Saturday, August 25, 2012

Someone is still in love with Paris, that someone is moi

After a really adventurous goodbye from Uganda (sleeping on the floor of a hospital my last night in Mbale, Holly's wallet getting stolen on the way to the airport, getting pulled over by cops on the way to the airport so they were giving us all kinds of crap and we were sure their unattractive corruption was going to make us miss our flight....etc etc etc  It was hard to process that I was really leaving a country that became my home this summer.  Two flights later, I landed in Paris.  My mind has struggled understanding what to think about what's happening.  One thing I'm positive about:  I have so greatly missed Paris.  It was good to be home.  Here is Kelsey and I at Notre Dame.
Le Centre Pompidou is one of my favorite spots in all of Paris. It's right where I used to go to school so it was one of our hangouts.  There's just something so energetic and lively about Paris.  It just gets under my skin in the very best way.
It was Kelseys first time going to Paris so I got to take her to all of the sites...well, the ones that we had time for.  Naturally we were not leaving Paris without seeing this beauty:
This is one of those photos that the only thing I can think to say is, "One thing led to another..."
Kels saw a sign for soft serve.  We have missed ice cream so much.  It's been 4 months since we've had soft serve and this stuff was incredible!  The fact that we were just chilling under the Eiffel Tower made everything even better.  Op, also we went shopping at H&M earlier that day.  I was hoping to degrungify the next day because I was a dirty mess coming straight from Africa. haha
Meandering around we decided to find a cute cafe and have ourselves some french food.  I got some delicious Onion soup that blew my mind.  Kels and I were both making audible sounds of satisfaction while eating our dinners.  The food contrast from Uganda to Paris is substantial.  haha Both are great in their own way, of course. :)
Aaaannnddd we obviously had to share a creme brule.  You guessed it, not gross.  Gosh Paris, just keep being wonderful.  Never fails.
Day 2:  Start things off with Sacre Coeur.  Sacre Coeur is quite possibly my favorite place in all of Paris.  The view is just absolutely incredible.  I walk down every street in awe.  I can't stop starring at the beautiful building, the sweet families, I notice smiles creep up on my face because I heard a something darling in french, etc.  It's definitely sensory overload, but it's lovely.
Here we are.  The beautiful cathedral. I literally could and did sit and stare at it for a while.  It's captivating.  We started walking past the cathedral on our way to see the street painters and we passed some street musicians that were incredible!
We both pulled up a curb and were sufficiently swooned.  I will post a video later but my goodness.  Ciccio on the left got up for part and started walking over to the curb.  I know my emotions and brain is everywhere right now with what I'm trying to process, but ....maybe my eyes started watering. haha I'm trying to get through reverse culture shock right now, I clearly can't handle attractive men and their beautiful voices.  There's a line! haha
Oh my heart I just love every detail of this zip code.  Including the random graffiti walking around town.
Back in flats!  Can you tell I've worn the same pair of shoes every single day for the past 4 months?  I have tiger stripe tan lines and I think it's hilarious. haha  And seriously, I even think the ground with freshly crushed leaves is beautiful scenery--the ground!  Swooned.  This must be what love feels like. haha
I told Kels that she should probably go to l'Opera Garnier.  It's the opera house that inspired the Phantom of the Opera.  It's so majestic and incredible ornate.
So....naturally when we're in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, we have photo shoots and act hilarious.  What else would we do?
When I lived here in 2007, I had a roommate named Macrae.  I'm fortunate enough to still consider her a dear friend--she's amazing.  Well back in 2007 her dad came over to Paris and invited me to go out to dinner with them.  He was so welcoming and it was fun to have a father figure, of sorts, when I was in Paris.

Fast forward 5 years and he had another business trip in Paris.  We somehow got in contact and he asked if I'd like to go to dinner again.  He is genuinely one of the kindest human beings I've ever met or heard of.  We met once, five years ago, but upon learning we were in the same city, we both met up for belated second meeting.  He took us to a darling french restaurant.  It was the cutest thing.  And he insisted Kelsey and his friend Johno try escargot.  Johnos face is classic.  He was dreading the french snail experience. haha I actually think they're really good.  Kelsey tried one but it wasn't her favorite thing in all the land.
Trying to get the snail out of his shell.  Is this real life?!?  I can't handle this.
They took us out to gelato afterward at probably the best gelateria in Paris.  They're both so funny and it was nice to have company introduce me to a new cute place.  They loaded us in a taxi afterward and Kelsey and I went home for the night with dopey grins on our face.  We fell asleep in Paris, had the most fun with a dear friend that I've only met once, were swooned to death by attractive musicians, and are clean for the first time in 4 months. haha
I'm still working on processing leaving Uganda.  But I will be honest, being in Paris again has been an absolute dream.  There is something about this place that does something to me.  I am completely in love with it.  My steps take a different beat, I sit on the metro fascinated and happy with all of the diversity and culture, something just comes alive in me when I'm here.  I am genuinely the luckiest girl in the world.  I can't believe I've called Paris home at one point in my life.  It still is, for me, in a lot of ways.  I can't believe I lived in Africa!!  It's been my dream since I was in 7th grade.  And I can't believe I got to see Paris again.  I'm so happy.  I can't believe any of this is real.  I have more Paris and obviously Uganda to post about but my flight is going to leave soon so I should probably go.  I love my life.  Holy smokes!  haha  See you guys soon,  Mals

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm leaving on a jet plane.

I've been meaning to blog for a very long time now.  Soo much has happened.  I still need to tell you about the circumcision festival, our trip to the zoo, when we got robbed, hiking Wenale again, all of the goodbyes and wrap up this experience.  I was prepared to write a blog last night but...then my friend Cami got malaria and has been in the hospital with an IV all day.  So we took our last dinner to the hospital and ate with her there.  Then Rebecca and I slept on the floor of the hospital in the room with Cami.  It was not how I'd originally seen my last night in Mbale going but there was something perfect about it somehow.  I now have to pack in the next few hours, I'm sleeping in Jinja and then tomorrow (Wednesday) I continue to Kampala and then Entebbe where my flight leaves Uganda.  Here's one of the pics from the zoo.  Sam an I got to chill with this camel named Jennifer.
I'll also need to write about my last trip to the village.  They had a huge party for us.  Thank you speeches, they planted trees in our honor, we painted the kids faces, made costumes out of banana leaves, had a dance party and a Thanksgiving feast--Ugandan style (eating with our hands).  It was not awesome having to say goodbye to Damalie.  I sure love that girl.  It's hard to process that I'll probably never see her again.  Ugh.  Such a darling litte lady.
I will write a couple of blogs from home when I'll have better internet and a little more time to update on the last couple of weeks.  But for now, I have to pack.  My flight leaves tomorrow night and then I have a few days in Paris.  I can't wait to go back and be there again.  I lived there in 2007 and it was life changing.  I can't wait to have some time there again.  I'll be home Sunday.  I'm still not able to process that I'm leaving Uganda.  But while I'm obviously really sad to leave, it will be good to be back.  I'm excited to see everyone.  Thank you for sharing this experience with me.  Thanks for reading my random blogs and your sweet comments, e-mails and facebook messages.  I love you guys very much and am so thankful to have the family and friends that I have.  You're the best and I'm seriously the luckiest girl in the world.  I'll post more when I get home.  See you on Sunday!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cockroach, dance instruction, Ayub

I love my life.  I l-o-v-e it!  Because time is running out, I'm trying to soak up any and every detail that makes my current life what it is.

My morning jogs are filled with leaping over pot holes, smooshed frogs, and dodging roaming cows.  Also, little children will often start running with us on their way to school.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the D...everyone gets the D's not big news and we all talk openly about our bowel functions like nbd.  Anywho, oh my way to the bathroom I saw a cockroach scampering around.  We're talking Men In Black status.  Didn't really even phase me.  I just realized this morning I should have been more freaked out.  Probably because I was preoccupied with the D.  Seriously, I'll have to get used the fact that people don't just talk openly about that stuff at home.

We were at lunch at an Indian restaurant and after a while of eating our food, Rebecca says, "You guys, I just found a black hair in my soup."  Samantha then says, "Yeah, I found one in mine too."  Then I add, "Yeah, I found one in mine a while ago too."  Yes, my friends, three of us found hairs in our food and we're just so used to situations like that that we don't tell anyone and just go forward.  Hilarious and gross and sad.

We taught leadership classes at St. Stephens today.  We usually start class with a fun activity to get everyone loosened up and comfortable with each other.  So today...we taught them the Boot Scoot'n "Move Like Jagger" by Maroon 5.  Hilarious.  They loved it and we were all dying that we put that dance to that song.  

I legitimately had a man pat be on the bottom after the circumcision festival and when I turned around to scowl at him he just smiled, nodded and gave a thumbs up sign.  Not okay.  Later that day I was on a boda and we were driving through a big crowd and a man legitimately slid his hand up my thigh.  I was just inhaling about to put the chap in his place when I hear Cami on the boda behind me yell, "Don't touch her!"  haha I felt like I had a bodyguard and a fairy god mother at the same time.

Whenever I hold wee babies around here, they're fascinated by white people body hair--namely, arm hair.  Little kids are always pulling on my arm hair...not like I even have that much...but they don't have any so they look at it in wonder.  

While up at St. Stephens, my friends were teaching me some phrases in Lugisu and...I was teaching them Italian.  I got some of it on film because it's darling.  High school boys asking me how to say, "You're the best" in Italian.  Are we kidding right now?  Darling.  I wish I was a full-time teacher at that school because I am going to be sincerely upset when I have to leave them.  

I took another tennis lesson from Ayub.  My friend Alexis took pics.  I'll have to post them later because I'm super tired.  He's darling.  He played in the Ugandan open and he told me that he could have played in the Olympics but he didn't want to leave his sister.  She's all the family he has.  I love playing with him.  My favorite critique?  When I flat out miss the ball when I swing and he says in his cute little accent, "Watch the ball."  haha Right.  Why didn't I think of that?  haha Love.

Better yet, Ayub came over for dinner and after we were listening to music together and...I legitimately taught him how to dougie. haha One of my favorite moments.  Followed by him singing "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion to myself, Alexis, Holly and Rebecca.

Well I'm super sleepykins.  I get to go to the village tomorrow for a Dental Camp.  Hopefully I get to see sweet little Damalie.  I have pictures and stories to tell when I get back.  Thanks for the pearls of wisdom about staying in Utah or moving to DC.  I love you guys.  And you're right.  The comfort zone is lame.  I'm shooting for DC.  Finishing my resume revamp and then I've got a lot of applying to do and connections to make.  Love you.  Til next post!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Conversations you may or may not want in on

I've recorded some recent conversations that I've found funny because...I wouldn't be having them anywhere else but here. haha 

Me:  Oh golly, I’m feeling quite nauseous
Kara:  Maybe you’re pregnant
Me:  Well on the upside, if I am pregnant, chances are good that it’s with a halvsie baby.  

Alexis:  you got food poisoning and it changed your life?
 (That's actually true.  Maybe some time I'll tell you about the ebola scare that was actually just food poisoning.) haha

Me:  you guys, what do we call those big fluffy blankets that we put on beds?
Kelsey:  Comforters?
Me: Oh yeah!  Do you guys remember those?!
I’m using a Kenyan airways blanket.  I've forgotten details about beds at home apparently.

Holly:  We have to wear pants to the circumcision festival 
Me:  Why?
Holly:  Because the men will be so drunk they might pull our skirts down.

Me:  You guys!  We literally just saw people getting tear gassed at a circumcision festival.  This is our life right now!

Yes, I need to write a blog post about the circumcision festival.  It was craziness.  Look forward to that post! haha

So....I come home in 3 weeks.  I'm a little bit freaking out.  I've been pondering staying in Utah or moving to Washington DC.  I would love to move to the east coast, find a job and start a new chapter of my life--a new adventure.  But yeah, I'm pretty terrified of the whole "I have a bachelors degree in Sociology, is that enough to sustain me in a place like DC?"  Unknown.  Staying in Utah would be safe because that's where all of my friends and family are.  But I don't really have connections for work in either place.  I dunno.  If you have pearls of wisdom, there's a blonde lassy in Uganda that wouldn't mind hearing them.  Love you all! 

Here's a little delight from Elder Holland because I find his every word incredible and I just really believe in what he's saying.  Here 'goes:

"The tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Getting our filter on--Implementing water filters!

Thanks to our amazing friends and family back home, we were able to raise enough money to implement 29 water filters in the Namatala slum.  Over 2,000 people will now have access to clean water.  It's incredible.  I had the opportunity to go teach a community about the importance of sanitation and ask if they'd be interested in receiving a water filter.

They were buying their water from one of two different water spouts in the slum that contains dirty water and is owned by a man in the slum.  So they're paying money for water that's not even clean.  In order to clean in, they'd either have to buy tablets to put in it or buy charcoal to heat up the water so that it all of the goods that make them sick.  When I was teaching this group, they said the tablets and charcoal are expensive so they don't usually treat their water.  For those keeping tabs:  Expensive purification methods=dirty water=the people get sick.  

I told them we'd be willing to help them obtain clean water if they were interested.  (Obvious yes.)  The only thing we ask from them is that each family in the neighborhood contribute approximately 500 shillings (approx less than 25 cents) or whatever they can to pay for the water drum.  Some people paid more than 500 shillings, some people paid 2,000.  We take whatever they can contribute and we pay for the difference for the water drum.  The reason we have them pay a little for the drum is so they feel some sense of ownership over it.  They'll feel a responsibility to take care of it.  Also, no one else in the slum can take it from them because it's not a hand out from the white people, they own it.

The cool thing about the water filters is you can put ANY water in and it will get filtered.  They can get water from a dirty stream, rain water, etc.  Once I explained that they don't even have to boil the water before they put it through the filter, they started clapping, smiling and thanking me.  Stella got a huge grin on her face and thanked me over and over again.  Can you imagine having to make the decision of whether or not you pay for the materials to treat your water or to buy food?  They now don't have to spend any money on treating their water.  I can't believe that I get to push my cup against a lever on my fridge at home and crystal clear water comes out.  The people here are always sick because the water is so filthy and too expensive to clean.  It was a cool experience being able to bring them something that I absolutely took for granted that they ooze with gratitude for the opportunity to have clean water.  Amazing.

I went with my friend Shadrach from Child of Hope and we brought the water drum and water filter, showed them how to put it together and clean it.  This is Elizabeth and her darling son Silas.  Elizabeth is one of the women that's in the beading group.  She's darling.  She lives in the neighborhood that's getting a filter.  Here's a pic of her practicing putting the filter on.

Here's Shadrach.  He filled up a cup of the filtered water and had them all taste it.  Elizabeth drank it and started clapping with a big grin on her face.  My mind was blown.  She was so happy and filled with gratitude for being able to sick water that wouldn't get her or her family sick.  All of the women there that we were teaching were so grateful and attentive in learning how to take care of the water filter.

Here's the whole crew from the second lesson.  Shadrach, Elizabeth, my own self, Stella...I don't know who red shirted lady is, but Florence is in green.  I'll be making a follow-up visit to see how it's working and see if they have any questions on how to use it or keep it clean.

Another moment that they all started clapping was when they learned that the filter lasts for 10 years.  If they take care of it and clean it, they'll have clean water for 10 years.  I love the people in Namatala.  They're amazing and so inspiring to me.  They were so thankful for the opportunity to have clean water.  I'm glad I was able to be there, meet them and play a small role in bringing them something that will greatly benefit their lives.  I love my life.  I'm so happy to be here...even if it's just 3 more weeks.  Eek!