Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No longer a mzungu

A few weeks ago, a huge thing happened. I mean HUGE. A child, maybe 4 years old, called me by my name: Nangobi! Most of the adults in town have called me by name for several months now, but the children were slower to come around and continued to call me “mzungu.” This may seem like a small accomplishment, but when I heard that child screaming “NANGOBI BYE!” at me, I felt overjoyed. It really is the small things that count. This week, no fewer than 5 children have remembered my name. Now, in a country with a fertility rate of 6.7, there are still a lot of children calling me mzungu, but it’s definitely a start!

In other news, I’ve survived my first African election! In my town, things were quiet – and I mean eerily quiet. In the week leading up to the election, things had gotten progressively more chaotic in town: lots more people around, campaign speeches, large trucks sporting candidates faces and loud music. But when election day finally arrived, it seemed that most people took the “holiday” to heart and stayed home. Other towns weren’t so lucky: a fellow volunteer got caught in the crossfire of tear gas when a riot broke out in his town. Overall though, the elections were peaceful and to some extent anticlimactic. I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more action!

In completely unrelated news, I'm about 70% done reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Peace Corps mandated "stay at your site" policy during the elections left me with a lot of time on my hands. I'm also making my own mat. Ugandans make floor mats out of papyrus, so I decided to learn the process, start to finish. I went to the valley and collected papyrus with a machete, dried the leaves for three days, died them different colors (purple, pink, blue, green) with dye I bought in the market, dried them again, cut the pieces to size, and finally started weaving the mat. I still have (realistically) months of work ahead of me until the mat is finished (Ugandans complete a mat in about 2 weeks, but I'm a bit slower), but I'm excited for the project! My neighbors think it's hilarious when I take my materials outside with them to weave my mat. 

Fyi: the rains have not yet come, and I think I might die from too much dust inhalation. Just thought I'd let you know. 

ttfn - ta ta for now! :)