Showing posts from October, 2009

Reports of Reverse Culture Shock are Greatly Exaggerated

I think I can officially say it. The readjustment really wasn't that bad. I was expecting it to be hard, but really, coming back was just not that big of an issue. Things were about the same as when I left. People don't seem to love Obama quite as much, but on the whole, not a lot has changed.

(Somehow, my being 1/2 of the Obama Brothers didn't get me through the White House gate)

People have been asking me a lot about what the best and worst parts about being back are. Honestly, I think the answer to both is just how easy things are here. If you need to do laundry, or replace a broken light bulb, or buy produce, you just do it. No brazenly disinterested shopkeepers, no obstacles, no bargaining. Just exchange money for goods and/or services, and be on your way, credit cards accepted.

(Farmers Market in Copley Square)

But that's also the problem. Living here, there's not that much mystery. That great feeling of waking up and having no idea what kind of trouble you'l…

Blue Highways

Some few weeks ago, I got an unusual phone call. Without getting into too many details, a friend needed a car driven from Florida to Connecticut, about 1,400 miles. It sounded fun enough, a good chance to see some other parts of the country, and it's not like I don't have the time, so a few days later, I got off a plane in Tampa.

(Not Florida, but very patriotic)

Now, I've gone down that way a few times in recent years to escape the awful, terrible, miserable, soul-sucking New England winter, so just seeing that airport brought back fond memories of Crabby Bill's, pirate festivals and severe dehydration. Driving back from the airport with the top down, enjoying the warm night air and gladly stuffing my jacket into my bag, I couldn't help but wonder why I decided to come back to the North.

Then the sun came up. I guess it was about three months early for my Florida trip, because it was like 90+ degrees and sticky, nasty humid. I thought I was down with the heat since I…

I'm still in Africa

I have been talking to some people and there seems to be some confusion. There are two authors of this blog, myself and Patrick. Patrick is now back home in the US and writing gripping transcripts of conversations with the elderly. I, however am still here in Africa scratching around in the dirt and eating bugs.

I went back to Sipi Falls (the place we went for my birthday / 4th of July) with my new roommates for a little team building retreat. We had a good time, and saw our guy Juma the mountain guide again. We placed some flowers on the grave of the dearly departed Tin Can Tony I, and did our best to honor his memory with some quality Waragi soaked campfiring. Of course no Marple reatreat would be complete without Mr. debating a white girl about the relative merits of caning women and how best to treat a beezy like she aint shit. To that end he did his best to enlighten Rachel as to the fair 60/50 breakdown of rights in a relationship. As in women and men are equal, men ar…

(Historic) New York Baseball

I'm spending a few days in New York City, which wouldn't be complete without at least one night of martinis and storytelling on the upper East Side. For those of you who may not know, the Yankees just finished off the Twins to advance to the ALCS, right around the same time that the Red Sox wrapped up the season by coughing up a lead in the ninth. Whatever. Go Angels, I guess. 
Given all this, though, Raymond and I got to chatting about baseball. As it happens, he has only recently, like in the last 5-8 years, become a baseball fan again. Why, you ask? Well...
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"What you have to understand is this: As a boy, I loved the Giants. Loved them. The first game I went to was a World Series game, the Subway Series in 1936, between the Yankees and the Giants. You remember that series I'm sure? There I was, an eleven year old boy, watching Bill Terry playing first and managing the Giants. And of course, there was [I don't remember the names, but he proceeded to name t…

Know what I'm hungry for?

Mysterious orange tropical fruit, that's what.

For some reason, these pictures never got posted. In the first, you will see Luke enjoying a "coconut," a robust, mid-bodied fruit that is best enjoyed after first beating it against a log for 10-20 minutes. Doing so softens the indigestible flesh, unlocking the crisp, floral flavors. Just remember to spit it out when you're done.

(don't lose a tooth)

This next is me, punishing a mango. What's important to appreciate in this picture is that there was a mango tree in our backyard in Lira, meaning every morning, we'd head out to the mango tree, grab the mango stick and knock down a delicious, ripe mango. Luke was much better at picking ripe mangos, while my specialty was finding hard, sour or rotten ones.

(for example, that mango looks pretty sour)

This was supposed to be a series, but through a combination of laziness, seasonality and camera theft, I can't seem to find any pictures of us eating jackfruit, which…

Boston Boda Boda

Just cause I'm back doesn't mean I have to stop having fun, right? I've decided the secret is just to keep living like I'm in Uganda. In the sense that even if something is not strictly "safe" or "wise" or "practical," if it sounds fun or convenient, hop on board.

The other night, I got a call from some friends a little after midnight. One of the guys had just moved into a new place downtown, complete with a roof deck with sweet views of the Boston skyline. Since it is still relatively warm here (according to them. I'm freezing, all the time), they figured what better way to pass the night than with a few drinks under the night sky. Honestly, I can't say they were wrong.

But there's a little problem with Boston, a problem that is as inexplicable as anything I had to deal with in Uganda. Namely, in a city with more college students than street lights, the subway shuts down at midnight, leaving you to rely on Boston's grossly o…

Foggy Lundun Town

We went to Europe for a little family holiday last week. I was in London for about a week, then in Paris with my oldest brother for 3 days. By coincidence my entire family was all in England at the same time, and since I'm going to be in Africa for Christmas I decided to go up there and relax for a few days in the civilized world (thanks Dad). We did most of the pretty standard sightseeing: the Eye, some castle, Roman baths, Eiffel tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon’s tomb, parks, etc. For me that isn't even really the interesting part. After 6 months in semi-rural Africa, just being back in a big city and being nothing more than another white person in a sea of white people was just mind blowing.

The biggest things that I really just had trouble wrapping my mind around were probably traffic and transportation related. The fact that there were traffic lights everywhere was just too weird for me. It took me close to a week to be able to just cross the street and trust that…

Home is where the heat is

I haven't totally given up on blogging from Africa yet. Pat has been really the driving force behind getting content up on a reasonably often basis. Now that he's gone I'm going to have to step my game up. To this end I'm semi-resolving to stop procrastinating and start posting regularly no excuses. But umm I'm actually not going to start till tomorrow (or the next couple days or something) when I get back home to Mbale. Right now this is more of a 'look I'm still alive, don't give up on me yet' kind of deal.

Anyway, I'm back in Uganda. Pat is home but I decided to stay longer. Soon when I actaully start writing again I'll explain why. I also have a little post brewing about the future shock of reentering a culture not my own from a different culture not my own, and the normal things that strike me as weird and vice versa.

I went to the bus park today to put my new roommates on a bus back to mbale. It's hard to convey the experince acura…