A funny thing happened this week. We got back from Mbale, moved out into a great house with a mango tree and a big family, and generally found our place here in Lira. Seriously. We have been living it up this past week. We met with the microfinance institutions in town and sold them on our idea of training borrowers in basic business administration. We found a makeshift office (read: bar/restaurant) with decent food, a place to work and a solid pool table. We even learned a sweet Ugandan version of Uno (the card game) from a 12 year old who then spent the next few days thoroughly embarrassing us.
Then we taught him to play Presidents and 'Losers,' which he picked up quickly (the other name rhymes with grass hole). So quickly, in fact, we even told him about how cheating is, if not encouraged, at least tacitly approved of in the game. Apparently, though, we didn't explain the subtle nuances of acceptable cheating, because now he cheats blatantly on every hand. We've created a monster.
Sadly, we also decided that it really makes the most sense to move our program to Mbale, which is just a little bigger, a little more centrally located and a little more suited to our program's needs at this point. We are thinking that we will be back to open a branch in Lira in the next stage of MAPLE's life, but for a central office, Lira just isn't ideal.
It's a shame too, because even though Lira is amazingly hot (even during the rainy season), it's a great little town. We are leaving behind some great new friends, and will be coming back up here a few times before we head back to the States just to keep the ball rolling with some of the contacts we've made. But I guess that's just part of the game.
We are leaving town tomorrow morning, if all goes according to plan (it rarely does, btw). We've got our man Rodney on the case to make sure we don't end up homeless again, but if nothing else we met a rock-solid Indian dude who runs a great hotel/restaurant on the outskirts of Mbale . So all is well. (Except for the road between here and Mbale. It's a story for another day, but for some reason, there is a beautiful sealed road that is totes off-limits. We have to drive on a muddy, rutted and hole-filled track that runs alongside the beautiful road. It's an exercise in irony and patience.)
So long, Lira town. Thanks for the memories. We'll be coming back, but before we do, go ahead and teach your damn dive-bombing lizards some manners.