Far from any lesson, this title refers to the aptly named Danish pop band currently making the rounds in most bars and discoteks. It’s rhythms were in attendance, along with myself, at the recent “Miss East Africa Beauty Pageant”. There are some pretty nice perks about working for Peace Corps, the half off chocos, the occasional free smoothie, but one of the best is being an automatic VIP at beauty pageants. For hours I sat, front row, drinking free beer, and watching African models desperately trying to outdo one other by pandering to the baying crowd. This “hootenanny”, as my father would say, lasted until 3am. Such is the depth of my dedication to the 2nd goal of Peace Corps (To help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the peoples served).
It has been 2 months here at site, and I feel very settled. I feel ready to begin placing my fingers in many pies, and most of them aren’t even sinister. I know almost all the names of my staff… well, their Christian names at least. People greet me by name in the town. I get taken out on more man dates than if Nathan were here. And really to top it all off, a passing boda taxi I know yelled to me in greeting: “what’s up my nigga”.
That is to say, all my new friends aren’t the locals. I now make it a point that whenever I see white people I don’t know I go and introduce myself to them and extend the Soroti brand of hospitality; several free beers. This is how I came to meet a gang of vacationing germans and convinced them to try the local brew. Sometimes I just can’t stop enabling. First freshmen, now Europeans; whether I’m moving up or down in the world is a matter of opinion now.
I now know most all the watering holes in town as well, and a select few know me be sight too. At one particular establishment, I got to revive my old college habit of spending more than 6 hours on a Sunday in a bar watching awesome movies. For whatever reason (questioning God here is hazardous to your health, so I won’t) the Oasis bar decided to have a screening of all the Indiana Jones movies (the good ones) and I was privileged to watch every moment of it. I even got delivery like we used to a the Cap. Although, instead of a pizza delivery guy bringing 3 deep dish pizzas, I had an 8 year old kid bring me gilled fish and chips.
I was Rick rolled by a passing sound van today (those annoying things that move up and down streets blasting music in the hope waking up God in space). Many Africans were treated to the sight of a lone muzungu standing dumbstruck and open mouthed, then raising his fists to the heavens and bellowing KHANNNNNN!!!!!!!!!
Speaking of music, Africa never ceases to amaze. I only heard it briefly in the club, but it was most definitely a remix of “the bird is word”. To see a seething mass of humanity oscillate to the blend of sounds they made the song in to was a fascinating experience. And just when I had come to grips with this strange incident, another one occurred. A popular song here has a repeating line “you want another rum?” Well walking through an alley I heard a child sing the canto, and was immediately answered by another child “yes, ssebo”. They repeated their exchange 19 times.
Now, all these stories and anecdotes might make it appear I haven’t been doing any work. That is far from the case. One of my most proud achievements is that I have successfully taught the catering department how to make jelly donuts. Once classes resume in January, I call have a steady supply of homemade American goodness. They have also offered to make me any dish I can find in my recipe books, and all I have to do is bring them the ingredients.
I guess I’ve done other things as well. I found the design for a self sustaining pump to use in the agriculture side of the school and am having the plumbing teachers source and price the parts. I visited another volunteer and have made schematics for a brick press machine that the welding class can build. I’ve designed an incinerator for the school’s trash that can be built by the building class. I made a prototype camp chair from scraps that the carpentry unit can mass produce. And I even have the outline for my economic design class which I will teach come the spring. Having modeled it after Dr. O’s senior design class, I don’t know whether he would be flattered, or loose all faith in his students… again.
So all in all, work has been done, fun has been done, and now I’m off for Christmas, and an inevitably futile quest for eggnog.