in the next two years… sad panda. I’ve learned though, and write this down folks if you are planning a romantic candle evening for someone special, the lower the candle is to the ground, the larger and less flattering your shadow becomes. One of the first evenings I used the candle I saw something move out of the corner of my eye and thought Shrek’s Shadow was creepin on me.  I collected my cool, raised the candle up a few notches, and continued scooping water up in a cup from the bucket to dump on myself.

BTdubs. (Old folks, that means By.The.Way. If you still don’t get it, go ask a hooligan who can’t remember a time without cell phones) After the water sits all day in the shining sun in a black rain tank, it still manages to achieve a perplexing temperature of “frigid bitch” There are some baths where I’m positive my nipples will be hard for the rest of my life. I could go through the trouble of boiling water to heat things up… but I always manage to burn myself, or the charcoal stoves are being utilized for more important things like cooking dinner for the family, and I don’t think I’ll gain any Africa respect if I ask the fam to stall dinner so the Mzungu can bathe comfortably.  I realize that last sentence might have confused a few people;  I’m staying with a homestay family right now, I’ve been here about a month, and have one more month to go, then I’ll move to my permanent site and home. My homestay mom is Jane Bakubagana, and while she technically has two biological children, through whatever events, there are now 9 teenagers up in this hizz-ouse.  We’ve goooooot Derrick, Dickens, Eddison, Flavia, Goretti, Annett, Rose, Shillah, Becky, and now Khayla! Not so surprising, I’ve yet to hear my name pronounced correctly in this country. Johnson is way easier, but people always laugh when I tell them my “other name” (They don’t have last names here, just other name.) Because in Uganda, only a boy would be named Johnson.  Soooo thanks dad. =)

Returning to the bucket bathing… Final word of advice. Even though the drain is usually in the corner of the room, you don’t have to be that close to it. Give yourself some room to breathe. And Bend. Because after falling, the 2nd worst thing to happen after bucket bathing is; after one last bend/crouch to  dump the rest of the water out, and as you stand back up you feel a gentle scrape against your bare, freezing, ass cheek. Oh yes, you’ve butt grazed the filthy wall. AND you just dumped out the rest of your water.  I’ve done this more times than my pride will allow me to admit. And every time it’s like Africa is literally licking my ass, teasing that until I’m back in America. I will never be 100% clean.

So this post is looking a little long, I’m gonna save the mysterious liquid story for the next blog. I hope your anticipation of said story wasn’t the only reason you were hanging on this far. My bad.

Mzungu out!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shit or Mud? You decide.

          If today's post had a theme... which there is no reason it couldn't, so I guess it will. The theme is dirt. Mud. Clay. Crap. Dust. Filth. You name it, I've had it on me, or in my mouth, or in proximity to me at some point in the past month. =)

          Before I continue, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what type of blogger I want to be. I’ve never done anything like this before, keeping a journal. I tried multiple times as a girl growing up.  I’d buy a super cool hello kitty journal, write in it for about a week then call it quits. I don’t want that to happen with this. So please harass me if you feel me beginning to neglect this blog. Which form of harassment is up to you.
Furthermore, I’ve been torn on what type of tone to take in my writing. I’ve read other  Peace Corps blogs and good God some of them are so boring. Sometimes I have inappropriate (and in my opinion High-Larious) perspectives on things and I want to be able to be myself and write it all down without PG censorship.  It wouldn’t be right to have a blog for my friends and a tamer blog for family members. So I’m going to just put it all out there and hope you all still love me anyways when I get back (this means you Grandmas, both mommy skip and abuela chuchu) Besides, if I reeeeeally upset anyone, it’s not like any of you can even reach me. Suckas! Also don’t want to worry anyone back home if I have a bad day and vent about it on here.  I will have my cynical days, days where I exaggerate things. Please don’t immediately go to kayak.com and begin looking for the fastest way to get me home. Everything will be okay. I wasn’t sure of this at first if I was going to be honest. The first few days my emotions felt like a Mexican jumping bean. (I’m not racist, that is a real thing, I swear) But today is my one month anniversary with the Peace Corps, and I’m here to say I’m doing great!

Okay, back to the dirt. Today I had a “I hope Africa doesn’t turn me native” moment. I looked down and saw a reddish brown smudge on my calf and thought… “is that shit or mud?” and while my immediate next thought a month ago would have been “where the eff is some soap and water, asap!” all I managed to think today was “eh, whatever it is, I’ll get at it later if I find some water” And people I wish I could call that my filth low… Also, come to think of it… that wasn’t the first time I had to ask myself that exact same question. PREFACE: about 80 percent of the roads in this godforsaken place are just slick clay mud. And something tells me 80 is too generous of a number. Another Preface: It rains all the fucking time here. I walk to training every morning in industrial second hand rain boots I bought for 14,000 shillings, (about $5) my North Face rain jacket, and a poncho in my backpack just in case. To have anything less than this would be asking for trouble. Where was I?... oh yes, shit or mud. So my first week at the training site I didn’t have my boots yet and I bit it big time. (grandma, that means I fell. Hard. On my ass.) and the mud here is like melted peanut butter, just thick and slick. My skirt, legs, and everything else was covered. And God bless those little children, they didn’t laugh at me, but just kept on shouting “see you Mzungu!” (if you don’t understand, please go read my first post. Why the eff wouldn’t you read these bad-boys in order? Also note I have learned the correct spelling of Mzungu) Anyways, I got home and tossed my skirt and shirt in a basin to start soaking. It wasn’t until later that I took off my underwear before bucket bathing (I’ll save that little gem for the next entry) and saw a giant brown stain covering 60% of the backside of my drawers. At first I panicked and thought I must have gotten some super form of diarrhea where you lose any, and all, control of your anal sphincter and you ghost crap your own pants. (Because apparently this is the type of life I live now, where this is a functional thought) Upon leaning in and sniffing (you would have done it too bitches) I recalled my earlier splash in the mud. This mud made it through my jean skirt, thick bike shorts and my underwear. Touché Mud. Touché.  

Wow, at first glance, this long post looks like I really accomplished telling you all about how my life is going here. And instead I managed to tell you about the two times I thought I had brown butt fudge on me. I’ll try harder next time… maybe.

Love you all and miss you! Mzungu Out!

P.S. Hope you appreciated the font color.