Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Transported Teen Writes: Trying My Hand at Sugarcane


Marian is one of my first friends here. We both enjoy crafts, drawing and "shoetags" (their word for nail polish). As we talk, we have cultural exchanges. Sometimes I forget most people in rural areas have no connection outside of Uganda. In America the internet gives us a widow to other places, like the post you're reading right now. Watching Africa on YouTube is rather lacking. It doesn't give you the feel of Africa, the excitement of their worship, the racket of rain pounding a tin roof through the night or the chatter of exotic birds in the morning. The window only works one-way. Marian and I have created a bridge, I share something American and she teaches me about Uganda. I get to explain hamburgers and she shares Ugandan expressions. She was shocked that we live down the road from an enormous plantation but never eaten sugarcane. So she brought some over.

Like a fancy chef from Benihana, she skinned, chopped and sliced the bamboo stalk in a matter of seconds. Swoop, chop, ka-chunk, perfect. Then the pivotal moment of failure comes as she hands me the knife. Let's just say, my obviously superb knife skills are unrefined for African cuisine. Swoop, slice, oops, ow. The knife attacked my thumb. It's fine, a mere flesh wound, but it proves the fact that even though we've been here for almost a month, we are not yet experts.

Dora and I got invited to her house Tuesday. We met her mother, older sister, younger sister and baby brother. Her simple brick house had no windows so it was very dark. The living room was already very small, no bigger than an average bathroom, but it was also the kitchen sink storage and dining room. Apparently it's a thing here, when you have visitors to show them your family photo albums. After meeting the family, we discovered more cultural exchanges by watching the Avengers movie translated to Lugandan. Later language lessons with her mother included phrases like, Wasuze otya, good morning. We removed dried corn off the cob for grounding into posho powder. They were kind enough to feed us lunch. It was a very traditional Ugandan menu: potatoes, cabbage and posho. As much as we are indifferent about posho, theirs was much better then what we're used to on the base. We also snacked on popcorn, more sugarcane and blacked corn kernels which tasted like little salty rocks yet were surprisingly good. Then it was time for Dora and I to leave, next time I'll bring my camera. It was fun to hang out with my friend and her natural teaching spirit is what I need most, just don't ask me to cut the cane.

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