May 28th 2015
Since my last two submissions have been more like essays than blog posts, I decided to take mercy on you this time and write something a bit lighter. So instead of pieces of academic writing, this blog post is more of a series of short stories. You’re welcome.
Here they are:
The Frenchy’s of Kampala
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gained their fame through their catchy song entitled ‘Thrift Shop’ (sorry to start the story this way, but I had to). Ever since then, instead of crinkling their noses as they pass their local Salvation Army, every teenager in North America bursts into the chorus of ‘Thrift Shop’ instead. Well not to brag, but I’m proud to say that I was thrift shopping long before Macklemore made it cool. And to that end, I seriously question whether he still buys his clothes for a matter of cents. But that’s beside the point. Ever since I realized that clothing could consist of more than track pants and skater shoes, thrift shopping has been the biggest contributor to my wardrobe. In Jr High School the highlight of the year was when my mom would take my best friends and I on our annual road trip to Frenchy’s (a local chain of thrift stores that run along the South Shore of Nova Scotia). We would spend hours sifting through huge mounds of slightly ratty clothes, finally emerging victorious with a few gems. To this day I make a point of stopping at every thrift store I go by (often testing the patience of my boyfriend, whose sneezes from the dust let me know when it’s time to go).
So when I arrived in Uganda I was worried that my thrift shopping addiction would go unfulfilled. But like any good junky I am resourceful; it took me less than a week to find a new supplier. Two days after our arrival we were driving through the city and passed what looked like an explosion of colour on the side of the road. Temporary stalls had been erected amidst the dust and filled with everything from tomatoes to toiletries. We craned our necks to try to take it all in, but before we knew it the car had sped by, leaving the market in the dust. Luckily though, our driver informed us that the market would be there every Friday. So last week after work we hopped on a boda and were deposited in the middle of the chaos. Our senses were instantly overloaded: vendors yelling, radios blaring, the smell of grease from food stalls filling our nostrils, and piles of clothing and trinkets as far as the eye could see. We stumbled wide-eyed through the madness, with vendors on all sides yelling “sister, sister!” and “mzungu!”. We shouldered our way to a food stall and ordered rolex’s, which are essentially omelets wrapped in greasy chapattis. Delicious.
From there we strolled through the crowded stalls until we reached one that looked particularly promising. But as soon as we dug our hands into the heaps of clothing they were pulled away and thrown into an adjacent pile. At first we were taken aback, but then we realized that the vendors had moved them so that they could throw them one by one into our outstretched arms, making sure we saw them all. As they threw article after article into the air they starting singing, and the vendors at the nearby stalls quickly joined in. It was a magical moment, for lack of a better word: clothing flying, women laughing as they squabbled over articles, and joyous singing rising from all around. By the end of it Shelby and I were giddy, and we headed back to our boda driver with our helmets stuffed with new treasures. Needless to say, from now on we have a standing Friday afternoon date it the midst of the market.
A Tall Tail
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Kampala’s tropical climate helps breed a wide range of critters, many of which have taken residence in our apartment (despite our many attempts to scare them away with Raid). The cutest of these creatures are the geckos who scurry along the walls every few days. On Tuesday we were sitting down to eat dinner when a rather large specimen sauntered his way towards my bedroom. We continued to eat, casting a casual glance at our new friend every once in a while. It wasn’t until he ran into my room that we decided to track him down and put him outside. Unfortunately for us he was a sneaky little bugger who found a hiding spot under my shorts, then the couch, and finally the fridge. We were game for the chase though, so with a bowl in his hand Jeremy coaxed the gecko out from under the fridge. With victory in sight, I ran to grab the keys to the balcony to let the gecko out into the wild. But as I was searching for the keys I heard Jeremy yelling from my room: “OH MY GOD, HIS TAIL! I CUT OFF HIS TAIL! IT’S STILL MOVINGGGGG!!” Shelby and I rushed back into the room to see that yes, the little critter’s tail had in fact come off when Jeremy had captured him under the bowl.
We were frozen for a moment in shock. The gecko was breathing heavily in the corner, but his tail was writhing around on the floor a good few feet away from its owner. It had a life of it’s own! Of course Jeremy and I instantly lost our heads and started babbling and trying to make sense of the situation. To our surprise, Shelby – who has a fear of insects – calmly approached the gecko with the bowl, scooped it up and placed it gently outside, all the while speaking soothingly to it. In the time that it took her to get him outside Jeremy and I regained our composure and set to clearing up the now lifeless tail. Although we know that the gecko’s tail will regenerate and he will be fine, I think we’re all still a bit shell shocked and will probably be giving all future geckos we see a wide birth. We’ve done enough harm for the time being.
And finally to end this post, here’s a picture from mine and Jeremy’s attempt to do our laundry. I never understood the usefulness of a washboard until now. And yes, the water is actually that dirty thanks to the infamous Kampala dust.