August 1, 2010

Iganga Town, Uganda

It could be malaria. It could be an idiosyncratic thyroid. or I might just be cold. The thing is, living in a world of malaria makes every chill or fever infinitely more noticeable – more epic – than it deserves. Just as spotting Neil Patick Harris on the streets of new york doesn’t mean a red carpet affair is just around the corner, neither does my night’s Sybil like temperature tantrums mean I’m sick.

Mostly I’m just settling in. and settling in here, as it was in Liberia, is going to be a process stretched over a number of weeks. For now I have squatting rights to the office’s dorm. For at least a week it will be a little snug with two of our field officers moving in as well. The temporary digs mean I’m not exactly at home yet, so much as getting a lay of the land and trying to figure out how to build on all the hard work that has already been done at my organization – while also introducing myself to this community as more than the children’s chant of mazungo.

Mazungo…again. I’m holding out hope against futile hope that the moniker hurled in my direction, from smiling mouths accompanied by small eager mahogany hands waving from yards and packed dirt streets, was actually directed at my counterparts. But I’ve been here before. I am not mislead by my own café au lait skin and long kinky hair. Here, I presume, as the children do, I am mazungo; just as I was lakugwa in south Africa and white woman in Liberia

And so my days are unfolding one by one. Iganga Town is far bigger than what I expected, than what I am used to for my international home. While anonymity is probably impossible for me here – it is possible everyone might not know my name or form an opinion about who I am, or am not, dating because we have been spotted together more than once, might not care. Not Monrovia big, Iganga isn’t Phebe (Liberia) small either.

Other things strike me here. The 5:30 am call to prayer sounding from our backyard – the mosque peeking out from behind our fence. Chipati, samosa, and spring roll vendors lined up along the streets – steam and smoke rising from gray coals. Yesterday I ate my first rolex – a fried egg with vegetables mixed in set atop a chipati and rolled into something akin to a burrito, better, cinnamon rolls before they have been cut for baking. A delicious, if greasy, treat.

Only two days here, I haven’t made my way through the rest of the street food. I’ve been told that the fried cassava is delicious. I’ve also eyed little misshapen balls of golden fried dough that I presume are the Ugandan incarnation of South African fat cakes and Liberian donuts. other long rolled, and presumably fried, dough-like substances sit in a heap and I wonder what savory secrets they harbor.

My sleep, unquiet prayer call aside, though not cacophonous is not yet rhythmic. I find myself waking periodically throughout the night and then permanently (for the day anyway) before 7am. At that time, the moist cold has not yielded to the Ugandan sun and I huddle against the chill that is not – most assuredly – malaria.

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4 Comments on not malaria

  1. Jon says:

    MMMMMMM…street food

  2. Linda O'Dell says:

    She’s baaaacccckkkk!!! Sorry u are not feelin well and hopefully better real soon but so happy to be reading your blog again and this one is excitin and still 2 more to go in one setting!!! Linnea, I am beginning to see a book on the horizon from all your adventures, fiction, non fiction, doesn’t matter to me which one! You up for it!!! Luv u my beautiful, courageous, altruistic and adventureous niece!!!

  3. linnea says:

    Thank you and I hope you keep reading and commenting and sharing with anyone who might be interested!

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