Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 18: Mulongo (a light-hearted entry)

So, for those of you who know THE Bob Walters (his reputation precedes him!) you probably know that he always says that part of what we do as FPM is have fun because it can’t be all doom and gloom all the time. For whatever you might think about Bob and Taylor and I (and other Muzungu FPM members) we’re not really the “core” team. The core team are the people here on the ground like Mary and DS Mulongo and the doctors here. When we leave, they’re the ones living it out, working 24/7 for the goals of FPM, so as a side goal of FPM, we try to make things fun, because this is their lives that they live day in and day out, so who has the energy to do anything that long if it’s not at least somewhat fun? So I would be remiss in my duties as “blog artist” if I didn’t take some time to tell you about the fun stuff.

Traveling around with FPM is like traveling with one big, happy (sometimes dysfunctional) family. We live together, we eat together, we travel together. Most of everything I say is always funny to someone, either because I’m happily butchering some important word in Kiluba (accidentally, of course), or because I’m screaming and running away from “giant” lizards (they’re really quite small), or because I’m asking some ridiculous question (ex. “How do the chickens find their way home at night? Don’t they get lost?”). Which, lizards is something all together separate—there are lizards everywhere here—mostly tiny ones. So usually no one bats an eye when there’s a lizard running across the path or whatever, so imagine my surprise yesterday when Mary is calling me out to the garden to see a rather large lizard (perhaps a foot long) that everyone is whacking with a broom and jumping around and screeching. After the lizard is safely expelled from the garden, the days goes on as usual. I remain perplexed. In the evening they casually drop into conversation “oh yeah, that lizard? If he bites you, you die.” Then I was like, “WHAT??” and everyone laughs. (including me.)

My new favorite thing is riding on the back of the motorbike with DS Mulongo, which is great fun! The last time I had done so was in college, so it’s been too long!  It’s very practical for getting from place to place, but it’s also extremely fun. I love it ALMOST as much as being in the boat. (Maybe when I get back to the US I will be a “biker babe”….or not.)

When I came here, I brought my stuffed bear from childhood to keep me company (so dubbed “white bear”, twins with BFF Mollie’s “bearie”). This is a point of unending hilarity—Mary finds it so laughable that she is frequently recounting it to others and gleefully acting out my sleeping with it. The standing joke here between us is that I’m more like her two-year-old daughter, Joyce, than an adult sometimes, because I’m so helpless with some adult-tasks(watching me attempt to cut vegetables  without a cutting board is always good for a laugh). 

Additionally, since Mary is a nurse working frequently with women’s reproductive issues, I’ve gotten the safe-sex  and appropriate-use-of-birth-control talks (good thing—I always wondered how I managed to not get pregnant after 3 years of being married—mystery solved.), as well some humorous illustrations about the barriers to using birth-control here (ask me about the candy metaphor sometime). 

So whether it’s singing and dancing our way through brick-making, using henna to paint our nails (even in Africa, girls will be girls), or making fun of my endless cultural mishaps (me as much as or more than anyone else) we’re always having fun—lest you think that It’s all drudgery and sadness over here. Far from it. J

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