I am currently sitting on my back step, writing this to the tune of banana trees rustling in the warm breeze. Every once in a while, I catch a whiff of herbs and tea from the rolling hills of plantations located just beyond the banana trees. These are senses I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. My neighbors include sweet Gladys Night, a teacher and also my counterpart and sister, who has the kindest heart and the sweetest smile. Next to her is Jennifer, a P2 teacher who seems to be about my age. Jennifer’s giggle fits, that shake her whole body, brighten up my life immeasurably. I am in love with their essence.
There is a paved walkway leading from my back porch to my pit latrine.* Inside the house, I have four rooms – a living room, a bed room, a kitchen** and a bathing area. My house was constructed to meet Peace Corps standards by the director of the school who also happens to be a priest at the local Catholic Church that is located in my village, about two minutes from my house. The same priest also studied in Michigan (my home state) and while there, became acquainted with a church in Brighton that helped him raise money to do construction on the school (and indirectly, my house).***
My house is small but beautifully decorated. Every single part of me was represented within its walls, before I even moved in. My counterpart and supervisor dressed the place in pink chiffon curtains and tiny furniture. The concrete walls are delicately painted a cream color and the floors are covered with wallpaper-type material to disguise the coldness that lurks underneath.
My supervisor is also the head teacher of the school. I refer to her as “mother” because she worries about me and cares for me as if I were one of her own. She inspires me every day and she is so loving that I sometimes wonder what incredible feat I accomplished in my past life to deserve all of this.
Every night, I take a warm bucket bath, slip into my robe, and go around the house lighting candles before eating my dinner. In the beginning, I felt as if I was preparing for a hot date. Now I realize that I just have endless romantic dates with myself.**** Before I head to bed, I brush my teeth under the night sky, illuminated by a thousand stars, and wonder if I’ll ever be able to go back to city life.
There are many times when I’m going about my day that I find myself in awe of the life I’m living now. Previously, there have been very few moments in my life that I’ve been overwhelmed by the sense of gratitude and amazement that has characterized my stay in Uganda so far.***** The friends who have visited me so far have been quick to proclaim that I’m living the Peace Corps Dream (and also that my home is incredibly romantic).
But it’s not all breezy weather and candle lit dinners. I have to fetch water from a tank, I’m constantly counting down the hours of daylight I have left, I have virtually no internet service (oddly enough the only thing that works is Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), I’ve become closely acquainted with many different animals and critters, and I’ve uncovered a hidden animalistic talent of killing mosquitoes. It’s not perfect. But it is definitely home.
* Hole in the ground to defecate in contained by a locked porta potty looking thing.
**Kitchen = a room with a table and a cupboard. No electricity or running water means no appliances whatsoever. I use a paraffin stove and a charcoal stove (called a sigiri)…it’s pretty Peace Corps.
*** I’m not a religious person but that is one holy coincidence.
****Although sometimes the wine I drink with my dinner tastes like nail polish remover but what’s romance if not the pungent taste/smell of acetone from time to time?