Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A few small updates on culture and everyday life--from John

From John:

I am learning a little Luganda which is the local tribal language in the region in and near Kampala.   Almost everyone knows English but learning their language is helpful for relating.   Janel is taking off with it which is no surprise.   I am a lot slower but still picking up a couple words each week.   Which I have figured out that just greeting them in their language is enough to make them laugh and smile and engage in conversation with you even if you have to revert right back to English.  

I will actually be taking some Luganda lessons in a couple weeks especially since one of my roles will be so closely tied to working in a pastoral setting with the guys on the worksite who mostly speak Luganda as their native tongue.

I am still not liking driving at night especially when all the kids are in the car.   Soooo much to see when there is so little light to see by.   By the way, there is a poor picture of our minivan taken at night that I have attached – we can’t seem to get away from minivans.

You know you want one, too.
Had a near miss last Thursday night after I'd been driving not yet a week.   A motorcycle was driving down the center line coming toward us when he made a wrong estimation on the space between two cars and caught one with his handle bar forcing his bike into the oncoming vehicle fender and then to the ground sliding toward us.   Fortunately I stopped just before he came to a stop in front of my screeching tire.  I heard a small thud when he hit my fender but never lost site of him.   He popped up clasping his worn hands but otherwise uninjured.   The crowd around yelling at him presumably chastising him as representative of all the crazy boda boda (motorcycle) drivers, seemed to motivate him to jump back on the bike and speed off.    My wife nearly in tears… a traumatic day.   His life saved… a great day! 

Despite the driving, I generally am loving the feeling of adventure of trying to figure everything out and navigate the new landscape.   Even the seemingly backwards way things get done in some instances isn’t bothering me too much… yet.   It is the lack of some creature comforts and the difficulty to really escape as of yet that seems to be building up.   But we are finding some creature comforts that are consoling – some of mine for better or worse:

·         We have found a Mexican restaurant nearby.   We had a romantic date there completed by riding separately on two different bodas to get home (right before we had our car).   The food actually tastes pretty good and fills the craving.   It has a cactus painted on the wall and sumbraros hanging as well.   My favorite part besides the food is that it has a glossary of terms on the back of the menu. Ie. Tortilla – somehow like a chipotte but fried in oil.   Sour Kream – somehow like yogurt but with lime juice. Burrito… Enchilada… etc.  And the check even said Gracias!  

·         I have found a local movie theater, not much selection but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

·         You can get a bottle of coke here (nostalgic glass bottles even) for about 1000 schillings (45 cents) on nearly every street corner.   And the coke is made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Course you have to drink the bottle there because they want it back.  The bottles are small enough to drink in 3 or so swigs if you’re not rationing and once finished you can just walk a couple hundred yards until thirst strikes again and there’s another roadside stand with more coke.   Honest admission, I have done this once. J

·         And every third night the power goes out for the evening which kind of forces you to catch up on sleep.

·         There is a pick-up basketball game every Tuesday night at a neighborhood school.  I am pretty inconsistent – some nights I am pretty bad, other nights I am horrible.   And what passed for really hustling just a few months ago doesn’t seem to be much of a contribution here.   But it’s fun exercise.   (I am still looking for the pickup game of soccer so I can really be put to shame at the one sport that had brought me athletic confidence over my sporting career.   Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t heard about that group yet.)
Anyway…That was more than you probably wanted to skim and maybe just the right amount to skip!


mhutsell said...

Loved hearing from you John! Your perspective is wonderful!

Ross and Taya said...

Hey buddy, loved hearing your stories & humbling experiences. Praying for you. -ross

Andrea Shrewsbury said...

I absolutely love the Breit Spot! You two are awesome! I could sit and read all night but I am watching the clock because I have to meet Bruce. I fear I may be late bc I'm getting lost in Africa! So excited for you and Janel, keep blogging, I'll keep reading and praying. So happy to know you.