Monday, November 22, 2010

It's My Life

So, they're been no big events going on here lately, but my mom tells me that even the little things of everyday life are interesting (of course she's my mom, and for reasons I don't think I will be able to comprehend unless I have kids, she finds my every move "interesting" :) , so I guess I'll share. Although I've been getting used to the way of life here, it's interesting to reflect on the small aspects of life and think about how different they are from home.

Even simple stuff , like baking cookies, is an adventure here. Last week, I, along with a couple of friends, attempted to bake cookies to take to the kids at Off-Tu Children's Centre. The original recipe we found was for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Well, those ingredients aren't really available here, so we had to make some substitutions.  First we had to use all white sugar instead of brown sugar, not too bad. Next, every store in town was completely out of chocolate, so we decided to nix the chocolate and go for straight peanut butter cookies. That shouldn't matter, right? Regular peanut butter is available here, but we, thinking we were smart, thought we could use Ugandan "gnut paste with special added sim-sim", which is much cheaper, since it would be mixed in, and no one would be able to tell the difference. Ok, that one was a big mistake. Our recipe called for baking soda, but we can only get baking powder here. After googling a substitute between the two, and the majority of our hits being "there is absolutely no substitute for baking soda" (that was just not going to cut it) or "combine baking powder with cream of tartar to make a baking soda substitute" (honestly, if I can't get ahold of baking soda, you expect me to be able to get cream of tartar?) we found a website that suggested using three times as much baking powder as baking soda for a substitute. So that's what we did.  I forgot to mention that there were oats in these cookies. So when we put the dough in the fridge (on a pizza plate, of course!) it reminded me of my mom's uncooked meatloaf. The actual baking was an escapade in and of itself. I've never before seen cookies get lighter in color as they bake! Ok, so they wouldn't pass for American cookies, but they were super sweet, and the kids LOVED them.

Here's something else you wouldn't think of: In Uganda, primary schools take a long break at Christmastime, equivalent to our summer break in the U.S. For my kids at Off-Tu, Friday was their last day of school. They'll come back in February and will start a new school year at that point. For the last day of school, Off-Tu had a graduation ceremony for Top Class (our equivalent of kindergarten) with all the little 5 year olds wore caps and gowns. It was an all day event-- each grade level did songs and readings, and various administrators and teachers made speeches. My host mom from my homestay in Mukono runs a primary school, so I attended their Top graduation as well. Off-Tu puts a huge stress on kids learning English, so their program was entirely in English, while Mother's Care's program was in Luganda. At the end of each of these,we had cake. Cake is a huge deal here: it's only for super-special occasions; everybody watches as about 20 honored people try to hold the knife together and cut the cake. Then they cut it into SUPER small pieces. Everyone gets a bite-size piece, but they all say it's so much and that they cannot each that much sweetness (I have yet to understand this reasoning since most Ugandans use about 3 tablespoons of sugar in a 6 oz. cup of tea).  

This weekend I went with one of the USP staff members and visited a church in Kampala. It was awesome! It was a church with people from a mixture of many cultures, but with an American pastor. I felt like I actually went to church for the first time in three months. On the way back, we stopped at a vegetable market, where I bought a head of broccoli. That was also AMAZING!

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