Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hard to Believe...

But I'm down to my last few weeks here. It really seems like just yesterday that we were sitting in a hostel, discussing how utterly charmless Kampala was and wondering how in the hell we would (a) survive being here for six months and (b) create an NGO out of six phone numbers (of which, probably half were disconnected) and a general interest in microfinance.

And now here we are. Luke has officially signed on for another four months. I'm trying to find a way to continue doing this stuff for real (i.e., get paid) back in the Land of the Morbidly Obese. As for MAPLE, the group has a house/office, clients and a product to offer, not to mention a pretty solid niche to work within, focusing on a real need that people here have and that we as a group can reasonably expect to address. All in all, not a bad use of the last six months. Not bad at all.

(Personalized Business Skills Training Seminar? Yeah, why not)

It's really gonna be tough to leave. People always talk about how we [fill in the blank] love our personal space, but I'd always thought of it more in terms of physical space. Really though, it's emotional space as much as anything else. You see someone, you greet that person and shake that hand. Maybe you don't let go of that hand until you've talked about family, religion and marital status. These days, I find myself thinking less about the casual hand-holding and more about the intimacy of the conversation you can have with a total stranger without feeling uncomfortable.

Or, and this is really my absolute favorite, you see some cute little kid just gaping at you, so you stop to greet that wide-eyed kid. Get yourself a sticky, sweaty mini-handshake. If you're lucky and the kid isn't too shy, maybe make both of your days by sticking around and playing for a few minutes.

(If only I had a mini-American flag to give him... or not)

And of course, I'll miss the adventures. Being fully unprepared to deal with the daily problems of Africa is just non-stop entertainment. For example, we've developed a bit of a mouse issue over the last few months. It had been ok, but lately, the critters have just gotten a bit too cavalier about running around in the daytime and eating our delicious White People Food. So we have a kitten on order, but in the meantime, we have been trying to bring the wrath of God to these cute, pink-footed cookie thieves.

The other day, I came into the kitchen to find the trashcan squeaking and rustling. I did what any quick-thinking Field Director would do in that situation, and threw the lit on, trapping the mouse inside. Immediately, though, I found myself faced with a new problem: What am I going to do with this mouse?

Obviously, I can't just throw it outside, because it would just run back in through the three inch "ventilation gap" at the bottom of our kitchen door. I'm not cold enough to just reach in and snap its little neck. Plus, this wasn't some clean and hairless American Lab Mouse. I don't even think we have names for all the diseases this guy was carrying around. In any case, you can bet I wasn't going to touch it. I've even heard that putting a mouse in the freezer is a humane way of killing it, but with our intermittent power, it would probably end up being more like an air-conditioned movie theater than an icy grave.

So I did what I usually do in these situations. I consulted with Eddie. The Solution? Shake that trashcan. Vigorously. Repeat as necessary.

(Rest in Peace, Mouse. The rest of your Family will be joining you shortly.)

Let there be no doubt, Eddie is one hard dude.

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