Friday, October 21, 2011











I’m sorry I haven’t written for a long time. I can’t say that I’ve been too busy- because that would be untrue, with the amount of time I have been reading and shooting the breeze under mango trees recently. Rather, Arua town has had a bit of a power problem. West Nile isn’t actually wired, it is all run by one ancient wheezing generator that was supposed to supply power for about 2 years (back in 2003), until the new hydro dam was constructed. If you do the math, that generator has been supplying a rather questionable and unstable stream of power for the last 10 years. Recently, it has really begun to feel its age, and there has been little to no power, even in Arua town. So when I have gone to town recently to use internet and do other power-related things, it’s been a bust. I think somehow there is some semblance of power right now, although surely not from this “dam” that has allegedly been supposed to be finished for the last 10 years.
Anyway. It has come to my attention to thank a few people, namely Beth Billington for a sriracha bottle which I finished in the embarrassingly short and record breaking span of a week, also Jerod for sending me a giant bottle in addition to a French press, awesome coffee, and other goodies (including seamonkeys and candy), and my parents and grandparents for the packages. Thank you everyone for the mail you send me. It is nothing short of obscene how much mail I get weekly. Love from across the oceans. I’m also starting to realize that that the two things that I will always be short of in Uganda are books and sriracha. I guess not much has changed.
The pace of life here right now, I would best compare to the pace of a beautiful woman sashaying slowly down a dirt road with a baby on her back and a jerry can balanced on her head. This woman smiles at me when she passes, somehow managing to raise a free hand to wave at me, and to me, this has all come to symbolize one simple message, “ilse, slow the hell down.” And I am. I’m slowing down. Most of my transformations and accomplishments take place in my mind, or through long languid conversations. I would love to tell you that I wake up at 5:30 am every morning to run to the Congo, or that I spend my weekends sweating triumphantly in my flourishing garden, or that I have implemented several successful projects and am working hard all week long. But that’s not true. On the other hand, I am taking more time each day to talk to people who I pass on the road, to cook delicious meals, and think more about why I’m here. I’m not here to change anything or anyone through groundbreaking projects or to write grants. I’m here to learn. To watch, listen, observe, and taste. I’m here to form relationships with the people I live around. And, hopefully help out anyone who wants the help. As a PCV I'm not here to force anything on anyone--- I'm here to respond to what the community needs and wants.

I think I’ve been reading too much Daniel Quinn. For my book club, we are currently reading “My Ishmael”, and I recently read “The Story of B.” For those interested, the first book in the series is called “Ishmael.” I can’t really describe what these books are about, but I can tell you that these books have made me think differently, or at least using a different lens, about our culture, and why we are so troubled. The books themselves are troubling, I think, because they call into question the things that we do and the things that we value. And why we are the way we are. But if a book can make me uncomfortable or reevaluate the reason I am doing something, then that’s a huge accomplishment. I appreciate the way that the books have made me realize what my Peace Corps Experience means, or at least how I should use my time here. It has resulted in some major re prioritizing. But when it comes down to it, it has told me that--holy damn, how lucky am I to be living amongst the friendliest people in the world (arguably). I would have realized that last bit with or without any book.

I have posted a lot of pictures on facebook of my village, especially during the independence day celebrations from october 9th, and from a recent visit to a local nursery school. I am also going to post some pictures on here. Enjoy.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome as always, Ilse. I love how open you are to all the things to see, do, experience and just LIVE in Uganda.

    And if I didn't seriously question the ability of the world mail system to transport things from Colombia to Uganda, I would be sending boxes of food love. ;)

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  2. Keep the photos coming! These make the experience so much more real for us duds. Miss you. Love, Mumsy

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