About Me

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I teach abroad and continue to pursue the life I was given as if it was my last. Many people think it is. In my spare time, I enjoy lapping up ice cream, reading spy novels, and euthanizing manta rays.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I've been here a month now. It feels longer than that in some ways. But what is time anyway...? Past memories floating in and out of the brain as you try to focus on the present? Time flies during the day here. That's for sure. Since dusk is at roughly 7 pm, daylight - or more precisely, sunlight - is precious. And with the afternoon rains almost always coming between 2 pm and 4 pm, it's morning that really sneaks up and passes. It's morning that's crucial. Crucial for washing clothes, hanging clothes, bathing, shopping, traveling. It's all predicated on the threat of heavy rain.

 If it rains you can't take a boda boda, the roads are a mess, pot holes fill with red mud, and traffic comes to a screeching halt.

Rain hit hard at 3 o'clock today and I sprinted across campus to take down my underwear and slacks from the clothesline. Since I'm in my office waiting for students to show for meetings, I thought I'd take the time to let you know what I do most days....

7:00 - 7:55: Notice birds chirping and Dan raking. Contemplate sitting up. Usually roll over and listen for imminent threats of danger or think of excuses to go back to sleep. Invariably this leads to:

7:56-8:00: Rising, I boil water, check the color of the sky, get caught in the mosquito netting, open front door, wave to Dan (he's usually in the yard), pour instant coffee and sugar into coffee cup.

8:00 - 8:30: After rinsing off dishes with boiled water, I eat some sort of breakfast consisting of yogurt, bread with peanut butter or salami, drink instant coffee, hopefully avoid throwing up, turn on computer, check sports scores and emails, stare at the pile of essays to correct and brainstorm where to go into town for groceries, better coffee, a real breakfast, and a slice of civilization.

9:00 - 11:00: Either spent at "Game", the WalMart of Kampala, "Good African Coffee," the Starbucks/Dennys of Kampala, or in office chatting with office mate and fellow Literature prof, Benon, as I try to find a cool idea for the week's lessons. Note: Benon is a grown up, Ugandan Alfonso Ribero with less musical talent but more personality and charm. And less hair. He's actually bald. But in a cool way...

11:00 - 11:30: Boil more water for a bath. Put dirty clothes, cold tap water and detergent in basin. Mix the three. Wait a few minutes. Set up hammock for afternoon down time.

11:30 - 11:34: Bathe in the tub. This does not need visuals or much description. It's not hygiene at The Four Seasons. It's also not entirely unsatisfying. Afterwards, I always pronounce myself clean.  The problem is - with the humidity - how long will I stay that way.

11:40 - 12:15: Wring out clothes and hang them in front yard clothes line. This takes longer than it seems, especially so with cottons. I have come to loathe wringing out cotton t-shirts and my husky bath towel. It takes nearly 36 hours to dry that towel.

12:15 - 12:45: Make any adjustments to the kitchen, check emails, relax in hammock and think about walking up the hill to the lunch spot on campus.

12:45 - 1:00: Walk up the dirt road, past the guest house, and into the house that serves lunch every day between one and three. I'm usually one of the first to arrive. I chat with Esther, who is very funny, sweet, motherly, and almost always is wearing her bright green Mountain Dew t-shirt. She tries to get me to pronounce the word for "fresh fish" in Luganda. It's impossibly impossible to pronounce. Chen-lahn-di-yuh is about as close as I come. All the female servers at the buffet break out laughing when I ask for it in Luganda.

1:00 - 1:30: Eat lunch. This is generally very, very good. home cooking. Tilapia (the local fish), rice with steamed carrots, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, pumpkin poshua (white root), and gravy. I've met a couple teachers eating outside in one of the six tables next to the old teachers college, which is now a secondary school. The past week an accountant named Andrew has sat with me. The meal costs $1.50 and is thoroughly a daily highlight.

1:30 - 2:30: Go home and check on the rain clouds, laudry, tasks to complete at the office, and my general energy level. Is it time for a nap? Midday naps coincide wonderfully with thunderstorms and hard rain. I know it sounds a bit lazy but after the meal, and with a lot of things accomplished already, why not?

3:00 - 4:30: Identify bullet points to go over with Dr. Okaka, make any phone calls to staff, return emails, and make copies for class if it's coming the next day. Usually, this can also be stretched into a longer nap, research for classroom activities, reading, or surfing the net.

4:30 - 5:30: Identify needs for dinner, social outings on the docket for the evening, and time to relax. Really good time to sit outside in the hammock, read novels, or walk over to oak tree and listen to the drummers and dancers practice. Sense a pattern in the afternoon?

Note: If I'm teaching that day (Wednesdays and Thursdays) I am usually sweating bullets, running to the copy center to make one copy for the student rep, going over lecture notes, and trying to keep my shirt dry. But only on those two days.

6:00 - 6:30: Walk thru campus, listening to i-pod, waving at students, enjoying the late afternoon African sunshine, avoiding boda-boda requests, finding my "boda boda guy," Tom, and ask him to take me somewhere new for dinner.

7:00 - 10:00: Either spent out for dinner and drinks or at home preparing something menial at home. It's pitch black by eight so if I'm out I've got to start to wonder how I'm getting home. If I'm far from home, I call my "regular taxi guy," Issa to pick me up in a real metered taxi.

10:00 - > Avoid malaria assassins.


  1. you only teach two days a week? What kind of life of luxury is this?!!?

  2. Looks good. Sounds like your host institution has taken a liking to you. Hope all is well.

  3. You did so much before 9:00 am. You got nuthin' but time my friend. Sweet, precious, ticking time.