Showing posts from August, 2009

Well Done Paul

You ever have the experience where you think you know someone pretty well and get floored with some new information? I had that the other day with the guy we share a compound with, the father of the kids we spend all our time chasing around. I already knew he was a really pious guy and all around good citizen, but I guess I didn't know the extent. I ran into him in town on Sunday, got to talking a little bit. Then he's like "I have to go, I have an appointment to read to bible to the invalids in the hospital."

This guy works 10 hours a day 6 days a week, Sundays are his only day off. His chosen way to spend his day off is 4 hours of church, then spending his afternoon reading and praying with dying people in the hospital. I guess I already knew he was a good guy, but I had no idea. It's a good feeling to learn that guy who's like our last line of defense against intruders in our home is even more stand-up than we gave him credit for. Well done Paul.

Gutter meat makes my tummy hurt

On Sunday we decided it was time to do an American style barbeque to celebrate our close friend and confidant Mr. John Baptist leaving for college in the morning. Chicken is boring, so we decided to mix it up and go for pork. At home this wouldn't be much of a story, but since we're in Africa... Wow, not going to make that mistake twice.

First of all pork is kind of hard to get your hands on in this town. As I write this I am hearing the Muslim call to prayer from somewhere (yep, must be 4:00), and Muslims don't dig swine in case you haven't heard. So to even get some pork you have to go to some certain neighborhood that only JB knows about.

Me: "Why only this neighborhood Beezy?"
JB: "This where all the Karamajongs live. The people down here are so hostile that the Muslims are afraid to come in and try and tell them what to do."
Me: "Is it safe for me?"
JB: "As long as you don't try and tell them what to do and never ever go here by …

The African A+

Finally. Luke's birthday care package finally arrived. For those of you keeping score at home, Luke turned 23 on June 30. Seeing as how our mother sent this package about two weeks before his birthday, and it just arrived today, some might wonder what took so long. Furthermore, since one of the girls who got here in July has already gotten a package and several letters, some might even be irritated and bitter. Not us though. Because the package actually arrived without being torn open, soaked through or crawling with rats and roaches, we will happily award the Ugandan Postal Service what we like to call the "African A+."

(America in a box. Real America, that is.)

The African A+ is a funny, funny thing. Like any A+, it is awarded only when someone or something really exceeds your expectations. On the other hand, though, it is definitely a qualified A+, along the lines of, "that overhead shower you installed today is everything I asked for and I love that you did it qui…

This taxi aint full yet

(Lira: approximately this fun)

[Part Two of the epic tale of our triumphant return to Lira- for part one see "Gyspy in Rasta's clothing"]

So we last left off in the middle of nowhere in Gulu just stranded, lost and hopeless. That being said, it was a huge relief to be out of that situation- constantly waiting for the next thing to go down. The problem wasn't so much that he was being a gypsy. Rather, given that he had shown himself to be a card-carrying gypsy, all bets for proper behavior were out the window and we decided its better to be stranded, lost and hopeless in NGO-town Gulu than on a rutted dirt road halfway between Gulu and nowhere. Because the last thing we'd want is to be in some 3 shop village between two places no one has ever heard of with no cellphone reception and like $20 between the two of us. Oh yea, and we don't speak Acholi. Because no one would want that.

To my knowledge we had one piece of useful information about Gulu: We had overheard …

Gyspy in Rasta's Clothing

[Part One of a two part epic]

(Scenic Gulu)

Last week we were extended an amazing invitation from a friend of a friend of a friend. He runs a project for war-orphans in Pader, which is way way way up north in the "war-torn" region about as far from somewhere as one can really get. Normally this would immediately go into the "thanks but no thanks" pile, but this one felt different. First off, it's not everyday that we get chance to go see that area with someone with real business up there- if the stories are true, you can't up there and not see some real wild ish. Second and perhaps most relevant, dude was a Rasta. You know like Bob Marley, dreadlocks, red, black green bracelets. The Rastaman is a friendly people, and if you can't trust a Rasta then who can you trust in this world, right?

So anyways, we went to Kampala to talk with him and iron out the details. All seemed to be ok, we agreed to help split the costs up to but not exceeding x shi-shi's. …

Bigups 2 da Selektaman, Bumbaclot 4 da Haters

Sunday was my roommate Shawna's birthday, so we decided to get a little fresh air and hit the town a little bit. Luckily Radio & Weasel were doing a show in town that very night, so of course we had to go check it out. Since no one outside of Uganda probably knows who Radio and Weasel are, interspersed with the tale I'll do a small, and long overdue, primer on the Ugandan music scene.

Radio and Weasel are the stars of our little adventure. They're hugely popular, apparently they're nominated for an MTV award for Best African Act. There's not much Ugandan pop-culture outside of music (no tv or movies are produced in the country), so the rock stars are really the biggest fish in town. You literally cannot spend a night out without hearing one of these guys' songs. They make hot fire, this track is the biggest thing since posho & beans. It's about getting a little of the morning bizniss- breakfast in bed style.

The concert was at Mbale Sports Club, coinc…

A different boneyard

I'm not sure how much backstory is necessary. The tap water around here tastes like toilet water and is probably just as clean. So it's all bottled water, all the time.

(Jon, if you're still out there, this is for you)

And we cook on unimproved stoves using charcoal made from the dwindling hardwood forests of equatorial Africa. Basically, we just hate the Earth.

Reflections for a Bulgarian Socialist

Just recently, Luke and I have started our lecture circuit. We're basically going around giving an hour-long empowerment speech, talking about how to find a good idea for a business. The real meat of the presentation is a series of questions, which are designed to help people think about a potential business beyond just "my neighbor is selling second-hand clothes, so I guess I could sell second-hand clothes."

The questions are interesting/appropriate enough (and, as it turns out, are shared royalty-free, meaning that we are not, in fact, stealing intellectual property). Some tease out whether there is demand for a certain product, others focus more on the methods of production. All in all, they're pretty good, and have gone over well in our early trial runs. Especially the strong Obama-themed closing ("Yes You Can Start A Business").

(The Philips & Philips Traveling Circus)

There is some talk about planning, which we are still getting the kinks out of, mos…

Where "chicken for dinner" still means "going out and catching, killing, plucking and gutting a chicken"

Nambuya Matilda went to a better place just a few hours ago. She was a sweet bird, maybe too sweet for a world where even Big Papi is now a juicer. She will be remembered for her quiet laughter, and for the delicious crust her skin formed when dusted with flour, paprika and garlic powder and dropped in a pot of hot oil.

By the way, based on our preliminary market research, somebody could make a killing around here selling fried matooke. Seriously people, why hasn't this become a thing? In a country where plantains and french fries are everywhere, it's so close. Just combine the two ideas. So delicious.

I just want to throw in that Michael Pollan is right (sweet article, by the way). Though seriously tasty, fried chicken is just too much damn work. Next time, it's back to roasting over tropical hardwood charcoal. And as far as cooking from scratch is concerned, if you're wondering how satisfying it is to have to cut off a chicken's head and pull out its guts out in or…