Monday, June 13, 2011

A month in the life...

Ah, another blog post, another month.

Having been here for ten months, a thought occurred to me; I have not held a weapon in 10 months. This is the longest amount of time that has happened since I first went to the shooting range as a kid. Unfortunately, PC has a strict "no guns" policy. So I've been forced to the next best option: spears. In fact, as I write this, my welding students and their teacher are diligently hammering away at their makeshift forge to produce 3 African spears for me. Soon my dream of playing full size darts will be a reality.

In the past 2 weeks we have had Martyrs Day, and Hero's day. The first celebrates when a group of the faithful were executed by the king of Buganda some few hundred years ago. The second... well, I still don't know. I asked 8 different people and still couldn't get a real answer. The by-product of these holidays is that the school puts on a party for each. These parties really amount to the same thing: sodas, meat, beer, local brew, and dancing. One of the curious things I noticed is that when we have our normal, every days meals at school, we use forks. But when we have the parties with the special lunch which includes meat, you are obligated to use your hands. I personally can't do it, and simply carry a fork with me wherever I go now. The second Kill Bill movie has ingrained in me a belief that if I eat rice with my hands, a Chinese Kung Fu master is going to come in to the room and bash my hands.

That last bit actually led to a conversation among my staff where I cemented my reputation as an unassailable muzungu. I told them I know the five point palm exploding heart technique. A little lie (or is it?) is good for security; I'm sure Fred (our Ugandan safety and security coordinator) would agree.

On another note, many volunteers talk about how many people say hi to them when they walk through the village. Indeed, the time required to walk a certain distance is not dependent on the distance, but on how many people are out in their yards on the given path. I thought I could avoid all those repetitive conversations and pleasantries because I live so close to the city. And then came yesterday. In the course of walking through town to go read at a bar I like, I was greeted and drawn in to conversation by no less than 10 people. It took me 2 hours to walk 4 blocks. I guess I'm well known in my field.

Now that we are in to the second term of the year (and my second term as a teacher), I am remembering why I never selected "teacher" as a possible future profession.

Case and point:

I gave my students the assignment of "write a letter of application asking for employment in your field". Results: Of my 35 students, 13 did the assignment. 12 were girls. 3 misspelled my name "Mr Marsh Macheal". I then think, "I am supposed to be teaching these kids the art of making money". When these two incompatible thoughts (goal vs results) meander in to the came brain cell, it makes my head hurt, and I briefly consider the merits cubicle work.

However, on the other side there's this:

The next assignment was "make a list of 10 small details that make a business successful". Results: Of my 35 students, 12 did the assignment. 10 were girls. 2 included in their lists "making puns with the customers".

Maybe this is that warm fuzzy feeling teachers tell me is their reason for doing their job.

I took a tally of all the books I've finished the other day. In total: 45*.

*39 of which are science fiction.

Curious observation: military MRE's contain an inordinate amount of processed cheese spread. This has been an incredible boon to my grilled cheese manufacturing.

I have finally found an upper limit on the ridiculous activities I perpetrate around my site. My idea was to put a variation of a Forex Bureau in the Catholic church in town. The purpose of which would be to exchange the large bills people get from the ATMs in to the small bills which are useful for the common Ugandan. They could then give a nice tithe to the church, have a sizable quantity of small change, and the change would be the new, crisp and clean currency the banks like to see in circulation. From every transaction, a small percentage (3%) would be the fee, which would go to the church, generating income. My supervisor, however, is of the opinion that we shouldn't be changing money in the temple.

It is at this time I must confess to a most sordid affair with a married lady; Mrs Dash. It is only with her flavorful ministrations that I am capable of eating posho (plain cornmeal) and beans 4 times a week.

Speaking of sordid affairs... Last weekend I went for a hike on one of Teso's rock formations in town. It was very invigorating to be able to see for more than a half a kilometer in any direction, seeing as Teso is preternaturally flat. One thing from Abq I realize now that I have always taken for granted, was that because the city is on a slope, there is always a grand vista to be had. Not so here. While the countryside is nice, you can really are not afforded sweeping landscapes to gaze upon. Which leads me to what I gazed upon the rock. There, in an alcove of granite, was a young Ugandan couple in flagrante delicto. Not a care in the world. I even asked others I saw hiking if they knew and they said yes, "those ones come here all the time". I L0Led pretty good.

And look at that, my spears are finished! Time for an afternoon session of good ol' fashioned spear chucking.

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