Friday, July 20, 2012

Travel Terror Part 2, The fun keeps on coming.

Time for part two of my travel tales… I know I said in the last entry that things had gotten too lengthy to continue, so I would break the storyline into two… but a little part of me thinks I was just too embarrassed to speak about one travel story in particular. Because if my life was represented in a line graph of embarrassing moments, this story would certainly be one of the higher peaks. Now, because joining peace corps has taught me the value of delayed gratification… I’ll save that truffle for the end of this blog entry and start you off with a simple quip of a story.

Bothersome Bride Price

A few trips ago I was taking the bus from the capital city to my site, a journey whose time has ranged from 5 ½ to 13 hours, and in America would take 3. I know. UN. AC. CEPT. ABLE. Do better Uganda. I nice Ugandan guy sits next to me, nods politely and we begin our journey  to the Southwest. Typically the buses play on blast whatever fuzzy radio station the antennae duct taped to the roof is picking up. And since most music here is composed of a beginners bass beat on repeat and some men shouting rapidly in a language I don’t understand in a terrible impression of Busta Rhymes… my diagnosis is: intolerable. My mother who repeatedly had to shout during my upbringing for me to turn down my dribbling excuse of music can tell you, if I say the music is hard to listen to… it’s prettttty bad.  My point? I travel with earbuds in my ears and listen to music from the first to last kilometer of the journey.  Maybe due to this my peripheral vision vision was heightened? Because the first four hours of the journey I got to watch the man next to me psych himself up to speak to me about 20 times.  ::Turn to talk to me, raise an arm to poke me on the shoulder, think again and put arm down::  In return I would think in my head “good boy.” But dammit to hell if he finally didn’t find the courage on the 21st time and I finally felt the poke on my shoulder. 

::Poke Poke::
Me as I pull my earbud out: Yes?
Sir: “It’s just that…in my whole life…never have I sat next to a Mzungu on a bus, even one who is so beautiful”
Me as I’m thinking oh great here we go: Thank you, but my name is not Mzungu, I don’t call you African, do I?.

Thinking maybe he will take a social cue, I quickly slip the earbud back into my ear. One year in this country and still I can be so ignorant. 

::Poke Poke::
Me as I pull my earbud out: Yes?
Sir: “Where you come from, do you have bride price? I want to know yours”
Me: [sigh] “No, In America we do not have bride price. In theory, if you love someone you treat them with respect and kindness and if you both agree, someday you can get married.”
Sir [pausing, creasing his eyebrows and thinking very critically]: “…But then what keeps women from leaving the marriage?”
Me: “Again, in theory, Love”
Sir: “So would you ever date an African”
Me: I would date whomever I felt I could love. But dating an African presents troubles because I’m not going to be in Africa forever.
Sir [clearly skipping the whole LOVE part]: “Because my friend at work started dating a white woman and now they have a child and his life is much better and he has money now”
Me: “That is good for your friend” [slipping the earbud back in]
::Poke Poke::
Me as I pull my earbud out: Yes?
Sir: I want to give you my number and you come visit me soon
Me knowing he’s seen me text on my phone already during the bus ride: “Sorry I don’t have a phone” [Futilely slipping the earbud in once again]

I’m going to stop with the dialogue here, but the poking went on until I got off the bus an hour later. I’d put my earbuds back in, he’d poke and try to find a new way to phrase “You woman, me man, I want you” It’s rather obnoxious. This isn’t the first time this happened, and it damend sure won’t be the last. There seems to exist this mentality in Africa of “The savior white-person.” Regardless of any single outlying factor, no matter what, the white man (or woman) will prove better than anything else you are going to encounter in your life.  And I know my explanation of the marriage system in America was very simplified and I could have added, figuratively, a million “excepts, unless, but sometimes etc…” But I already altered the broken English the man was speaking for your viewing pleasure, so don’t be an ass and over analyze. a.k.a. Don’t be the kid who raises his hand in class and corrects the spelling of something the teacher just wrote on the board. NOBODY likes that kid. And if you didn’t have a kid like that in your class, FUNFACT: it was you, asshole. 

I want to backtrack a little to the bride price, because you probably got a good laugh out of it, and someday I will too. Bride price is a really atrocious thing. It traps women into their marriage because it usually comes in the form of farm animals or food, in a nicer family maybe a home or mode of transportation. But if you ever want to get out of your marriage, you have to payback your bride price, which in this country tends to be literally impossible. In positive news, Uganda is progressing and has recently passed a law outlawing bride price. Obviously this won’t stop them from happening, but it will stop a woman from having to pay it back if she gets the courts involved.  How often will a woman be able to get the justice system on her side?... we will see. But it’s a step for Uganda. 

I guess when it comes down to it… Love is a Luxury. So just maybe, if you’ve found someone to love and who loves you back you need to always let the petty shit slide because it could be worse… you could be praying to God to meet a white person in a taxi someday or be trapped by your bride price. 

Okay, my tolerance for writing seems to have run out. But, never wanting to deny the good people an entertaining read. I’ll post what I’ve got so far. As always, have fun laughing at my life choices. =)

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