Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Dearest Family, Friends and Michelle,

Don't let the date of the post fool you. I uploaded these photos two weeks ago while in Fort Portal visiting friends (the internet is USA-fast).

I think a few of you have received general descriptions of the area in which I live, Kyenjojo. I may have even told you a bit about my house itself. Certainly, I have mentioned the screaming, spoiled rotten beasts that my neighbor calls "children." HA! Children. More like. Poo/Pee covered Minions sent by the dark lord himself to wreck havoc upon myself. Apparently, I really screwed someone important over in a previous life.

Before the pictures, let me say, things are going quite well. Since my last post about my slacker kids, I've changed a few things in the classroom. (1.) Late arrivals are required to spend 3 minutes for every minute they arrive late to class. (2.) Ready? Set! DAILY QUIZZES! Since putting these two policies into action, smirking late arrivals to my class have dropped to, get this, ZERO!! And as for the quizzes, they are keeping the kids on their toes. The girl I spoke of in my last class is making marked improvements, and I feel like I have really cemented some key concepts that are fundamental to the progression of the class into more advanced material. So I am feeling good. Still, I feel a bit lost as to how fast I should proceed. I guess I'll let the quizzes dictate... when the average on the new stuff is, what do you think, 40? 50? 60? I can more forward.

Let me say, I'm seeing quizzes from a COMPLETELY new angle. As a student, I despised them! They were nothing but life-drains that threw me into crazed, forget-the-world study sessions with my trusted group member "type-A OCD" looking over my shoulder. Now, however, I see them as incredible tools to see the inner-workings of my students minds, and they allow me to address flaws that I literally, even with great effort could not make up.

What else has been going on around me and in my head? A few bullet points:

*More and more people know my Empaako (Amooti), and greet me in Rutooro instead of the high-pitched and nazely "Mujungu Voice" (Think: BOSTON with a speech impediment) as I walk through town. I take this as a great personal success, one that I take great pride in. It feels like my community has more than recognized my desire to find my place in their ranks; they have accepted me.

*A man that I work with has really revealed himself as a slime-ball. Last weekend, he approached me and says, "I am very strapped for cash. I was wondering if you would let me tell the administration that we are going on a trip for school? We don't actually have to go. I just need them to give money." I looked at him with a borderline incredulous look: REALLY?!?!?! and said, "Well, and please, I don't want to offend you or make you angry, but... to me that sounds a lot like stealing... and I'd rather avoid that if you don't mind." He didn't mind in the least, and we shook hands and parted. And now, I have to go to the administration and assure them that I will always ask for permission for teachers to accompany me on any trip just to be sure no one is trying that exploit.

*A few of my PCV friends were kicking an email back and fourth about who was eating more banana's/pineapples's, etc... per day. I didn't contribute. But I when mentioned my main protein staple last weekend, jaws dropped. Is 6 eggs a day really that ridiculous?

*OH! I played in a staff versus students soccer game last weekend! What a blast! The staff have some purple and gold uniforms, and I was tossed one a few minutes before the game... I was late, and I had to sprint home to get shoes and change. When I returned, suited up, 1200 kids were packed around the soccer pitch, and at my arrival cheers broke out among everyone I ran by. I stuck out my tongue, Jordan style, and threw a goofy face their way that amplified things. As I made my way around the field, I was greeted with louder cheers and high fives from my fellow teachers. I do believe I was beaming. The game, well, it was a shit-show that ended in a tie. I stubbed a toe and now lack a toenail, but for those few minutes before and after the game: a nail was a small price to pay.

*When I was in a market in Kampala a few weeks back, a man kept badgering me to give him money. He kept poking at my pocket where the outline of my wallet was apparently enticing him into being a jackass. He finally stopped, and a few minutes later I was explaining how rude it was to the woman sitting near by when I said, how would you feel if I walked up to you and said, "Mpa siringi bitaano (give to me 500 shillings)!!" To this she did not reply. She just reached into her pocket, pulled out a 500 piece and put it into my outstretched hand.

I can't really think of any more right now. I'm a bit tired and hazy. So, with this, I leave you with some pictures!

My town from a nearby hill top. I realized that aside from my trips to the market on Mondays, the occasional viewing of a world cup match at the hotel or randomly passing through on the way back from a village walk, I avoid the main town area. I had originally been pretty upset about the UN-rural'ness of my placement. Then I found out that, well, if you cock your head and look at it just right, it does sorta resemble the middle of nowhere! So, with effort, I'm recognizing the best of both worlds.

I edited this picture and threw a nice red circle around my compound (dead center in the picture). This is probably so against security policy... then again, if if you walked up to just about anyone in town and asked where I lived, they could probably give you directions to my doorstep.

The front of the apartments that I live in. I am the farthest doorway to the left. The girl standing in the middle is, dare I say it, yes, an imbecile. One of her favorite activities is to take a jerry can, put it under the rain-water tank, turn on the tap and walk away for half an hour. When she returns, she giggles as she realizes her error. And 60 or so liters of wasted water is sucked up thirstily by earth and sky.

The rain tank. The women on the property can burn through 3000 liters in about 2 weeks even when there is no rain and they should be cutting down on the usage. Complete disregard for conservation. I probably use between 60 and 80 liters a week total for drink, food prep and bathing.


My storage closet. I put dirty dishes in here, and I store boxes and lumber for my various projects around the house. Ngonza kubaija! (I like to do carpentry)

My kitchen. I brought a backpacking stove to Uganda. I didn't have a CLUE that I would be cooking on a fully controllable gas range. Very nice.

My tool corner. I've been picking up pieces here and there. I bought a drill bit this Saturday, the final piece needed to finish my counter project. I've grown tired of cutting veggies on the floor, so I rigged up a counter space that serves as a dish/vegetable washing area. The tools paid for themselves in the money I saved by not hiring a carpenter.

Drying lines for then it rains. I'm too cheap to buy a couch, so - HAMMOCK!

The right side of my room. That's right. I have a killer laser printer in Uganda. It saved me several hours a week and lets me print out notes, example problems and lesson plans. It is probably the best investment I have made here yet. Judge away!

My disgusting bathroom. There is no excuse for this. I cleaned last weekend, so it is looking a lot better.

My pop-up closet and book-covered desk.

The bed protected from flying malaria darts.

Looking out of my room towards the kitchen/living room.

A bit-o-love from the states. I've received two cards since being here: A post card from kelly and a birthday card from my grandpa, but I hear I have a package and a few letters waiting for me at the PC headquarters! You can send me letters/packages to Devon Murphy, PO Box 262, Fort Portal, Uganda. Wrap everything in pictures of Jesus, and it might get through.

The screaming hallway. Kids, maids, parents. They scream here whenever they can... just to let me know that I am not alone in this world.

The backside of my apartment... and hey! There he is... the Devil himself, just seconds before bursting out into outrageous, ear drum shattering shrieks.

The daily wash. A small church was recently put up behind the tree in the background. In a recent fund-raising attempt, I was kept awake for 4 nights by blaring music that was played from dusk until dawn, 3 songs on repeat... Uganda is a noisy place.

You can see the rectangle of my garden. I dug it all out, but the rainy season was over, so I let it mulch a bit and grow over. I'll turn it and plant in time for the next season that comes through.

The hill from which I took the pictures of my house and town shown earlier.


A "Devon" figurine a fellow PCV carved and gave me on my 27th birthday.

A goat. I have a strange fascination with goats. I really enjoy their faces.

A boy tending to his flock.


Fly - free bird.


Before I close, I'll let you with short dialogue I had with a lady on the street. Full grown lady. Not girl. Most of you have probably already seen this on Facebook, but I wanted to include it for anyone that may have missed it. Another priceless moment.

Lady on the street: "Are you Jesus' brother?"

Me: "No."

Lady: "Are you sure? Because you look like him."

Me: "Yes. I am sure."

Lady: "Because Jesus was a teacher. And I hear you are a teacher."

Me: "Yes. I am a teacher. But I am not related to Jesus."

Lady: " Well, I don't know how you can be so sure."

Me: "Just ask my friends. They'll tell you the truth."

I hope you enjoyed the stories, thoughts and pictures. Take care, and I will post again soon.

I love you all. (But especially you Michelle!)


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