Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making Uganda Home


There is a “learning curve” with every new environment you find yourself in. If it is an environment that came about because of a series of unfortunate events then you adapt and try to get yourself out of it. These sometimes look like plane crashes on deserted islands or running out of fuel and funds in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But if the new environment is one of your choosing then no matter what the challenge you either change it or allow it to change you.

Living in the bush in Uganda two examples come immediately to mind, the food and the showers. One, we can change, the other -may end up changing us. With both I need to be sensitive in how I communicate my frustrations because the last thing you want to do is walk into another person's home and tell them how bad it is. This doesn't come up much in America because we have so much and even if you do complain we think you're crazy. Except internet speed, never ask a Korean how fast their internet is, it'll make you weep.

Let's start with the food. It is not mystery meat. Some international foods are indescribable and unrecognizable, Ugandan food is obvious or it has close enough relationship to something I've eaten that gives it a reference point. This is related to that so it should taste like this. Which sometimes it does and sometimes not so much. Posho, described to me as a cornmeal mush. Cornmeal is versital! Polenta, grits, and muffins are all cornmeal based, no big deal. There is no real resemblance between any of those things and posho. I have yet to investigate the preparation of posho but the final outcome creates a texture and consistency like that of the foam magic sponges that are excellent cleaning tools. That may sound disparaging and that is not my intention, and besides those sponges are quite expensive and shouldn't be wasted for eating.

Posho may be a base though with which other things may be added. Polenta is quite bland until you add salt and garlic and bacon fat. As an ingredient rather than a final dish perhaps it will bend to our desires.

My other learning curve is the cold shower. Our dwelling has a shower but no tank on the roof making the experience not only invigorating but also very uncomfortable. Plumbing is not so easy a remedy as adding salt to something and therefore it is my will that must be flexible. Remember I chose this environment. Taking showers in the afternoon not only cleanses me after working in the field the ambient temperature also allows faster drying time than in the chill of first light. I could embrace a more European philosophy and just not shower as often. Regardless changing it will not be as easy.

But will my wife and children feel the same way?

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