31 May 2007

Apology - "So, yeah... it's been awhile"

Firstly I want to apologize that I haven't been able to update this blog and more than that I want to apologize to all the people who's letters I haven't responded to yet (Ken & Nicole, I'm going to write you emails - Michelle and Brandi, I promise to write you this week, which means you'll get it in about a month). These last few weeks have been a pretty big transition period with swearing in, moving into site, then there was a 2 week hiatus where I was at an education workshop.
I've had so much to say over the last few weeks and didn't write very much down and now I'm drawing a blank and the clock is ticking. I think I'll do another set of bullets.

New Home in Kayonza
* Pretty cool, still furnitureless except for a bed, but a bookshelf and cooking table are in the works
* Really love my neighbors and have been trading food, beans for matooke (which are unripe bananas which you cook and have about the consistency of mashed potatoes), pineapple for roasted maize, and been trading some English for Luganda.

The Last Three Days in Kayonza
* There was one day that was just perfect: Biked to the market and got food (in Luganda), came back and washed clothes by hand, played with Kenneth the neighbor boy (about grade 5) who never stops smiling, and had a good conversation with my neighbor Yeko outside in the dark under a mostly full moon (it's cooler out there than inside)
* There was one day that sucked: my cct informed me at 9 am that there was going to be a meeting of headteachers at 9 am, so rushed back, the meeting started around 10:30 and then lasted until 4:30pm at which point I was tired, disgruntled, head-ached, and famished. I didn't eat a big breakfast, had hurried to look "smart" (the prevailing term for looking nice - appearances are important here), and then nearly the whole meeting was in Luganda so I didn't understand anything. I cleaned some more of my dirty walls to releive some stress.
* There was one day that was okay: details boring.

The Last Two Weeks in Iganga at an Education Workshop
* There were quite a few volunteers staying at Chris' house (anywhere from 2-6 at one time).
* The workshop had very little information, but plenty of free food, I was amazed at how much money was thrown at this workshop compared to how much the participants actually got out of it.
* For many days of the workshop I read about Macroeconomics and found some interesting graphs.
* Played cards and games after hours and met some

New Bike
* Forgot to get front shocks, but maybe will buy and install them.
* Anyone want to send me some new v-brake pads? The ones I have are kinda crappy.

* Really wishing I had a computer so that I can
--write better things than this
--organize pictures into the content
--read all the livejournal stuff I've been downloading while at the internets
--teach peeps here some computer skills
--help out my cct
--store pictures and burn cd's
* So, I'm thinking that even though it's a risk and might cost a bit that I'd like to have my laptop sent here (man, I shoulda brought it)

Mail Situation
* At this point I have to come into Kampala to get mail, which means that I'll probably only get it every 2 weeks, so I may be "somehow" (this is correct Uganglish usage) late in getting mail.

Besides all that I can't really think of what's new. I'm excited to actually start getting into some real work next week. It looks like there's at least 2 secondary schools which I'll be helping out in Math/Physics.

(Pictures next time)
Loves y'all,

11 May 2007

Even More Pictures & a little update

I finally have a decently fast connection (~DSL), so I'm taking this opportunity to upload some pictures - still surprised that most computers here don't have Cd burners though. Pictures of my new abode soon to come, although it still needs a $h!t-ton of work.

(note: HSTY = Home Stay Thank You)
* Another real old picture of the inside of my homestay family's house.
* An older picture that I'm just getting up of a cool cactus thing at Nakaseke College.
* A picture of just about everybody reading a magazine from America on mail-day. A recentish (i.e. less than a month old) is like gold here.
* Me and my homestay parents in our finest at the HSTY
* (from left to right) Megan, Natalie, Cecily, Olivia, and Andrew (trainer) cutting some traditional rug at the HSTY.
* Rick & Rishi with an awesome Uganda-American medley (it was like 10 minutes long) and one of the highlights of the HSTY
* (from left to right) Aggie (trainer), TJ, Amy, Kinsey, Megan, and Katherine doing a dance at the HSTY
* Me giving my speech in Luganda at the HSTY

Hey all,
Things are going pretty well. Yesterday was my first full day at my new home in Kayonza and it went well. My major success was being able to boil some water so I'm on my way to being able to live there. I don't quite have a bed yet, so I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor (but I'm pretty used to that kind of thing). I spent nearly the whole day yesterday cleaning the walls of what will soon be my bedroom, they were amazingly filthy and I figured they should be cleaned before painted so the paint sticks better.

I was also very lucky to have a ride from Kampala and the Swearing In Ceremony to my site in my supervisor's truck. It would have been pretty much impossible to take all of my things by public transport (they gave us a lot of books and other bulky things; lantern, bucket; during training) and I have one of the lighter luggage loads among the PCV's.

Today I'm in Kampala mostly to buy a mountain bike - Anybody have any tips for maintainance? I'm thinking that I'll want to find a cheap and decent substitute for chain oil (i.e. cooking oil?) and I'm not sure about patch kits and things, maybe I can find some. I'm also going to buy a little electric stove because the electricity has been pretty decent lately and it would be a lot easier than using my kerosene stove. I also have a plan for getting rid of the massive amounts of bats in my roof - mothballs, who would've thought.

Well, this is kind of boring and I need to go get things done, so I'll leave it here. Peace out from the Peace Corps.


03 May 2007

Pictures: Mostly Birds, Clouds, and Pretty Things

More Pictures!!!

* An amazing picture of Wes (left) and Bunza (right – look at that face!) posing back-to-back.
* “Look’t the soize of it!”
* A view through the mango tree.
* A high shutter moon shot – thought it looked neat.
* A little bird with a bright turquoise stomach that reminds me a lot of Peeps (the heavenly Easter candy), that really make me want to catch one and pop it in my mouth. Probably wouldn’t melt as deliciously though : ) And sorry this is so dark.
* A cool yellow bird.
* Neat cloud shot. I watched the top of this cloud expanding like a marshmallow in the microwave as the storm built. It’s so cool how quickly weather changes here – ‘cuz of the ITCZ I think?
* Two of the cool iridescently blue birds with stark white eyes (hope you appreciate these bird shots Grams & Gramps ;). I like the one that’s got it’s wings open just about to alight.
* Here’s a nice illustration of how incredibly dusty things get over here. It took some good scrubbing to get that shoe clean too!
* I’ve been trying ever since Philadelphia to get a good shot of the moon, and this one turned out alright – I’m not really sure why there’s a double image and that line is one of the powerlines outside my homestay house.
* I barely got this picture of one of the really neat herons that are all over and amazingly graceful.
* This is a cool shot I got when I was playing around with the shutter speed trying to take a picture of the massive downpour of rain coming down. (This one goes out to you Jizzle!)

Future Site Visit - Almost done w/ Training

Future Site Visit last week went as well as could be asked for. I left Luweero around 6:30 am with a mutatu (a van taxi) brimming with Muzungu’s (the local word for “white person”) and arrived in Kampala after some interesting and bumpy side roads to avoid traffic. A quick search through the bookstore for a Luganda-English dictionary (I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t find one) and a delicious and rare meal of mini-pizza were the only distractions on my way to the taxi park.

A big, flat, dirt lot, surrounded by small market stands, crammed with mutatu’s and people which at times will try and grab you to get into their taxis (regardless of where you actually want to go)—the taxi park can be a bit intimidating. Also, I’m really glad that I went to a big university because I gained some valuable “walking skills” there, namely “collision avoidance.” In a big crowd at UW you walk with purpose, you point your head in the direction you’re going, and must constantly adjust as you look at the flow of people around you on all sides. It’s important to have that skill in a taxi park where there’s not only people moving every which way, but also taxis navigating the throngs and impossibly small lanes.

Anyway, no real problems, I just pulled out some basic “Kayonza Stage eri wa?” [Where’s the Kayonza Stage?] and some “Saagala (amazzi, emere, omugaati, amawulire, etc…) ssebo” [I don’t want (water, food, bread, newspaper, etc.)] to all the vendors that circulate the park. After deflecting that for two hours—you often have to wait for a taxi to fill up before it leaves, there’s not a set schedule—it was smooth sailing to Kayonza.

Kayonza is a pretty small town about 24 km north of Kayunga on a bumpy dirt road (the district, like a county, has the same name). It has roughly the same environment as Luweero because it is only about 50 miles to the east and the thing I noticed most about it is how quiet and tranquil it is. The main road runs through the town, but when a mutatu drives by you can hear it when it is far down the road and draws your attention with all its noise. During the five days I was there I didn’t do too much beyond visit nearly 20 schools by bike, but at most there was nobody or maybe a teacher or two because it was in between terms. I also talked more with my counterpart and he was very nice in accommodating me in his house. Currently my house has a few problems (bats, no furniture, dirty walls, and massive spiders), but I should be able to iron them out in the first couple weeks or so. I also realized how spoiled I am here at the Mukiibi home where they have battery backup and I got to experience bathing, eating, and reading by lantern light because of how infrequently the electricity actually works. One night we also had tea outside by moonlight around 8:30, which was almost surreal and pretty friggin’ sweet.

Not much more to report there, except that I managed to get my cell phone stolen on the way back through Kampala (sorry to all those that didn’t even know I had it, I didn’t call the States because it’s so expensive, I was mostly using it to keep in contact with other PCT’s)– pretty big bummer, but I should get a new one soon and whoever wants the number should just let me know (I don’t want to post it here on public domain).

This week has dragged a bit because there’s just a lot of things to do, and my mind has been a little divided: we present our Qualifying Projects, must pass the Language Proficiency Interview, and dance / sing (and in my case, give a speech in Luganda) at the Homestay Thank You. As of today, the first one is thankfully done.

Next week, we’ll be in Kampala getting everything finalized before we’re sworn in and shipped out to our sites on Thursday (the 10th). That’s all for now.

Love & Stuff from the other side of the world,
Ryan (a.k.a. Migadde)

P.S. One problem I’m running into is where to put all my pictures. I’m starting to think I probably should’ve brought my computer as a place of storage and also so I can write these blog entries without having to pay for the internet time. If I get lucky, maybe I’ll find a computer with a CD-burner nearby Kayonza or at least in Kampala and I can start putting pictures on those (and I say “lucky” because I haven’t seen one yet).