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Friday, May 20, 2011

Short-Term Assignments Are Not for the Weak

Five more weeks in Uganda! The time has flown by. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jake next week (on his 20th birthday) and Nate and Sara the week after that.  We will take the opportunity to be tourists with them.

Many of the ex-pat staff at Uganda Christian University use the summer months for home leave, so they have been gradually trickling out of the country. Some of our Ugandan friends are busy with the beginning of the new semester, or are off-session and have left campus.

James, our Luganda tutor,  and Jeremy Akin,
a Fulbright student from Georgia. James went
to Iraq and Jeremy is on a 7-week trip working with NGOs
in the North on mediation of land disputes.
Our Luganda tutor and recent UCU grad, James, accepted a job in Iraq. Another example of the global economy – US contractors with big defense budgets hire Ugandans to work in a variety of functions.  They pay them in Ugandan shillings, and presumably,  between  the favorable exchange rate and depressed Ugandan salary expectations, cash in.

It’s going to be tough to say good-bye. Beth found a Peace Corps Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo Facebook site with many photos of people we both knew in Peace Corps in the (gulp!) 70’s and early 80’s.  Looking at them reminds me of another time in my life when an intense African experience forged deep bonds.

The sky from the backyard

A Lizard Buzzard

A new small clinic a few hours away near Lugazi.
HIV testing at the clinic with Cindy and Cariel Smith and Rachel
from the Jinja AIDS Information Center.

We spent Easter weekend traveling to the home of Joyce, John and Hannah Kateeba, in the western part of the country. We stayed in their home in Bushenyi, where Ugandan honey comes from. We now know about 200% more about Uganda than we did before we went. We visited a retired army major/politician; a banana flour factory funded by the Japanese; two different churches; a traditional wedding ceremony; a baptism party, and Uganda' s only winery!  We saw zebras grazing by the side of the road, and the rolling hills were covered with eucalyptus trees, tea plants, and bananas.  It was a wonderful, if exhausting, trip.

Easter day at the after-baptism party near Bushenyi.  Lots of great
food, but no alcohol.

Looking towards the Congo in the Western part of Uganda.
Those are low, cloud-capped mountains.

More Western Uganda scenery.

Now, where was this one...? With Reverend Canon
John Kateeba.
The offering comes in all forms: cash, eggs, sugarcane, goats.
After the service, the deacon auctions off the goods to waiting
parishioners. It's a little like a market inside the church.

Easter morning at one of the two services we attended
with the Reverend Canon John Kateeba.

These long-horned Ankole cattle are found far and wide,
even outside of their home region of Ankole.

Hybrid goat raising at a model farm.

At the Major's house. He is an old friend of the Kateeba's; a
politician, educator, former Major under a former President
and now, a farmer.
At the Kateeba's house with lovely daughter Hannah.
What is a town without a steer? Mbarara, the center of Ankole,
celebrates its famous Ankole  cattle.
People are very casual about the cattle horns.  It was hard
to believe this guy was sitting right above a truck-load of  them.

Nature Corner

A Woodland Kingfisher

A Lizard Buzzard eating a lizard in the backyard.

On a hike through Mabira Forest, we learned
a LOT about strangler figs, like how
they parasitize a tree until it dies.

Lots of strangler fig, no tree left.

Fruit of the, ah, sausage tree (really)

Cocoa bean pod

A strangler fig strangling a tree.
A field in the Western part of Uganda.
A pensive monkey.

Double-toothed Barbet

At a roadside market. 
 The Introduction/Wedding
An introduction is a big formal party prior to the actual wedding. The ceremony we attended was a combined version that lasted for hours and featured (besides a downpour) lots of food, music, rituals and speeches.

The bride's attendants carrying gifts.

The bride and her sister, looking like Egyptian princesses.

More of the wedding party, all dressed up.

Leaving the ceremony.

A local dance troupe. One of the dancers may have had polio.
He could not walk.

Guests in fancy dresses.

It was really raining.

The Matooke flour plant
We visited a plant-under-construction for processing the starchy banana matooke into flour called "Tooke" flour.  There are a lot of advantages to central processing of a food staple, including waste handling. There are trash piles in every town now that are mostly banana peels. 

Obligatory UCU shot

Registration tents set up on the track.
 The Only Vineyard and Only Winery in Uganda

A neighbor and friend of the Kateebas has a vineyard and winery. It was a frankly amazing thing to see. The wine is called "Valley Wine". It helps finance a school that is also on site.

In the cellars.

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