Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home Aone

So Sister Daisy, Edith, and Katusabe have left for Ghana for the week so now it’s just Anne, Cissy (a discerning sister,) and me here for the week. Things are a lot quieter around here, and of course the electricity is out again this weekend and it’s raining, which means I have no choice but to clean my room, wash my clothes, and take a much needed nap. It will be weird without everyone around- I’m ready for the rest of our family to get back home!

Market Day

Yesterday we went to Fort Portal to do some grocery shopping for the week. We stopped at the market to get vegetables- mango, oranges, bananas, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, squash, lemons, apples, millet flour, and oh yes how could I forget- live grasshoppers. You know the ones you see outside with huge wings and long whiskers flying around, well here they are a delicacy that only come once a year. We picked some up on the way home, and they were fried and eaten for supper. Anne had pretty much force fed me a small spoonful of them a couple of weeks ago, and I think that is enough for me for the year. I still can’t get over the fact that you eat the whiskers, and the thing has eyes too. Eeck!!!

Kampala Marathon Registration

So Anne and I are all registered for the Kampala Marathon next Sunday, November 24th…I think! Registration was not an easy process- you could either go to Kampala, a 5+ hour drive away to register in person or do mobile money over the phone through MTN. Our problem- we don’t have mobile money on our phone. So after stopping at 4 MTN mobile money locations- one had no network, one place had never heard of the marathon although their company is the main sponsor, another said there phone does not have mobile money although that was advertised on their sign, and one said we needed our passports to register we finally made a call to costumer care and found a place in Fort Portal to sign up. You did not need to send your name, age, electronically sign a waiver to sign up for the race, or specify what event you wanted to run (full, half, or 10K) so here’s hoping that we are indeed registered. Oh yeah, there is also a confusion over what time the race starts I’m not sure if they run on African or American time at the race.
There have been some articles in the newspaper about the race, and due to the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon (which I was apart of) and recent al shabab terrorist alerts security has been tightened for the race. One Boston terror event was enough for me so I am praying that the race will be a peaceful event. I’m not sure if this makes me feel any better or just want to laugh, but according to the Ugandan newspaper, “police [have] entered a strong team. So in case you see something suspicious, tap the policeman running next to you. He could actually be your savior.” I think I will stick to prayers and wear the red rosary I wore at Boston to get me through safely, and well if the police man is running next to me that’s okay too.

My Admirerer

 I never know what to expect on my daily runs here sometimes I am  accompanied by friend or a random student along the way other times my run ends with me collecting firewood on my head or visiting a friend’s house for a “short” time. However, what I do know is that no matter what direction I run in or at what time my “admirer” will be outside looking for me.

Let me start from the beginning, way back at the end of September when we first got here my runs were always full of people- old and young stopping, staring, and shouting “mzungu,  mzungu” at me. That still happens to a large extent, however, now most of the people have figured out my name or impaco (Rutooro nickname- Abwooli.) I usually would just smile, wave, and greet the person as I ran by. However, there was one man who works at a corn mill next to our compound that was extremely persistent in getting me to stop and talk to him. Everyday he would say- “you come here, just one minute. I want to talk to you.” For several days I would wave and keep on running by. One day though I decided to appease him and stopped at the end of my run to say hi. BIG mistake. He told me that he loves me and wants to be my girlfriend. I lied and told him I had a boyfriend back home. His reply was “take two.” I told him I could not do that, but he was not convinced. He continued to tell me loves me. Keep in mind he did knot know my name, and I did not know his. I eventually was able to spot someone I knew on the road, and make an escape back home.
Telling him no does not mean much to him, because now no matter what direction I run from home- left or right he manages to spot me on the road, and often will walk in the middle of the road where I am running. I avoid eye contact thinking he won’t say anything, but nope the man is persistent. On the way home from work we drive past where he works to drop off two clinic workers at their homes, and he spots me in the car and now blows kisses at me, and puts his hand over his heart.

This weekend I finally found out the man’s name. I was running in the opposite direction of his work place with a friend and the man was along side the road eating. He again stood in the middle of the road, tried to offer me some food and talk to me. My friend and I continued running past, whew, I thought I won’t see him again today. Wrong. A few minutes later he appeared next to me driving a boda (motorcycle) and continued to try and get my attention. I learned from my friend that his name was Cato. He works to the left of our compound, and lives to the right of the compound so that is why I see him so often. And the worst news of all…I learned he was a twin! Oh God.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Next Race

So I have found my next race- the MTN Kampala Half Marathon on November 24th. This race will be vastly different from the Haile Marathon as this race will be quiet larger. There are 20,000 runners, the vast majority of which are Africans. I have seen ads for the race in the newspaper and on TV, but I have no idea what the water stops are like, if there is energy gel along the course, or what the route looks like. I am just planning on signing up and embracing whatever I find along the way.

I have continued running since the marathon, however, my runs have become quiet time consuming lately, and not because I am running for a long time, but rather due to the adventures I have encountered along the way. Take Saturday for example, I went for my usual out and back run, but on the way back I stopped to say hi to a fried on the road. She told me was headed in the same direction as me, but needed to finish washing a few things. Okay, I thought it will be about a ten minute wait, no big deal. Boy, was I wrong. Forty five minutes later after finishing washing, drying, and hanging a large pile of clothes, feeding us pineapple from her garden, and showing us every picture she owned I told her we had to go. By this time it was midday and the sun was high in the sky, and it was hot! I was still sweaty from my run, and the flies were loving the dirt on my legs. The girl, Kyomange is such a sweet girl, and I enjoy her company very much, but at the same time I couldn’t stop thinking about how much stuff I had to get done that day around the house. I constantly have to remind myself that we operate on African time here (add an additional half hour at least to whatever time you are told.)

Fast forward to the following Saturday. I went outside, opened the gate and took a look around checking for bodas that were on the road, and gauging where I could step so I wouldn’t get my shoes immediately muddy and full of dirt. I wasn’t outside the gate for more then 20 seconds when four village kids spotted me. I was planning on running with one of them, but the other three said they were on the way to collect firewood in Omokuku (I still have yet to figure out if Omokuku was the place the firewood was at or the Rutooro name for firewood.) Anyway, Omokuku was in the same direction I was planning on heading for my run. So I followed the four children who bypassed the main road I was planning on taking, and instead ran parallel to the road on a very narrow “trail,” which was really just a small path between the bush. Eventually the bush trail connected with the main road to the tea plantation, and one-by-one the kids seemed to fall behind, except for one, Karim, who ran with me for the 3 ½ miles amongst the tea plantations to the tea factory. We touched the gate, smiled at each other for making it that far, took a deep breath, and ran back. However, the way back was hilly, and soon Karim fell behind, but I reconnected with the other three who were waiting on the side of the road resting. The two youngest ran back with me for a bit and convinced me to stop for firewood. Again thinking it would just be a short ten minute stop I agreed. We walked down a “path” among the bush that they created. Stupid of me to think the firewood would just be a short distance from the road. Nope, after a good 10 minute walk I was lost and had no idea which way was out, but the kids went to work with the panga chopping tree branches and gathering it in a pile. During that time we also had an hour long chat about the plan they had created on how I was going to take them to America. The two were brother and sister and were about 7 and 10 years old. The 7 year old had said that I could place her in a bag and carry her on to the plane. She promised me that she wouldn’t say a word and that her mom had already given permission for me to take her. This girl is one of my favorites, and I would love to take her back home, but that is not possible, and unfortunately she thinks the only thing standing between her and America is a passport. Keep in mind she would have to go at least an hour a way to the next biggest town to get a passport, and there is a pretty good chance she has never been in a car let alone even seen the next town. Anyway, back to the firewood. So the brother, Ivan, found some matoke leaves in the forest which he used to wrap the firewood up with, and he then proceeded to place his sister, Patience’s, jacket on my head and then the load of firewood on top of that. I was planning on running back the rest of the way once i followed the children to the main road. However, I ended up carrying the firewood a good mile and a half back home. We had to pass through the trading center to get to Patience and Ivan’s home, so of course the Africans- children and adults alike got a good laugh at a mzungu carrying a 15 pound load of firewood on her head. One man commented “you are an African woman now, why don’t you marry an African man?”

The next day I stopped to again say hi to one of my village friends, Eva, towards the end of my run. She works in a shop and has a 2 year old daughter, Irene. I met her in 2009 when she was in Kyarusozi primary school. In 2012 I was surprised and sad to find out that she now was pregnant. She was 20 at the time, and had a bright future in front of her. She is doing well now, and again what I thought would be a quick stop to say hi to her ended up with me following her to her home and her showing me every plant in her garden. Sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, beans, avocado, jackfruit, chickens, pigs, bananas, matoke, etc. Her garden was beautiful, and she was determined to show me how to dig for large sweet potatoes. After a good half hour of traversing the garden I was back to my run- and only because I had to get back to the house for another scheduled activity.

Like I said my runs have become an adventure. What tomorrow will bring, well who knows…