Friends, Family and Michelle,
How the hell are ya? I hope everyone is doing well.
Me, I am great! It is official: I am Peace Corps Volunteer. PCV. I’m in the club! Unfortunately, the only REAL difference between the minute before “swearing in” and the minute after is my name on a piece of paper (that’s the “official” part) and the letters, “V” and “T”. My “cool” or “awesome”-factor remains the same… in fact, I have already been told that I am most definitely still NOT cool. Bummer.
Maybe in a year?
I am at my site, in the Kyenjojo District of Uganda, and I am settling in well. My bedroom portion of my two room house is completely livable with a desk, a chair, a pop-up closet and my bed. The living room/kitchen… well, that is another story. I have a stove, but without the gas tank… well… let’s just say I’ve been living off of Blue Band (Ugandan Margarine), Honey, Peanut Butter and dry bread. Today I went extra extravagant and added a banana to the mix.
I’ve grown tired of being hungry, and I intend to purchase the final piece to complete my empty-stomach puzzle this weekend.
I just purchased internet last weekend, so I intend to start posting a bit more often. I fully intend to describe my site and my daily life here once I get some semblance of one. For now, please accept a story from the final days of my being a PCT (for you minors, bosses and easily-offended’s, the following contains fowl language… in fact, the entire story is fowl. Truly disgusting. Ask your parents to continue, please don’t fire me, and “the truth isn’t always pretty”, to each of those groups respectively):
Heh, eh, ehhm…
It was the day before swearing in, and there was excitement in the air. As PCTs, we had been through 10 weeks minus one day of training, and we were chomping at the bit to trade our “T” in for a “V” and head into the field. As a parting gift, we had been thrown into one more gauntlet: The counterpart workshop (Insert: suspenseful-“duh, DUH, DUHHHHHH!!!”-sound bite here).
The workshop was a great idea… in theory. The new class of trainees meets their counterparts and managers who they will spend the next two years with at a nice hotel outside Kampala to discuss what?
(1.) Expectations: Peace Corps’, the PCT’s of the Host Organization and vice versa.
(2.) Peace Corps policy.
What it turned into was ten weeks of PC lectures condensed into two days. The part where we got into the expectations analysis was lost in hazy gazes and glazed over minds of exhausted, numbed trainees trudging through to the end.
I shudder to think of it… where was I?...ah yes, the interesting part of the workshop took place not during the day:
On day before swear in, I headed into Kampala with a few friends to get away from the hotel and buy a few supplies. I had to order eye glasses, they had to buy… nail polish… hell, I don’t know. After ordering my glasses, I headed to the supermarket where I bought a sandwich and chatted it up with the lady behind the counter… later I ate my sandwich, and shortly after we all departed.
That sandwich… irrelevant, right? Completely.
That night, we all went out for drinks to celebrate our final full day as volunteers. We watched some football (soccer), played a drinking game, ate a twix and enjoyed castle milk stouts (best, cheapest alternative to Guinness Foreign Stout). Walking home around 11, I realized I was, let’s just say “feeling it,” but felt that a nice sauna would do me well. I grabbed two towels from behind the counter and headed in.
And there I roasted. If the sauna was two strong hands, Ugandan washer-woman hands, and I was a wet towel, I was wrung out DRY by the end of that session. And so after a cold shower, I went to bed.
It is around 3 in the morning and I can stand it no longer. I have been holding in gas for HOURS, afraid beyond fear that I am going to shit myself.
I don’t know what inner voice was shouting at me that “DEVON YOU HAVE FELT THIS BEFORE… DON’T DO IT!!” But it was shouting, screaming, pleading… and I listened. Finally, I wrapped a towel around my waste, hustled to the bathroom and jumped on the pot…
Explosions erupted beneath me. For a moment, I was Apollo 13. And then my boosters dropped out of my stomach, and I felt the unrelenting urge to vomit.
And vomit I did…
I was able to get one wipe in before I threw up into my mouth, just a tiny bit. I jumped up, spit it into the shit-filled toilet. Sat down. Wretched again. This time, I knew it would be big. Fuck.
What-to-do. Devon, what-to-do. DAMNITALLTHINKQUICKLY! And there I saw it… the hole between my legs. Just aim for the hole.
And like magic, my nausea was gone… but my crotch, my thighs/legs and a semi-circle three feet in diameter around me were absolutely covered in puke.
“Just AIM for the HOLE Devon. Just AIM for the HOLE!” I mocked myself.
I kept my calm. Cleaned as best I could with toilet paper. Hit the shower next to me. Washed… twice. Got out, dried off, and used the towel to clean up all that I could see (Matusek never mentioned the ridiculous odor in that room so he either suffers from anosmia or is one nice man). Then, as I had only had a towel on going to the bathroom, I covered my genitala with the puke towel and did a tip-toe-sprint to my room.
Later, discussing this event with friends, we created a verb for what I had experienced:
Pooking. (Though Mr. Ficke has since informed me that it has already been termed, “going #3”)
Moral of the story? Counter-part workshops cause food poisoning.
That’s all from me. My site is growing on me, and soon I have no doubt I will love it. My administration at my school is great, and I’ve been greeted by my community with open arms (Smiling faces and calls of “How are you, Amooti?!” ring out as I walk through town).
I continue to explore my surroundings, learning the people and resources in addition to the open, elevated spots from which to perch, reflect, center, soak in the sun and listen to birdsong… and escape the 10 screaming children that are raising hell outside my windows 16 hours a day.
Life is good. And for the moment, life in Uganda is better.
I love you all (especially you, Michelle!).
Thanks for reading.