DAY 1 | “...I always thought stars were big, burning balls of gas..."

I’m going to combine Friday and Saturday and make them both into “Day 1” because we only spent late Friday night in Serere, but it was an eventful night worth mentioning. We drove about six hours altogether to the town of Serere in the Soroti district of Uganda. Since we arrived fairly late in the evening, all 25 or so of us USE students camped out at Margaret’s house, who is the woman in charge of arranging all the homestays. She supplied us with a huge spread of food and the typical over-the-top hospitality of a Ugandan woman.

When we finished dinner we set up a small bonfire and spent most of the night sitting on mattresses and straw mats on the ground and coming up with “Would you rather?” scenarios for entertainment. As everyone slowly trickled into their various sleeping arrangements (most of us were in tents outside, but a few stayed in Margaret’s house) Katie and I spent what must’ve been hours just looking at the stars. I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like an African night sky. Since we were also fairly giggly and the context pretty much called for it, we also spent a good chunk of the night reciting the scene from The Lion King when Timon, Pumba and Simba are stargazing and discussing what they think stars are. It was definitely entertaining.

When we woke up in the morning, it wasn’t long after breakfast that they started calling off names and putting us into cars for our homestays. I was actually the second student to be dropped off because my family was ridiculously close to Margaret’s house. Another student, Dave was the first, and our families ended up being related so we spent a good deal of time together during the week.

When I got out of the car at my family’s compound, I was greeted by my Toto (mom). She helped me with my belongings and set them inside the hut I’d be sleeping in with her youngest sister, Erina. My family for the week consisted of my Toto, my Papa, their son, Opio (4 yrs), Ephraim (7 mos), Erina (who was just visiting for the week before returning to school) and a couple other random neighbors and assorted characters. My parents also have a daughter named Monica who is ten, but she was away at boarding school so I never got the opportunity to meet her.

Right away, my Toto wanted to give me a taste of rural Ugandan life so she showed me what millet looked like and how to “winnow” (the act of separating the millet, or whatever it may be, from dirt/sand/shells/etc.) it. She also showed me how to go about shelling ground nuts, which are basically just like peanuts. I ended up shelling an entire bag and it was probably one of my favorite tasks of the week.

They had me bathe before supper. I was pretty used to basin baths from my Mukono homestay, but this was the first time I was outside, so it was a whole new experience. After I bathed, I ate with my Papa in the sitting room (which was a separate hut). Oh, and just a disclaimer: there was no silverware in my family’s compound. So every meal was eaten with my hands. I went to bed almost immediately after supper and talked to Erina for a little bit before falling asleep under the mosquito net covering my pillow-less bed.

1 comment:

  1. woot for eating w/ ur hands!!! y isnt that acceptable in america??