Last week I complained too much. As a ‘munu’ (whitie? foreigner? I’m not quite sure of the precise translation) afloat in a foreign culture, it’s all too easy to be irritated, to judge, or to miss home.
But today, I’m reminding myself of the beauty and quirkiness of Lacor Center, Gulu Town. Actually, there are lots of little things I love about being here. There are lots of ‘bigger’ things too, but today I’ll stick to eight little that have become normal. So, in no particular order:
- It can probably be fixed. In New Zealand if my shoes broke it would cost more to take them to the cobbler (see! even cobbler is a weird word to us) than to get another pair from the op shop. Here there are shoe fixers galore who can work a long lasting miracle with their leather punchers and strong waxy twine. Same goes for phones, charcoal clothes, stoves, lights, you name it. Last year I bought a pair of second hand Birkenstocks for 4000 shillings (2 NZ dollars). After a year of wear the soles gave out. So I got them re-soled with pieces cut from old car tires:
- Tea has to have an ‘escort.’ Escort as in small tasty snack (roasted peanuts, chapatti, fried anything, bread bun etc), not an expensive rent-a-lady. Tea is never alone. This rule is rigorously followed.
- No fences. The Israeli-Palestine wall, the Berlin wall…walls are stupid aren’t they? But my neighborhood is a fence free environment. You can wander through anyone’s home, and they will probably invite you in for food.
- No lonely mums. On a related note, lack of fence barriers and close interaction between neighbors leads to mothers hanging out together and often sharing childcare between them! It makes so much sense.
- Even I can be funny. In my experience, Acholi people are always ready to laugh. There is a ‘low threshold’ for laughter. This is good news for people like me. In a public setting, coming up with an unexpected retort/response is a guaranteed way to generate laughter. For instance ‘you give me your bicycle’ can be replied with ‘Ok, I’ll exchange it for your motorbike.’ Or ‘you adopt my baby and take it to your country’ can be responded by picking up the baby and walking around the corner…It’s a formula I can work with!
- No fear of singing, no shame in dancing. Lets be honest, many New Zealanders have some sort of anxiety complex when it comes to dancing and singing. We no longer have a culture of singing together. But here people sing without shame (in tune or not) and I love it. Isaac, this is what you get for leaving photos of yourself on our camera:
7. Mangos are the new apples. In the peak of mango season, schools hold mango eating competitions because there are so many excess mangos about. Mangos are as abundant as apples…and in my opinion, mangos beat apples.
8. Sir Edmond. In NZ, Nick is allergic to most cats. But here he is not! And so we enjoy the affectionate company of Sir Edmond. Every night he climbs up our mosquito net and sleeps all night directly above us… here is the view from below:
When Nick bumps him in the night if he gets up, Edmond purrs.
What do you like about where you live?