Today Kathryn, Aryn and I got up, ate breakfast, and walked the 20-minute walk into town to the market. It was so colorful that it made me want to buy some paper and colored pencils, sit under a tree and draw. I didn’t today, but maybe at some point on my trip I’ll have enough free time to do that. We mostly walked around and browsed people’s goods…a lot of fruits and vegetables and clothing. The market is a very lively place, and it is full of small stands made of large sticks with fabric draped over the top to provide shade. There are men and women sitting in them, many with sleeping babies wrapped in cloth. I wanted to take a million pictures, but something about the people made me resist. They seem so natural there, doing what they do almost every day to make a living. It felt wrong to ask to take their pictures, because although the market was beautiful and interesting to me, to them they are doing nothing spectacular that deserves being captured in a photograph. They are just finding a way to get by. So I kept my camera in my purse and just admired them on my own instead.
After an hour or so of walking we got hungry and found a small restaurant. The service at restaurants in Uganda is very different from the service in the United States. In Uganda the waitstaff have no sense of urgency whatsoever when serving you. They are not always smiling and polite (except in the hotels) and they don’t hesitate to tell you that half of the items on the menu aren’t available, nor do they apologize for it. It was surprising at first that you had to ask for everything, including silverware, a menu, and a glass of water, but I’m used to it now. The service is also exceptionally slow and we’ve learned to reserve at least 2 hours of our time for a small lunch. With all of this in mind, we sat down to eat and ordered some traditional African food- cassava (a root vegetable similar to potatoes that is usually boiled) with g-nut sauce (a brown paste that is made from peanut-like ground nuts), chipatti (a soft African flatbread), mashed bananas, rice, and goat stew. We tried to order boyo, which is a green similar to spinach that is often wilted and fried in oil, but they didn’t have it at the time. They were also out of Stoney, a brand of extra strong ginger ale that is popular throughout Africa. I’m hoping to buy some and bring them home with me to share!
Here are some photos of our meal:
Goat stew – Dad, be proud!!!
After our lunch, we continued to walk for a little while before heading back to the hotel. Did I mention that we moved from the guesthouse we were staying at into a hotel?! We decided to make the switch because although the guesthouse was beautiful, it was too far out of town and we lacked privacy. The hotel was definitely a good choice and I have my own room with a nice view. Take a look.
And this is the view from my balcony.
Anyways, on our walk home from the market I saw something that struck me and I took that opportunity to snap a picture.
This is a photo of a nursery school in Lira. It looked like I would have expected a nursery school in Uganda to look like at first, but then I noticed that there was something lining the top of the wall surrounding it. I looked closer and realized that it was colored pieces of broken glass. The concept continues to confuse me and is more than a little disturbing so it seemed worth posting. Every day something surprises me here, whether they are good surprises or bad ones, but each of them is adding to my knowledge and understanding of the culture. I’m trying to take it all in, and am glad that I have two more weeks to process and absorb all that I’m experiencing.
One last note- My internet at the hotel is fabulous…good enough for Skype! My Skype name is just Sarah Schwie, so if you’re family or a friend feel free to add me.
That’s all for now, time for another episode of Grey’s Anatomy and a good night’s sleep.