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Friday, August 26, 2011

Where There is No Doctor

Over the past couple of days I have realized a great deal of the Peace Corps informational sessions are used to either scare the poop out of you or make you think you will know what you’re doing when you get to site.

We had another informational, great health session. I like to call it the Russian Roulette of Infection Diseases. Shall we play? I have basically been promised to suffer from one of the following diseases (if not multiple diseases at once):

3)Brucellosis (also known as Crimean, Malta, Maltese, or Rock Fever)
4)Rabies (even though we are getting vaccinated against it)
5)Tuberculosis (again, even though we are getting vaccinated against it, which will eventually lead to my testing positive for TB for the rest of my life)
6)Yellow Fever (AGAIN even though I have been vaccinated against it)
8)Ebola (yeah, that’s right, EBOLA. The FLESH EATING VIRUS)

I have also been guaranteed to meet one, if not all, of the following creepy crawlies:

1)Giant millipedes (yeah, not just the regular ones, oh and these will give me a rash)
2)Rain spiders
3)Jumping spiders
4)Nairobi fly (shouldn’t these only be in Nairobi given the name?)
5)Blister beetle (yum)
6)Jigger pod (oh, please look this up on Google)
7)Bed bugs
8)Mango flies (my ultimate favorite)

So what have I learned?

I am risking my complete existence by agreeing to serve in Peace Corps Uganda.


I am surprised they didn’t make me sign a waiver for my life. Oh wait, they did!
Ok, ok, enough drama. All jokes aside, this is apparently some real serious shiz. Of course, I promise to be as careful as I can be, but given the fact that I will probably run into one of the above mentioned diseases and bugs, I can’t do too much to prevent something from happening. I am going to take the precautions necessary and hope for the best, but you bet your guns I am still going to go rafting the Nile in Jinja. Sorry PCMO, you will just have to deal with my schisto infested bum.

After the amazingly informative session on my health deterioration, we visited the TASO (The AIDS Service Organization) where we learned about the NGO and how they are working to combat HIV/AIDS in the community as well as the entire country. The organization, at first glance, seems AMAZING. In all honesty, it really is an awesome organization. There was only one issue I had with it. While they are really successful in helping combat AIDS and they are trying to decrease the stigma of the disease by allowing patients tell their stories, it can come off as exploitation. The organization welcomes visitors by having patients sing and dance. It is truly inspiring to see the hope these patients have, but at the same time, is the money I am giving them for a paper bead bracelet going to the patient treatment or the administrative costs of the organization? I hope that the organization is not using the patients’ stories as a publicity stunt to get more funding and donor interest in their organization, but at the end of the day that could be the issue. I just have to have faith that they are doing the right thing, for the right reasons. If I had a chance, I would love to work with an organization similar to theirs to understand the inner workings of the organization and gain a better understanding of what they do with the donations sent in.

You can visit the organization website at .

Don’t take my word for it, look them up and judge for yourself whether you think they are doing truly benevolent work.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We the Living

So I have decided instead of recapping every day in the life of a volunteer I will simply write posts as I can write them and hope to capture the madness that is PC training as best as possible. I know, I know, you will miss the specificity of the dates associated with the major events occurring, but I assure if, you the date is completely necessary, it will be included in the post (which, to be honest, dates are never really important. At this point, they simply run together like the matoke I eat every night).

Since my last update, I’ve begun a personal journal to write all my feelings (cue the sappy music). At first I thought this blog could serve as an emotional outlet, until I realized all the “important” people who would be reading it. This includes, but is not limited to very seriously important people involved in my Peace Corps Uganda service and many family members who would not appreciate my five page rants about people not talking to me. Either way, I have decided to separate my feelings from the mere commentary on my life here in Africa.

While on the subject on my life here in Africa, I have yet to experience that “OH MY GOD I’M IN AFRICA” moment. I had it when I went to China (almost once a week in fact) and I had it many times while I was in South America. This makes me wonder why the heck I haven’t experienced this feeling yet, as I have been in Africa for almost 3 weeks now? This almost makes me sad, but of course I have to realize while I am in Africa I haven’t seen any of the stereotypical Afican sites, i.e. Mt. Kilamanjaro, lions, elephants, etc. if a lion walked down the street I am pretty sure I would have my “OH MY GOD I’M IN AFRICA” moment (along with soiled trousers (otherwise known as pants)).

Speaking of soiled trousers, I HATE doing laundry by hand. Lucky for me I haven’t soiled my trousers yet (notice how I said “yet”). I know, I’m sorry, I’m talking about my poop yet again. Hey, what can I say? That is life here in Africa. It revolves around a few simple things:

1)Digestive habits (including pooping cycles)
2)Food (more so the discussion of the ridiculous foods our homestays are providing us)
3)Training (above all else, how completely exhausting and un-autonomous we feel during training)

I’m pretty sure I made up the word un-autonomous, but I am assuming people will understand what I mean. You lack pretty much EVERY sense of independence and autonomy known to man. I feel very bad for the older folks in our group who had had their independence for years. I wonder what it is like for them to have to follow is ridiculous schedule and have a curfew (gasp!). It is bad enough for me, coming from USF where I had no curfew and could do pretty much anything anywhere and at any time. I would have no idea what it would be like for someone in their 50’s who was completely on their own. The best way to describe it is to say we’re back in primary school. Follow the leader, wait for the bell to ring, etc.

It sucks.

Other than that, everything is pretty much “normal” or as normal as one can be in Africa. I’ve gotten to know some really cool people here and am excited to get to know them further. I am sad to say that some people I was hoping to get to know better seemed to have slipped off the radar since staging, but I guess if we were meant to be friends, we will be friends (wow, so external of me). Either way, I’m having fun and things are going fairly well. I’m reading again, which is awesome. That is not to say that I stopped reading at any point in my life, but it seems that with my somewhat free weekends, I have found more time to devote to reading for fun (although I realize that I should probably devote some of this time to learning or perfecting Luganda).

Oh yeah, another bit of news. I HAVE CHEESE! Not sure if I mentioned that in any other post, but even if I did, it is worth mentioning again. Now, I am on my hunt for baked goods. My host family is awesome. They accommodate to my every need and my host mom is super liberal. While I can’t understand them sometimes because they are so soft-spoken, I do thank my lucky stars that I was given a host family that can provide me cheese, toilet paper, laundry soap, and feminine hygiene products without a penny. I know, I know, I’m probably going to take it for granted, but I swear I offer to pay every time I use any of the afore mentioned items!

I don’t know what else to say except that I miss all my friends and family tremendously. Even though I am quite busy most of the day, I still find pockets of time where I miss each and every one of you.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

So I’ve found that the internet here isn’t exactly what one would call stable. It also isn’t cheap. Well, cheap meaning free. I put in 2,000 shillings onto my Warid adapter and got maybe 1 minute of internet. Ok, I know, that’s pathetic of me, putting less than $1 and expecting actual internet time, but that’s me. Always expecting more out of things. Oh well, I’ll just go recharge it one of these days on my way back from training. Ok, onto my recap of the days you missed!

August 8, 2011: Uganglish lesson

Yes, that is correct, Uganglish. Or, more properly termed, Ugandan English. Anyways, we went through a survival course of this and it was HILARIOUS. I really appreciate the trainers teaching us the terminology the Ugandans use when speaking English, because let me tell you, it is completely different compared to American English. They use phrases like reduce in order to signify the lowering of something, whether it is a size or price. They also say things like “you are lost” which just shows that they have missed you. It is cute in a way, although it can be confusing as times. It is similar to the English used in India in some cases. It’s not exactly proper English, but it works. Ugandans have also taken quite a bit of American slang and have integrated it into the Ugandan lifestyle, for example they do the fist bump (known to some as knuckles, or simply knucks), known here as “bonga”. I am going to try very hard to integrate other American slang into the Ugandan way of life. This will be a fun side project for me! Other things I have noticed about Ugandans is their pride. This is not a bad thing at all. I think it is amazing how so many people outside of the U.S. really have pride in their countries. That is something we really need. There is always going to be something wrong with a country, but to have true national pride is something that cannot be taken away (by the way, when did “cannot” become one word?).

One thing I have come to love about Uganda is the rain. Sure it can be annoying and somewhat disruptive, but it is so beautiful on the metal ceiling tiles. It is so nice to hear the flutter of the rain drops against the roof. Even if it rains all night, I think that I would still love it. You can really feel the sense of rejuvenation after a great rain storm. We have had a few here while I’ve been at my homestay. I have noticed that my roof is leaking (this I will explain further in a different day’s recollection).

Ok, enough with my observations, on to more pressing matters. First off, to anyone who is planning on sending me letters, DO NOT SEND INDIVIDUAL LETTERS! Write a few and send them in a large USPS envelope to ensure the receipt of the letters, otherwise they WILL get lost in the mail. Also, if you are sending packages or letters, add “sister” in front of my name in order to give the package a religious feel. This will ensure that the Ugandan postal workers will not mess with my package or letters.

Another note, I will be learning Luganda. I am fairly excited about this because I will have a three day head start over my peers who are learning other languages! TAKE THAT! Ok, enough competitiveness, PST is all about fostering friendship between PCTs, right?

Last note, my phone finally works. I will be changing my contact information on the side bar for those who care and wish to call.

August 9, 2011: The beginning of the end

As morose as this sounds, it is true. This day was the beginning of my sickness. I only have two words for you. Pee butt.

That is all you need to know.

August 10, 2011: The continued deterioration of my health

Same as above, except times 100. Also, note that my peers actually care. Happy day.
Oh and lesson learned, DO NOT BRAG ABOUT SOLID POOP. You will regret it.

August 11, 2011: Homestay

My pee butt prevented me from going to homestay. That was good and bad all wrapped into one. I’m happy because I don’t have to poop in a latrine for at least one more night, but I’m sad because I was looking forward to homestay. We are at a new training site. It’s pretty swanky. I’m on a liquid diet. I can’t even enjoy the amazing food being prepared for me, why? BECAUSE I AM AFRAID OF THE PEE BUTT. God save the queen. Yeah, yeah, I know, drastic much? But you don’t know what its like to be worried about having to make a mad dash to the toilet mid breakfast (or any other meal).

On a side note, I realize how amazing movies can be when you are stuck in a room doubled over, not able to move for feel of inducing bowl movements. Michelle and I watched Scot Pilgrim and Trick or Treat, bother highly recommended for the sick.

August 12, 2011: The end of the end

Well, sort of. I still have the pee butt but I decided it is not as bad anymore. I took an immodium and it wore off right when I was waking up. I had to run, I mean RUN, to the toilet. It was somewhat comical in retrospect. I feel bad for Michelle though, she had to hear all my unholy sounds (TMI much?). In an attempt to actually gain some kind of energy, I ate breakfast. Bad idea. Very bad idea. I also decided to go to homestay today. That was probably an even worse idea, however I guess everything happens for a reason. I have gotten used to pooping in a latrine, whether it be pee butt or solid poop. Happy day. I met my wonderful host family, I have 3 sisters and a brother. There is another sister who is married and doesn’t live with us, she is amazing and has the most adorable son. I am the fourth PCT they have hosted, which makes me feel less special but happy because it means they know what they are doing. I had great conversations with all the siblings and they soon realized I was a big ball of laughs. Soon after moving in laughter filled the compound. Even now, every night at dinner all you can hear is laughter. I enjoy it. I love making people laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, they say.

August 13 – 14, 2011: My weekend at homestay

My weekend at homestay consisted of my laugh bought of pee butt, morning thunderstorms, more pee butt after breakfast (which I ate mostly alone), my sisters running around taking care of business, my mother going to her catering gig, a goat running amok in the kitchen, Jason Mraz playing at the bar next door, Carol (my sister) going to study but not really going to study because she decided to sleep instead, pills, pills, and more pills, and a leaky roof. I think that was as adequate as I hope to capture the weekend. Well, Saturday at least. They play some awesome music here though. Sometimes its really good reggae and sometimes its really bad pop music, but they have some great mixes (my sarcasm doesn’t translate well online). Saturday also consisted of washing dishes, reading A LOT, little girls running past my room door, talking to the neighbor (who is now my best friend, I think) and watching Spanish soaps (in English).

Sunday consisted of a breakfast omelet, my sisters going to church, my mother telling me about church, watching dragon tales, Lugandan music videos, English music videos, missing a PCT gathering, staring at TV shows I could not understanding, Ugandan wedding shows, and finally getting out of the house and exploring the town. Carol and I walking down to the main square and took a look at things, went to the market, bought some avocados and ran into some PCTs. We explored where other PCTs were staying and I have to say, some of these pads are swanky! I’m almost jealous, though my amazing host family makes up for anything I feel I am missing out of this experience. They make me feel like I really belong in their family and they laugh at all my stupid jokes and let me ramble on and on (much like I am doing now). They let me get into heated discussions about the harm foreign aid is doing, the fact that Barcelona is a better football team than Man U, and let me tell them all about my home in Florida. I am lucky, I have to say, that I got such a great homestay family. They let me do my own thing when I want, but they also include me in everything as well. I feel loved and special, in a good way.

August 15, 2011: first day of REAL training

Today started off with a mild panic attack. I was meant to wake up Carol (though I didn’t want to) so I could get some warm water to bath with in the morning. I tried knocking on her door three times, but it seems that her sleep is a lot deeper than even she imagined. Finally after a few more tries I got her up. The water was still kind of cold, but it was better than the normal temperature of freezing. I had an omelet for breakfast, which I thought would make me late so I rushed and ate it. I pooped twice after, which was probably due to the speed at which I ate the omelet. I’m on my regular pooping schedule though, yippee! Sorry to those who do not really want to know or care about my pooping schedule, but that’s a big part of being a functional PCT. We learned more language this morning; I think I may be starting to get the hang of this Luganda thing. When I tried practicing in town, however, it seemed to fail me. At tea time I raided the storage room to get my computer so I could attempt to keep up better with this blog thing (although that is proving harder than I thought). I was happy to note that people missed me this weekend. The PCTs had gone out to the bars and it seems that they actually missed me. After training today we went to the bar and I caught up with a lot of people, especially people I’ve been wanting to catch up with for a while. I had good conversations with my fellow PCTs and I’m happy to say that I really do enjoy all their company. I hope we keep contact when we separate to our individual sites.

Wow, that was just full of cheese and happiness.

August 16, 2011:

Quote of the day: “You’re like my top up sauce, Andrew. You make everything better.”

So I woke up this morning to rain and lots of mud. I have to walk to my training location, about 40 to 50 minutes away. It isn’t so bad under normal circumstances, but when it has rained all night it definitely puts a damper on the morning walk. I also found that I lost a sock somewhere in the night. It wasn’t so much that I lost a sock, but that I didn’t understand how I couldn’t find it. I looked all over my room and somehow my sock has completely disappeared. Not sure what to make of this, but its ok. I guess I can get over it.

Today in training I learned about water safety and proper techniques to have safe drinking water. Apparently when I get my house for Peace Corps, I get a completely empty house. This made me kind of nervous. I haven’t actually completely furnished a home before. I hope the people in my community or the people who are working with me in my organization can help me find things to furnish my place with. I have to keep remembering that people have done it in the past and continue to do it, so it shouldn’t be as big of an issue as I am making it out to be. I guess it is just that unknown aspect that is making me nervous.

Also in training we spoke a lot about poop and what it can tell you about your health. This comforted me because it made me realize I wasn’t the only one who was putting a lot of focus on my digestion. Your poop can say a great deal about your health and your dietary intake. It can tell you if you are eating nutritious foods and if you are having a stable diet. I have to say, your excretion is really the thing that says the most about you, not your trash!

In other news, my zipper broke on my bag, but I fixed it (although I pretty much ignored the rest of the water and sanitation session to do so). We also did a ridiculous human likert scale exercise which I always loathe doing. I guess it was nice to see where people stood, but at the same time I just don’t enjoy creating division and conflict between people in the group.

August 17, 2011:

Today was somewhat uneventful. It was raining pretty much all day. I showered in the rain and walked to school (training, but it feels more like school every day) in the rain. It is interesting to notice the dynamics between people in our training class. I can already see relationships forming between people. I also helped make dinner. That was fun. I always try and help make dinner but I didn’t even have the “trust” of my family, but I guess now I do, or at least they are willing to take the risk. All I really did was roll out the chapattis but at least I got to do something. I also got to cut the greens.

August 18, 2011:

Another uneventful day. I had a really nice HOT bath this morning. Carol, my host sister, made me something resembling a rolex for breakfast this morning. *Just a note: a rolex is not the watch, it is a chapatti rolled up with eggs, cabbage, and tomatoes.* I took some cheese for Andrew which he loved. Now EVERYONE wants me to bring cheese for them. I guess its lucky I got placed with a family in which the father worked at a dairy plant.

We had a stupid peer support session today. I guess I shouldn’t call it stupid because it is there to support our mental health, but it really bothered me. The first and the last activities were fine, talking about our feelings and doing a huge cinnamon bun hugging thing. The activity that bothered me was the “touching” activity where people in the center of the circle touched people who either helped them, supported them, they wanted to get to know better, or that they wanted to support. I only got touched on the last one, twice, and it really bothered me that no one wanted to get to know me and no one felt that I have helped them but they felt that I NEEDED help and support. I just rubbed me the wrong way.

I guess today wasn’t as uneventful after all.

August 19, 2011:

IT’S FRIDAY, FRIDAY, FRIDAY! After a nice rant to Donny, my neighbor, last night, I got over yesterday and had a pretty good Friday. We did a community assessment which went well and helped me get some real exposure to what I might be doing in the field. After the day of training many of us went to the orange bar. Warning, taking malaria medication and drinking is a BAD combination.

August 20, 2011:

Language lesson in the morning. I miss having Saturdays off.

I kind of made my host mom a little mad. I guess I didn’t inform her I wasn’t planning on bathing in the morning so when she had already fixed my hot water she was a little upset, but I caved and took a bath to make her happy. I was a little late for language class, but it was fine. I got a bounty (although I wish it were a snickers) and ended the day with a monsoon.

I love rainy season.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

*Side note: Not that I think anyone noticed, but I have moved from music lyric titles to book title titles for my blog posts to distinguish those posts which were pre-departure and post-departure.*

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve updated this blog. The internet hasn’t been accessible so I’ve compiled all the events of the last few weeks so that I can rewrite and rehash them later. They are all organized by date so you can see how things have been going for me.

August 2nd, 2011 to August 3rd, 2011: Staging
I have to say that I wasn’t exactly impressed by the staging event. I appreciated that Peace Corps gave us a way to meet before we were in country, but some of the events weren’t as helpful as I hoped they would be. Most of the information we were presented with was already presented in the Welcome Book and other Peace Corps material. It didn’t seem as organized as it could have been; of course this being said not knowing what the process was to actually set up the staging event. I do appreciate that Peace Corps wanted us all to go in country together, it really helped to talk to the other future volunteers. This process never really seemed real to me, so meeting other people who felt the same way, who were going through the same thing really helped. After all the boring (I’m sorry, but it’s true) events of staging, a few of the PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees) wanted to go to eat dinner. At first I was going to get a small dinner with Michelle and Allison, but then I thought maybe I should be more social and go out with some of the other PCTs. Yeah, surprising huh? Me…social? It definitely was an adventure. I have noticed that I have come out of my element a little more, but I think this group really facilitates that. I feel that I can be open and myself with these people and they don’t judge me. The sushi restaurant we went to (just a few of us, not all 46) ended up being BYOB (bring your own booze), yeah I know, WTF Philly? Anyhow, we sent some folks on a wine run which took much longer than expected and got the night started. After dinner we had a bottle left over so we took it up to the pool and had a few glasses and some nice conversation. Don’t I sound like an adult? The rest of “staging” consisted of a 3 hour bus drive to NYC (why we didn’t have staging in NYC still confuses me) and spent many hours in the JFK airport. The next seventeen hours were pretty much a blur of airplanes and airports. I had to change into a skirt at the Brussels airport because we HAD to be in “professional”, also known as “Ugandan” attire as soon as we got off the plane. Yeah, seriously.

August 4th, 2011 to August 5th, 2011: First Day in Uganda
So we’re staying at a place called Banana Village. Yes, Banana Village. The name is super appropriate too, there are bananas everywhere and we eat bananas during EVERY meal. I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself though. When we got off the plane, the first thing that hit me was the smell of the air, the smell of the land. That’s what always hits me when I travel to different countries. We got off the plane and followed a maze to the baggage claim and another maze through immigration and to the Peace Corps bus. We got our first look at the trainers we would be working with for the next 10 weeks. Initially it was exciting, and in many ways it still is, however I was also very tired and my body just wasn’t prepared for the adventure quite yet. As soon as we got on the bus some of the other PCTs brought out their instruments and I soon realized our PCT group could easily form a band or an orchestra. We have some PCTs who are trying to learn instruments. I think that’s a good idea, something to fill the time. Alright, so back to the food, or at least the bananas. As soon as we hit Banana village we were greeted with bananas and samosas. They had meat and vegetable samosas. Yes, meat samosas. I think that might be against the law, but I guess to each his own. We went to our room and soon realized this was going to be a very interesting week because we had 20 girls in one dormitory. Seriously? That just seems ridiculous, at least at first. At some point I realized I kind of liked it just for the closeness I felt. Eventually people moved out and now there are only 12 people in the dorm with 6 and 7 in other dorms. Anyways…..I only got three and a half hours of sleep so the rest of this blog entry will be removed because it just doesn’t make any sense.

August 5th, 2011: Introduction to Training
5:35 am call to prayer. Now, I respect the Islamic religion and everything, but sometimes there has to be some limits. Ok, that was mean. Sorry. I take it back. It is interesting to note that I heard what I believe to be a female voice doing the call to prayer later on in the day. So we had our breakfast of eggs, oats, and peanut butter and bananas. Nothing really special. They had cereal but I never have partaken in that, at least not yet. We went into introductions of the staff and the Country Director actually quoted my aspiration statement, which I was pretty touched by. We talked about our inspirations and discussed things that were pertinent to Peace Corps volunteers. I thought it was really helpful to have Current PCVs come in and talk about things like cell phones, internet, attire, behavior, among other things. There were other things we went over, things like the current statistics of PC Uganda, which I won’t bore you with but it was cool to see the trends in service in this country. Cool thing is, a current PCV told me I might have an easier time blending in because there are so many Indians in this country. SWEET! Interestingly enough, Idi Amin was never mentioned in the history of PC Uganda or in the history of Uganda in general. After the history stuff we did some survival Luganda training. All the lessons pretty much parallel the lessons I went through on the PC website.
A few observations about Uganda: they love their tea time. After every session and at every meal they have tea. Also, in the local language of Luganda, tea is called “Caaiya” pronounced “chai”. I thought that was interesting. I guess India influenced them a lot more than I thought. Also the pronunciation of words, from the name of the country to the names of people is different with each person. I thought that was pretty interesting. A common phrase spoken in Uganda is “You are most welcome”, an example of how polite Ugandans are. I don’t know if it was 2 days of not showering, have crazy midnight bathroom breaks, hearing about snakes (potentially black mambas) but I feel like I’m on a jungle trek. Sometimes I wake up thinking, wow that was an awesome dream only to realize yea, I’m really in Africa. Maybe this is a result of the Meflaquine I’m taking for malaria, or maybe its just how I am seeing this country. But, I have to say, its starting to grow on me!

August 6th, 2011: More language training
Yeah, that is pretty much all I got. More language training. I tried making my phone work, with no luck. Kampala tour tomorrow, maybe I will have some luck then. Hopefully this Luganda will come in handy at some point. I’m actually enjoying the language, but I’m also thinking that I’m spending time trying to understand this language but what if I get assigned a different language. We’ll know on Monday.
Oh yeah, got my mentor group. Yay for mental health support within the Peace Corps.
Oh yeah, we also learned how to wash laundry by hand. Or, I guess in my case, re-learn?
This is probably my worst blog post ever. Sorry.
August 7th, 2011: Kampala Tour
Kampala, Kampala, what can I say about you? There is no real way to prepare someone for the city of Kampala, for the experience of the bus parks and taxi parks. There is no way. Let me try and capture it into words. After throwing up twice in the morning (yes, I threw up, don’t worry I’m fine now), I had a small breakfast of peanut butter and bananas. I am trying to supplement the high carb diet with a high protein intake of the peanut butter. That seems reasonable, right? Anyways, we got to wear non-Ugandan wear today, i.e. capris and t-shirts. I was excited. Back to my normal style. As we were making our way into the city, we were instructed to buy poop buckets. No, that is not a mistype. We were instructed to buy buckets in order to deal with night time emergencies. My bucket is a small sized bucket, which EVERY volunteer decided they had to comment on. I didn’t really understand this, seeing as how I’m a fairly small person and my poop isn’t exactly monumental in any way. Oh well, we’ll see how it works out. So, I got my poop bucket and surge protector at a local supermarket which was located within a big indoor mall (oh how the western influences continue to amaze me) and everyone else got phones. Luckily Gina graciously gave me her internet modem and I figured out that I could use the sim card as a phone. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the sim card was exclusively an internet sim card and I had to have it activated as a phone sim card. After trying to talk to current PCVs and the trainers, I realized the only way this was going to get done was for me to do it myself. I called the customer service line, which was in Lugandan, and finally got in touch with someone who spoke English. Unfortunately, they said my number was already activated and that I should try calling someone else’s number. I hung up and tried another number, a number I knew should work. It didn’t. Awesome! So I called again, got a different rep and almost completely told her off. I calmed down and tried to explain what was going on and she, God bless her, actually helped. She told me that currently the sim card was only to be used for the internet and I asked if I could change it to a phone sim card and she said it would be able to be done within 24 hours. SUCCESS! So tomorrow my phone should work, as a phone. If it doesn’t I think I might cry. I know, pathetic, but this is my life.
So, on to more events in Kampala. I got a marriage proposal, that was interesting. A guy asked a male PCT in my group about the other two girls in the group who were both married (I was in a group with two married couples, among others). So then the male suitor turned his attention to me. The guy, thank goodness, told the suitor my husband (fake, I promise) was in another group. Apparently this didn’t matter because the suitor decided that since my husband was away, he’d like to come to play. I pumped my fist sarcastically (big mistake since he was still watching me) which prompted him to follow me and offer me trips to Kisoro and Jinja. It was cute in some ways, not so much in others. I also got questioned on whether or not I was related to another PCT, who was male, white, brown hair, and did not look like me AT ALL. Nice. Another observation of Ugandans, they really like Obama. There were Obama stickers on people’s cars and people asked if we knew Obama personally. One of the PCTs even got a personal message to send to Obama. Other than that the best part about Kampala was getting to know the other PCTs. I was in a group with PCTs that I hadn’t really gotten to know well so far so it was good to shake things up a bit.
Our group walked about Kampala for a while after lunch, which consisted of New York style pizza (don’t judge me), and saw some interesting sites, including crazy dinosaur birds (definitely from Jurassic Park) and random guys trying to steal my water (not my purse, my water). Walking around we also noticed a lot of Indians. There were Swaminarayan Mandhirs all around the city. There were swastiks around the city, which prompted questions about why there were “swastikas” around the city. Thankfully there were other people in the group who knew the difference between the original swastika and the defiled symbol of Nazi Germany. It was interesting to know that some people don’t know the difference, even today. We also passed a Bank of Baroda, which is a huge bank in India. I thought that was cool, the more solid presence of India in Uganda, it was very visible.
The night ended with spiders and spoons and me typing this blog up. One of the PCTs found a spider in the bathroom behind our dorms and asked me to help her stomp it out. I followed her to the bathroom and didn’t see anything at first, but soon saw a spider the size of my palm (I promise you, I am not exaggerating). I went back to my bunk and got my body spray (to stun the spider, not to make it smell better). I went back with the PCT and sprayed the spider, which had moved closer to the door, and stunned it. SUCCESS! As soon as I tried to stomp on it, the spider came back to life and jumped AT ME! Holy cow! I screamed, the PCT screamed, and we all ran. The compound security definitely came asking what was going on and we had to admit (completely embarrassed) that we were screaming about a spider. After that a bunch of PCTs were playing spoons (super loudly) and having a bible study (two different groups, not both at once).
I also had a great conversation with a PCT, Andrew. We discussed how we both hope to be able to work with economic development volunteers because the business model can have such a positive effect on the health outcome of a community. While so many health community volunteers don’t necessarily agree with the business model, it has to be understood that in a lot of ways, public health and business go together. The business model can be used for good!

Ok, enough of this blogging shiz, I’m going to bed. Headlamp off!