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Yeah, so, this one time I studied abroad….

24 Sep
Greetings again, my fellow world-learners!
I thought I’d give you the standard, “I’m studying abroad!  Look at everything that is unique and wonderful about this new place!” entry.  I’ve had several questions about the landscape, the food, the dudes, the dress, the housing, the dudes, the flora and fauna, the dudes…in short, every essential aspect of life abroad.
The simple fact is that Uganda is the most beautiful place in the world.  Straight-up majesty lingers atop every gentle hill, hangs from every greenest-tree-you’ve-ever-seen, and rests in every grain of that beautiful blood-red sand.  The cows are even quite impressive, with their triumphant horns and feral attitudes.  We travel for little excursions quite frequently, and I have never before been so stoked to spend countless hours upon hours in a van unfortunate enough to be birthed without shocks of any kind, crammed wall to wall with people who have showered as little as I.  The landscape is (though it sounds painfully cliché,) truly breathtaking.  I find myself more giddy than should be allowed in a van that cramped when we pass through towering palms, forests of banana trees, fields of tall grass, and red rolling hills as we venture (usually) north toward Sudan. In terms of beauty, however, it would border the criminal to neglect mention of the people.  The women walk as many American imagine African women walk – carrying immense freights of water, banana leaves, baskets of who-knows-what, food, fruit, fabric, whatever one might need in a day or a few days.  They walk with babies straddling them as backpacks, tied on with towels or strips of fabric.  They hold their children close to their bodies at all times, and it is more than a little wonderful to think of the implications of that kind of thinking.  It translates into every aspect of their lives – they take care of their family no matter what, and if there arises an obstacle, they will tackle it together.  The people here are not only beautiful in their countenance and in how they treat one another, but they are just plain pretty humans.  I have not seen one person wandering around Gulu or anywhere else who I would not describe as, well, stunning.  It’s funny to think about skin here, I guess.  I suppose I should clarify for everyone who may be reading this without knowing me so well:  I am decidedly as white as they come.  Ugandans are undeniably not so.  It should also be further explained that there’s not too many Muzungu here, especially the farther you get into small towns and villages.  Needless to say (so why say it? Alas, I am a walking contradiction.), I stand out.  Surprisingly, the first time I actually felt a little self-conscious about that happened almost three weeks in!  Last night a baby came to my house and pretty much just stared at me for a straight hour.  She had this mildly confused, majorly horrified expression for the duration, which was really amusing.  The rest of the 15+ people in the room with us laughed heartily at the thought that they were witnessing this poor child go through a terrifying shock.  They then forced her to shake my hand.  To their wildly hysterical laughter, this little girl shook my hand, backed away, and stared at her hand, then wiped it on her pants and started hyperventilating.  Out of curiosity she touched me again and rolled up her shirtsleeve.  She was afraid my whiteness was going to rub off on her.  Totally reasonable assumption, I would think, and equally terrifying.  This was the first time that I really took notice that I look like just about the weirdest thing to venture into these parts.  I looked around the room at these beautifully dark people and felt sort of cheated, actually.  My aunt said that I shouldn’t worry – even though I look like a mutant, she’s pretty sure my soul is African to the core.  How comforting.
To summarize the rest of the more sense-oriented and experiential aspects of the trip (which will hopefully answer some questions): 1. The food is pretty good.  By good I mean bland.  By bland I mean beans, rice, posho (maize goo), goat, and cabbage.  Yes.  Cabbage.  You’d think I could escape the ‘Kraut by coming to Africa.  You would be wrong. 2.  The dudes are aggressive.  By aggressive I mean friendly.  By friendly I mean I receive marriage proposals by strangers on a daily basis.  “Be my muzungu forever!  I need my very own muzungu! You will be my favorite wife!”  Mmm tempting, but no thanks.  Ask me tomorrow when you’ve built up your wife cabinet.  I need to know the rest of the posse before I sign away my man-choosing capabilities.  3. In regards to housing, I live above the bank my father manages.  I have my own room which is large enough to fit all 9 people staying at my house tonight so we can safari tomorrow.  This brings me to the flora and fauna – I’ll be going on a mini safari tomorrow with the rest of the people in my program.  We’ll be rafting down the Nile River (yes! The real Nile! I know!) for a few hours, then driving through the game park to see some lions!  More realistically, elephants and maybe some giraffes are on the docket, though the wildlife of Uganda consist of wild dogs and cats and these huge trash-eating vultures.  At any rate, wish me luck on my Livingston-style adventure!  Peace to you all until we speak again!
 
 

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  1. Lachlan Muir

    September 25, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Just because they propose from Uganda, they still need to fill out an “Application to Date my Daughter” form!

     
  2. Carol

    October 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I was entranced to hear that you got to be ON THE NILE. THE Nile. Wow, gives me chill bumps. That is so exotic and romantic. Cleopatra on her barge passed here. Whojybob the Great, who ruled the Roman Empire, sailed there and drowned his ~um, male friend in the Nile in a fit of temper. Maybe it’s not all romantic. But the idea of seeing what the Pharoahs saw is just awe inspiring. Even if it’s just a small part of the river. So ancient. The archeologist in me is envious.

    I got a real kick out of your experience being propositioned/proposed to on a daily basis. They’d get arrested in American! It’s so good natured in intent that it would sound like it’s hard to resent the attentions. Have fun.