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.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

(Sorry I have no photos on this post. I forgot to bring my camera)

I had to give a final on Thanksgiving. Not that anyone here knew that it was Thanksgiving, but still...a little weird. It was pouring down African rain too. It was the kind of rain a Sunkist Soda ad might start with before a couple of bikini-clad teens go jumping off a tire swing into a lake. Good vibrations...

I was well aware our exam's 8 a.m. start time meant I needed to get on things by 7:30. I had to confirm my boss had all the test booklets and question sheets copied. No and yes to those inquiries. The test booklets were locked in the dean's office, which was of course locked until 7:58, when he casually entered the Faculty of Arts Building parking lot in his Toyota Corona. Mmm...Corona. Four lecturers surrounded him immediately. Our exam room was locked, too, so I ran over to the main building to tell the custodian to open the door. The students were all shivering and wet by the time we got them into the Music Room. Yes, our final was in the Music Room. Funnily enough, it had no piano or any other semblance of musical ambiance whatsoever. In fact, the acoustics were terrible. It was a lot like an airport hangar with a hundred wooden desks in place of an Airbus jet. And students. And me.

Somehow we got all the exams passed out and started by 8:03. The three hour test endured two thunderstorms, three power outages, and an officious university representative checking exam cards (these denote whether a student has paid tuition for the semester or not). My job was to answer questions, update the time, and pace feverishly until it was time to collect the tests. (Note to self: only one cup of coffee before idly sitting for three-hour stretches.)

After collecting the exams, I signed out for them in the department offices, went back home, and began grading them furiously, hoping to get through ten fifteen essays before early afternoon (all in all, there will be 198 to grade before my semester is complete).

At three forty-five, I left campus and drove across Kampala to my contact at the embassy's house for Thanksgiving dinner. She and husband live in quiet, gated home on the outskirts of the capital, replete with security, tiled floors, and a flat screen TV showing American sports. I was pretty much in heaven.

We sat down to eat almost immediately, graciously escorted by our two hosts to seats surrounded by a wonderful spread of food. It was pretty much like any thanksgiving dinner I had sat down to in the U.S., which, when I consider most of my meals in Uganda, is pretty remarkable. How does one find stuffing in Kampala? How about cranberry sauce? Pumpkin pie? Real whip cream??
The answers lie somewhere between clout and creativity. A lot of embassy staff order food online that is shipped directly from warehouse to Kampala. Thus, they have ingredients necessary to cook like a king for pigs like me.


Our table consisted of six marines, two wives, two children, one American contractor, me, and two dogs. Everything was amazing. Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread rolls, gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, real whip cream, a Reese's Pieces crusted thing. Fricking delicioso!

After another rainstorm, a brief cigar break for the marines (I later learned they were all outside smoking stogies in a covered gazebo, although I guessed they were busy doing timed chin ups in the rain, a la "G.I. Jane").

The first game of the day started at approximately 8:30 pm in Uganda. An eleven hour difference from home. Despite the creepy AFN commercials full of military warnings, updates, and melodramatic security re-enactments, watching a live football telecast on Thanksgiving night was pretty much the same experience. Lots of dudes cracking jokes, yelling at the TV, getting up for bathroom breaks, raiding the fridge....good times.

Now it's on to the home stretch, where I'll lock myself in my office (as I am now) and focus on red pens and grammar till the pain is over.

1 comment:

  1. I Love reading your blog$! Your journey has been amazing. God Bless you & I look forward to the next chapter of your life journey...