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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Africa is Where the 80's Came to Die

Although Jessica may have been the one who said it, I don't disagree with the statement.

Thursday was another day spent in town, and since we weren't supposed to go back into the field until Friday, we had the chance to hang around for the much acclaimed Kisoro market day. Market day is a biweekly event where merchants stream across the border from Congo in multitudes to try and sell all their crap for higher prices in Uganda.

The market itself is located on the far edge of town, and when in full swing, becomes a maze of people selling all sorts of crap like you couldn't believe. You know all those good will donations that you are making back in North America? Well, they're selling them here to anyone with a pulse and a roaming eye for irrelevance. I eluded to the local dress code in a previous post, and in particular to the prevalence of neon windbreakers. Well it appears that as we have started cleaning the 80's clothing out of our deepest, darkest storage areas, impoverished Africans are selling them to slightly less impoverished Africans to keep the decade alive - a mere 30 years later.

Tacky bowling shirts, tees from Superbowl twenty through thirty five and fine dress apparel are handily available - one traveler even managed to get his hands on an oversize 'Mountain Search and Rescue jacket" right from the heart of the United States. When I first got here and walked through the less transitory markets, I wondered how some of this stuff got here, but this market took it to a whole other level.

Meanwhile, back in the forest... Even though Wednesday was Darja's day to go into the woods, she was sick, and as a result unable to make it. We hadn't planned to be up there as we figured she would go, and went into Kisoro Tuesday night, resulting in none of us entering the woods with the standard tracker, ranger, and field assistant. It is no surprise then that they saw no less than 39 monkeys, 10 water buffalo, a viper, a rare three horned chameleon and a full grown silver back gorilla that had come up from the Congo. Conversely, Friday morning we saw about eight monkeys in 4 hours. Ha, ha, ha.

Thursday night was a lively affair, featuring us going to a local 'restaurant' where we got some of the best pork ever. Pig around here is pretty rare and as a result there isn't a lot of game in town. There is one place however that cooks a pig a day (if they can get it), and by god they do it right. We went at about three, on our way to market, and reserved five kilos to be shared among the six of us (2 Brits, our Slovenian coworker, and a Swede along with Jess and myself). At eight, we came back for the feast. They spend the majority of the afternoon smoking the pig, and then when it is time to eat, they quickly boil then fry it. The end result is some of the best pork I've ever tasted.

Served on a large metal tray, the food is brought out among a greasy array of potatoes and cabbage and requires you dig into the plate with your hands as if it were some kind of medieval feast. When we combined this with the altitude and strong Ugandan beer, it was the precursor to a great, but messy, night. After food we headed to one of the local div-, er, clubs and rounded out our night with more beer and dancing. Unfortunately we paid for this the next morning. As we needed to get back up to the park for 7:30, our punishment was bodha bodhas at dawn.

Now my first bodha bodha ride was less than savory, and featured me getting both slapped by a local and falling off (not related incidents) - but at least that time it was downhill, I wasn't slightly hungover or awake at an ungodly hour. True to form, about ten minutes into the cold morning ride my bodha's tire got a puncture. Right? RIGHT? Unfortunately for Jessica, it meant I had to share hers and I think it may have been the worst ride of her life. She was already a wreck and I think this ride was the finisher - by the time we hit the woods she was a zombie.

After the field, and an afternoon of sorta sleeping, we actually decided to head back into town. Although this meant another ride on those hellish motorcycle taxis, it went a lot smoother. Since it was mostly down hill, and I seemed to have lucked into getting a big one, the ride was smooth and uneventful. Furthermore, I picked up this horrid pseudo-backpack that has the footy player Ronaldo on it - making the carrying of my stuff on the bike a dream.

Friday was another sloppy evening, as it was a party to say goodbye to one of the long time volunteers here. I mentioned briefly before that there was a Swede. Sam, who had been volunteering here for seven months, was helping to set up a micro loan program for local start up projects. Seven months is a long time, very impressive.

Jess and I tried to get up for the boda bodas again, but as 6:30 came and went, the idea of riding up the hill to spend 5 hours in the forest became less and less appealing. As a result I was sent out to essentially tell the taxis to bugger off (with a little cash incentive to make parting easier). I do believe that we will try again tonight to make the trip up, although I do find it rather hard to ever get enthused for bumpy, uncomfortable motor cycle torture. It is a special kind of rape, because once they're done assaulting you, they have the gall to ask for money.

Thanks for reading,

Much Love,


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