Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Payless Produce Dept has nothing on me

Recently, I’ve been working on consulting for an NGO. It has been so much fun. It has also meant that I have received a lot of food. Unfortunately, all my partners have decided this week I need to eat more. And have been feeding me. A lot. Here is the meal count for the past week.

1) One lunch at NEGOWA Vocational Training Institute. We were served a chunk of posho (a dish made from corn; think cream of wheat but with less flavor and more dense) that was larger than my head. Melissa was luckily with me and we managed to eat most of it. In addition to that they gave us delicious egg plant and greens. I don’t like the greens. Neither does Melissa. I got away initially with seconds by lying and saying, “my Mother wouldn’t let me have seconds until I cleared my plate,” and then eating slowly, slowly. So Melissa got most of the seconds, then stopped the cook, pointed to my plate, and said, “oh she would like more too.” We haven’t spoken sense.
2) We ran like our team on chapatti night out of there. Only to be called back in for “something special.” Have you ever heard of jackfruit? It’s huge. People have to be careful when they are in season because if they fall on your head, you die. No laughing matter. It is massive and looks like a giant green brain. The fruit is actually pretty tasty, but I could barely eat it I was so full and there was a lot of it.
3) Just when we thought we were really done… the catering class finished their chapatti lessons. Guess who was given the chapatti to eat? And the roasted ears of corn? Luckily, we ate the corn incorrectly which caused the three old women at the school to laugh and mock us for about twenty minutes. Which gave us more time to digest the other food and force down the corn.
4) We were then loaded down with two po-pos? I honestly don’t know if that was the name of the fruit. Two more roasted ears of corn, two unroasted, and the remaining chapatti which we begged them to pack for us. We gave a lot of the food to people on the taxi home. See my entry on taxis next. I made Melissa carry my backpack because it was so heavy. When she opened it and saw that I had brought four books she was rather upset though. I personally think The Two Koreas the most comprehensive modern history of the Korean peninsula is necessary for any consulting trip.
5) I help teach a new business class. I was dumb and ate breakfast before going to the class. I was then given the most massive banana I have ever seen in my life. It took two bites to eat the while circumference of it. I was then given the entire bunch of bananas; this easily ways more than my cat Precious. They were delicious though.
6) I went to another consulting meeting. Again I was stupid and ate breakfast. I was given posho in porridge form. A couple chapattis and several sweet bananas. Sweet bananas are tiny. That does not mean trying to eat four is easy though. I was sent home with several.
7) I forgot to mention that Angie (our country director) and I were gifted a rooster a few weeks ago. She was recently killed and eaten. She was a rooster and woke everyone up very early. Like 4 am early. Even the most vehement vegetarians offered to slaughter her.
8) Today I was fed breakfast at class before I was permitted to attend. Breakfast=probably 5 eggs and tomatoes. And bread. And two sodas. I was only able to finish the sprite, don’t worry they let me take the krest home with me.

In summary, I will soon be the size of a sumo wrestler and the team has come to expect food on my arrival. It is now no longer surprising to greet me at the gate and be handed several bananas, chickens, or po-po. I still don’t think that’s actually the name of it. This has been excellent training for the mission. I’m comforted by the fact that Korea isn’t capable of growing as much produce as Uganda-so the odds of them unloading it all on me are slim.


Let me paint a picture for you of riding in a public taxi in Uganda. I have given you a list of instructions so you can re-create the experience.
1. Find a standard sized mini-van.
2. Break the air conditioner.
3.Remove most of the gas so that when you’re going up-hill the taxi starts to clunk and shake in a most alarming manner.
4. Put a Ugandan man at the wheel-he probably hasn’t had driving lessons. Driving schools here have the most calming ads. “Learn defensive driving techniques-DON’T PLAY CHICKEN WITH TRUCKS AND TRAINS!” I personally would think avoiding driving on train tracks in the first place would be a good lesson as well.
5. Put an 18 year old boy in charge of opening and closing the door and yelling out the window, KAMPALA, KAMPALA!
6. Cram the political science department at BYU into it-there’s about 20 of them right? We had 23 people in a taxi. I am not exaggerating, we counted.
7. Oh yeah; not one of those 23 people has showered recently. Ask me about deodorant.
8. Hahaha deodorant.
9. Place several chickens under your seat. They are very much alive. They do not like being put under the seat. Do you know what it is like having a chicken start flapping and freaking out under your skirt? Oh it is pleasant.
10. Drive at 10 mph to minimize wind flow in the very hot and crowded taxi.
11. Pass people while staring down an on-coming bus. They don’t teach “Don’t play chicken with busses” at the driving schools so you really can’t blame them.

On one trip to Jinja we had all of these lovely experiences. Our taxi took 45 minutes getting out of the taxi park. We switched taxis in Lugazi; our new one leaked. The taxi didn’t have enough gas. It died on the side of the road. We walked for a while before finding a new one. Oh yes, when the taxi broke down there was almost a fist fight when they wouldn’t let us off. Very exciting. Our taxi that picked us up only took us part way to Jinja. We then had a very expensive boda ride.

Our taxi home from Jinja took 50 minutes to fill up with ppl. We spent those 50 minutes tooling around Jinja trying to pick up passengers-they were unsuccessful. It probably didn’t help that I kept trying to gage if I could climb out the window. I tried bribing the guy to let us out. When that didn’t work I started yelling. Finally, the driver started driving us to Mukono. We picked up passengers on the way. I think the driver was afraid I would hit him. It was a possibility. I was also going to try vomiting in the taxi. I feel like they would have let me out after that. Hurray for public transport in Uganda.