Friday, July 20, 2012

Breaking my own rules


The seminarians are currently all on break, and several of them are staying at Ngora Parish while they relax and prepare for their next term.  We’ve been commonly enjoying evening discussions about life, religion, astronomy, and whatever else pops up. I can put on my shorts, and take a last look at the previous discussions’ unanswerables so that we can start where we dropped off.  The conversations are especially interesting when the parish priest joins in, who is by nature extremely curious and continually playing devil’s advocate (irony).  Anyway, these conversations are always a treat to me; the Vin-diagram of knowledge comparison between a 25 year old American and a group of 20-40 year old Catholic, Ugandan Seminarians and Priests would tell you why.  I’ll talk to them about the stars, about costs of living abroad, about different foods and the ways people eat.  They’ll talk to me about magic worshipping, country stereotypes, and the wars that at one point were destroying their lives.  By the end of the night, I’ll have 5-20 questions that I have to look up.  These nights are sometimes the only thing I’m looking forward to. 

Last night, the seminarians were bummed because the local ajon lady didn’t have but ¼ of a jerrycan of local brew.  This would last for probably 30 minutes for our group, which doesn’t work for the usual 2 hours we are outside.
People are only known by one of their names.  85% of people in my village know me strictly as “Opolot.”  Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap, stemming from one of the most dense countries in the world as well as only having about 15 different tribal names.  Thus, many people’s names adapts completely to the job they are working.  “Nakapolon ko Ajon” is the name we all use for the lady who makes the ajon.  There are people that I’ve known my two years, and have good relationships with, who I call “askari” (literally-security guard) or “Honourable” (someone who works in the district). 

So anyway, I offered to buy everyone who was around beers for the night.  For 10 bucks I bought enough beer to serve 7 different people for the night.  The boys were pretty pumped; they very rarely get to taste actual bottled beer (although, I think in all honesty they would admit to liking Ajon more.  Drinking from a bottle is a class thing more than anything else), much less the Good kind (Eagle is crap beer at 6.5% that is the “villager’s beer,” as opposed to more expensive, less alcoholic bottles like NILE, CLUB, and BELL). 
As a rule, I neverrrrrrr submit to paying for items, much less offer to pay for a whole night’s rounds without provocation.  Even more, I brought out my mosquito repellant (worth its weight in gold to me, so much that I use it no more than once a week as a treat to myself) for everyone to use, AND my computer to play some of my music.  Not only was I possibly being ostentatious with money, but I was sharing my limited resources and showing off a brand new computer that I’d bought in my previous trip to America. 

It’s not something I’ll make a habit of, but letting down my guard in this way with some of my best friends in country was really refreshing.  I get so worried about not being THAT volunteer, that I realize I lose my ability (on some small scale) to have fun with people I genuinely enjoy being around.  After all, each and every one of these seminarians have invited me to their homes where we’ve shared food and drinks in their own home.  It’s nice to know that I can make gestures of appreciation as well.  Besides, talking about southern culture is much easier when you’ve got “wagon wheel” playing in the background.  

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