Thursday, January 27, 2011

A bit of a predicament

I can drive. Yet I cannot take a shower. Or wash my hands. Or flush my toilets. Or clean my dirty feet. City water has been out and my tank has been dry for three days now. I have been told the water "is coming" multiple times, but am yet to see anything that resembles liquid from my faucets. Baby wipes are my new best friends.

Things I do not love about this country.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What it takes to buy a car

Just a few things I have come to appreciate about American car shopping vs. Ugandan car shopping:

Car owners must disclose basic things (like doors or windows that don’t open). Or holes in windows, worn down tires, spewing exhaust pipes, jammed locks, missing gas caps…

Car lots tend to keep their cars clean and filled with sufficient gas for test drives. Or at least to turn them on to check that the engine starts! (No kidding, there was a car I was interested in that they would not put petrol in so I could check that the engine worked before buying it. I was told they would retrieve gas “after I agree to buy it.”)

Paperwork is clear (or more-so) and traceable. A dealer checks to make sure proper transfer forms exist. And they certainly don’t bring you a completely different car at work without asking (that is “better” of course, with proper documentation) rather than drive across town to get the original papers.

Car vendors have working telephone numbers that do not change every day. Now is that too much to ask for?

You are not usually forced to cough up thousands of dollars of cash on the spot.

When you finally buy a car and it is delivered, car dealers always ensure you have enough gas to get to a petrol station before refilling!!! Nothing like filling my new car tank through a funnel made from a water bottle in order to take my first drive as its owner.
Alas, even with all these hurdles, I successfully bought a car this weekend. My new 1995 RAV4 was delivered to me on Tuesday. Today I took my first solo drive into town and successfully navigated through the traffic, potholes, pedestrians, goats, bodas, cows, etc. Driving here is going to be a new challenge, that’s for sure. However, I am stoked for the new freedom I am sure this car will afford. And I am slowly adjusting to driving on the left hand side of the road from the right side of the car.

That’s right, people, I am now an official Ugandan driver.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I have frequently considered the mysterious disappearance of my blog muse since my arrival in Uganda nearly six months ago. I transitioned from chronic blogging in Korea to sporadic forced posts. Life in Kampala is far from mundane and I have long since passed the “I have no power for my computer” excuse. Though, ironically, the power is really out yet again as I write this. Luckily, an inverter purrs contentedly in my kitchen and inside my closet rests the extra insurance of a spare battery pack (that miraculously made it un-stolen in a labeled box from the States).

This week I joined the first writing group I have been in since my time in university classes. As I shared a work-in-progress, the inevitable questions of audience and purpose were asked. And that is when it hit me--- I have been carefully editing my blog for the sake of my audience. My muse has been paralyzed by a fear that there are many things in my new life that might rattle people I love: the baby snake I helped my friend carry out of her compound, the class five rapids that chucked me into the Nile, the financial canyon my school is trying to scale out of, the puppy castration that took place on my front porch. I have been so scared to taint the already tedious perception many of my loved ones have about my chosen home that I have been hesitant to share life. The good and the bad.

I am coming to the realization that the vast majority of the people who read this blog are about as likely to visit me in Uganda, as I am to sit still for a week straight. This might be the only account they ever get of my daily triumphs, observations, and surprises. I think it’s time to let my reluctance go a bit and release my stories from hibernation.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflections on 2010

Ten goals for 2011:
1. keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone
2. cook more often (and better)
3. serve others regularly and inspire kids to care about the world
4. continue to develop my faith and trust God’s plan for my life
5. find more balance between all the things that pull at my time
6. see a new place (or two… or three…or four…)
7. date more—I gotta get out of my married friend bubble and put myself out there from time to time
8. learn to drive in Uganda
9. write, design, and create more often
10. make time for family and friends

Ten things I never imagined I would have done in 2010 but did do:
1. taught with amazing people from all over the world: the UK, Colombia, Italy, Holland, Kenya, Germany, etc.
2. took a Ugandan dance class and then danced in public
3. coached multiple championship soccer teams (it does not really matter who won the games… both teams made it to finals!)
4. saw a leopard in a tree! Leopards, giraffe, hippos, crocodiles... more reasons I am excited to live in Africa!
5. was a chaperone on an international service trip with my mom ☺ Pretty neat to serve alongside both students and my momma in the Philippines!
6. hired a night guard with a giant gun to protect my three bedroom house--- what!?!
7. taught 7th grade—while I am doubtful that I would intentionally do it again, it has been a good learning experience. I do appreciate the hugs, notes, and plants ripped out of the garden complete with roots that come along with my eager to please 7th graders.
8. acquired a puppy and a kitten. I never really pegged myself as a cat person too, but I have loved having both little guys!
9. held my puppy’s legs down while he got castrated on my front porch… vet services are a little different in Uganda! If only I got to drop him off at the vet’s office and return when they were done like I would have in the states!
10. walked beside a family of rhinos

Ten things I did in 2010 I am proud of:
1. got hired. In today’s economy, that’s no small deal.
2. consistently went to a home church in Korea and have joined a Bible study in Uganda
3. made decisions I knew people wouldn’t all agree with about what to do job-wise this year. I am proud of myself for doing something I felt was right even though I knew other options would be much easier.
4. moved to a country where I knew no one, and a developing country at that. This move, more than any other, has really stretched me!
5. maintained mentor relationships with some of my students from Korea even when I moved a continent away
6. spent quality time with family and friends
7. learned to cook more (thanks to the Lubowan social crew for the expert modeling)
8. dealt with power outages, a lack of hot water, mosquitoes, holes in ceilings, etc.
9. managed to teach 4 grade levels at the same time (grades 7, 9, 11, and 12)
10. got actively involved in a variety of service opportunities in Korea, in the US, and in Uganda.