Friday, September 24, 2010

Things I urgently feel you should know:

·         One of the cooks here has a young daughter. Her name is Kevin. I don't know why that is; it just is. Sometimes you have to accept that.
·         Two weeks ago we were in a 2.5 hour meeting with the engineer in charge of our new building to renegotiate a labor expense (long story short, the original bill of quantities is for his crew to do all the interior prepping and painting of the ceilings and walls, they are now only prepping, thus a new, lower price needed to be reached). This meeting began at 8:45. At night. But we negotiated a new price. We even wrote it up a memorandum for his home office informing it of the method by which we agreed on the number.
·         Today the engineer informed us that as they have done the work, the new price was too low.
·         I will not renegotiate the price.
·         This is not because I am a hard ass but because I haven't had a meeting with the engineer that has been shorter than 2 hours (the aforementioned meeting was meant to last 15 minutes), and I don't think I can summon enough determination to do another meeting so soon.
·         There is a cow chewing on her upraised hind leg outside my door as I'm writing this.
·         There is often a cow outside my door.
·         As an American in Africa, I think I'm contractually obligated to make a mention of something called a jacaranda tree (or maybe a bush?), but I have no idea what this tree (bush) is. Obviously.
·         Sarah has begun cooking. Three of the last four nights she has prepared food for our administrative staff.
·         Dishes Sarah has prepared: Indian eggplant, curried okra, spaghetti with tomato sauce.
·         Sarah is cooking using a wood fire. The food doesn't reflect that massive limitation at all. In fact, I'll probably regain the 5 kg I've lost since we've been here sooner than later.
·         While I was working in our house and Sarah was on our back porch chopping vegetables with two of our girls, 12-year-old Lily Jane and 13-year-old Muja Joyce, I overheard the following exchange- Muja: My mother used to make this... She was so happy. Now she died. Lily: My father died. I cried and cried. There was a short pause, then Lily began laughing, Muja joined and they went on with chopping.
·         More than anything, exchanges like that are why I'm so happy Sarah is cooking. The girls love to cook with her, and they haven't had someone here to act as their mother since, well, ever.
·         I took Lily to the hospital the other day for a case of stomach cramps.
·         We were at the hospital for four hours, I kid you not.
·         While we were sitting in the open air waiting room, under the tin roof, with the paint peeling off the walls, the hospital employees brought out a TV and put on a DVD.  It was completely surreal.
·         Uploading photos takes forever here, so I can't show you the million cute, wonderful, or brilliant things that the kids are constantly doing.
·         Not numbered among those million things are the kids who became so excited about moving into their new home that they stayed home from school today to help us paint.
·         They made this decision without our information or consent.
·         We did not let them paint.
·         Also, we couldn't send them late to school because students who arrive late to their school are sent home.
·         That policy doesn't make sense to me either.
·         Numbered among the million things is the handful of 6-8 year old girls who crowded around an old mattress that they had laid out on the ground, and when the mosque next door to us began the call to prayer repeatedly knelt down, pressing their faces to the ground, calling out "Allahu Akbar," and giggling like banshees.
·         I'm not sure our neighbors like us.
·         Except Sylve, who is constantly stopping by and is constantly drunk. She likes to steal our sugar when we're not looking. She also like to throw rocks not at but in the general direction of our children. She also likes to threaten to beat them. And to randomly break into screeching, wailing sobs. And to stand in rooms where our children are trying to study and yell very random things such as, "Organization Airport!"
·         There's a long story behind why she yells things like that, but it'll have to wait.
·         We've tried to be patient with her, but we're getting to a point where we just can't have her around. We've set boundaries with her (like, "don't come here when you've been drinking"), and she's ignored them. She's becoming increasingly agitated and stubborn lately. We've had long discussions about what to do and settled on ignoring her.
·         If you have ideas for how to convince 60 kids to ignore the drunk lady who is standing in front of them saying, "Organization Airport" and cursing their (deceased) mothers, we are open to hearing them. 


  1. Your kids missing school is like the 5th grader we have at school who missed the bus on purpose on the afternoon of Parents' Night. Why did she do this? To make sure that her parents would go to Parents' Night because they would have to come to school to pick her up! At least she's committed :)

  2. Awe, yes. The drunk lady that pulled me up off the porch and hugged me while she began to cry. This was my first encounter with her and I did not even know her name. No one had time to save me either. I generally got up and walked away if I saw her coming after that. We would all take the hands of any kids around us to take them with us. I have nothing else for you at this time, but will let you know if I come up with some way to ignore a drunk lady that, yes, does yell odd things.

  3. Love hearing all the random things I needed to know:) As for jacarandas, they are trees that have lovely bluish/purple blossoms. I hope sometime you'll see one! You might try Kampala but I don't remember what time of year they bloom, perhaps April or is it August?

    I'm sorry I have no wisdom to offer concerning Sylve. It often amazed me how Africans tolerate the drunk and mentally ill in their midst. I remember how gently they dealt with people who were distracting in the middle of a church service or other events. They would sometimes ignore them or just send someone to lead them away out of the center of attention. I'll be praying for you for wisdom and for Sylve. Lord have mercy.