I’ve got about 2 weeks left here, now, can you believe it? I certainly can’t. It’s funny, the first 2 weeks or so seemed like forever, but the rest of the time has absolutely flown by! Most days seem pretty long (especially in Kakira, waiting around for Joseph to show up), but when I add them all up, I wonder where the time went! Especially when I’m having fun adventures on the weekends or hanging out in Jinja! Before you know it, I’ll be back in New York to hang out with all of you! I’m excited to come home, but I know I’m going to miss Uganda so much, too!
So, as you know, Wednesday was a national holiday in the U.S. Now, as you might imagine, celebrating American independence from British colonization is not something people really do in other countries. As such, there were no typical festivities in Uganda. No fireworks, barbeques or red, white, and blue. So we had to make our own fun and represent the good old U.S.A. the best we could! Caroline, the FSD program coordinator was nice enough to offer to host a party at her apartment.
A bunch of us met up there, with a variety of snacks. We made smoothies, with ice cream, frozen bananas, oreos (yes, they exist in some supermarkets, here!), and a generic form of nutella, called “nutkao.” Yes, nutkao.
The smoothies were delicious.
Also, to our extreme surprise and delight, we found marshmallows. Marshmallows! In Uganda! They were at one of the supermarkets. This was a huge deal. Granted, they were multicolored and made in Pakistan, but they were marshmallows nonetheless, and so we bought them and roasted them over a charcoal fire.
(Here’s your proof, they were definitely Pakistani marshmallows!)
They actually tasted really good, despite their appearance. Just like marshmallows you’d get in the U.S.! It was wonderful, and definitely an unexpected surprise! We tried to make s’mores, too. They were fairly nontraditional, as we used ginger snaps (there were only enough for each of us to have one, though) and nutkao, instead of graham crackers and chocolate bars. Still good, but not quite the same.
The charcoal stove proved quite useful. We made grilled cheese…sort of, and hotdogs! We didn’t have ketchup, mustard, or buns, though, so we had to settle for avocado as a topping (still really good!) and slices of white bread as buns. Just like home…almost.
And of course, as with many celebrations, you’ve got to have some drinks. Ours came in bag form. I know I’ve mentioned to some of you that in Uganda, they sell bags of alcohol in the markets (they sell bags of other things, too, like milk and water, but obviously, alcohol is the most fun to talk about). So far, I’ve seen gin, vodka, coffee liqueur, pineapple gin, and cane spirits—which were what we were drinking on the Fourth of July. Basically cane spirits are gin with sugar cane squeezed in there for flavor (possibly even Kakira’s own). You can mix them, and eventually we did, with pineapple juice and banana, but I certainly wasn’t afraid to drink it straight out of the bag, either—strong and cheap-nasty as it might have been. I guess I’ve got Sean and Chandra (and a couple of other brothers and sisters) to thank for my immunity to bad, cheap alcohol. Anyway, here’s how most people looked after drinking the cane spirits:
And here’s my reaction:
Aren’t you all so proud? (Especially you, Seandra?) Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and definitely a nice way to spend a holiday away from home. Particularly with a holiday like Independence Day, it could have easily been an opportunity for me to feel extremely homesick and frustrated about all of the things that I’ve been missing here, but instead, it turned out to be a really lovely evening, and a great bonding experience with friends.
Since a lot of you really liked my story about dancing with my host sisters, I’ve got another one for you! Last night, the family was talking about traditional Ugandan dances, so I begged Zahara to teach me some moves. She did, and of course, I was terrible at it. The dance steps involve a lot of dragging of the feet, which is something I’m really not used to. In every other type of dance I’ve done, that’s basically the exact opposite of what I’ve been taught to do. Tap dancing is the only remotely similar But I’ll keep practicing, and maybe by the time I leave, I’ll have gotten the hang of it, at least a little bit. Mama Fina was around this time, too, and even she got into it, singing the traditional songs with the girls and even joining in the dance, in the end! Later in the evening, Zahara and I were talking, and I was telling her about the different types of dances I know how to do. I now have to try and track down a copy of Singin’ in the Rain on dvd (or at least find a clip online of the very famous scene…if you don’t know the one I’m talking about, you should probably crawl out from under that rock and check yourself into a hospital). Maybe the store I like in Jinja will have a copy. Later, she asked me how long it would take her to learn ballet. I told her that I wasn’t sure, but that we could start right now, and gave her an impromptu lesson. !). I taught her the five basic positions, tendues, releves, and plies, as well as some basic arm-work. Turns out, ballet is as difficult and comes as unnaturally to her as the Ugandan dance does to me. I told her to practice standing with her legs straight and her feet turned out, in her free time, at school, pretty much whenever she can. I, in turn, will start dragging my feet everywhere I go (not really…I’d wear out the soles of my shoes even faster than I already have been). I’m sure we’ll both be experts by the time we leave. And don’t worry, I promise to teach anyone the moves who wants to learn. I can’t, however, promise that I’ll be able to teach them well. And we’ll probably look ridiculous.
This weekend, I’m just hanging out in Jinja, hopefully doing some dancing at the clubs, shopping (for souvenirs…maybe for YOU!) and watching my friends go rafting on the Nile! So stay tuned!