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The view as I walk to school every morning.

Here I am, in week four of the Great Ugandan Adventure, and not a whiff of homesickness.

Well.

If you offered me a Five Guys burger and fries I wouldn’t say no. Or a Latino Chicken sandwich from Crisp and Juicy.

I also wouldn’t refuse a pedicure.

However, I am largely homesickness-free. I know, I know, it’s early days. But I think I’m learning a few tricks of the trade which will keep me busy and happy and generally glad to be in Uganda. Here are my top five homesickness cures so far:

Homesickness cure #1: students of AAH and village children in general. I like to avoid clichés, but this one is unavoidable. I’m no Princess Diana. There are days when I’m walking home and those little howareyous are coming at me from every corner and I want to scream “SHUT UP!” Or, “I’d be a lot bloody better if you’d leave me alone.” But overall, hanging out with smiling, singing African children who want to hold your hand and listen to you read, rules.

Homesickness cure #2: sense of humor. There are many funny things in Bumwalukani. For example, the sound people make when they imitate a rooster crowing. I have one word for you: Gob. If you don’t get this reference, you should maybe just stop reading my blog right now. Or, you should rent Arrested Development season 2 DVDs. Anyway, this poor little girl was just trying to give me a friendly lesson on the local wildlife, and she explained the noise a rooster makes. I laughed for at least five minutes because her impression was strikingly similar to Gob’s chicken dance. This brings me to homesickness cure #2.1: Arrested Development DVDs. Another volunteer and I recently watched almost the entire first season in one sitting while munching on Nutella-covered biscuits. Oh yes, this brings me to homesickness cure #2.2: Nutella. I have never doubted Nutella’s superiority as a food item, but my Ugandan experience has pushed my Nutella consumption to new heights. Skeeter makes a particularly appetizing dish in which she mashes cornflakes and Nutella together to form a sort of pancake. Last night she and Charlee and I hid in our room from the other visitors, and ate two plates of the stuff by flashlight. When Cynthia came in to go to bed we were like a group of disturbed lemmings—looking at her fearfully while pawing for the last crumb of choclately goodness.

Homesickness cure #3: mental flexibility. David’s birthday celebration is one good example of cure #3. In honor of the occasion Skeeter went in search of a birthday cake in Mbale. Some people had recommended a particular supermarket and once she arrived she was shown the store’s glass display case, filled with watches, jewelry, and, a cake. Just the one. It was unceremoniously put into a cardboard box, shoved into the bottom of her backpack, and carted around on the back of a motorbike. Its icing was like sheet metal. It sat out for four days, and it took David considerable effort to hack into the thing on the big night. Delicious is a stretch, but I’d definitely give it ‘edible.’ Throw in a mix CD, some slim-jims, and a freshly-slaughtered chicken and you’ve got yourself a birthday party. The issue of hygiene also requires pretty dramatic mental flexibility. Remembering that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger helps, as does avoiding all mirrors.

 

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I tried really hard to make David show his teeth. He resisted.

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Skeeter introduces Headmaster Thomas to the ipod.

Homesickness cure #4: understanding that the bugs have already won. You seal yourself into your mosquito net at night, and sleep with a can of Doom under your pillow, but the giant cricket will still find a way to get inside. Save your energy for more important things, like persuading all the other volunteers that we really should get a Guest House puppy.

Homesickness cure #5: the idea of a Guest House puppy who shall be named Murphy II. I’ll keep you updated on this particular project.

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