Cooking and Mingling in Uganda

So as you all know, I love to cook. In Ireland I make dinner almost every night and enjoy trying new foods. Well this week Solomon taught me how to make pans, or burahanda. They are essentially banana pancakes. You can use regular bananas but there are a sweet version here in Uganda that actually tastes like someone added sugar to it. You mash up the bananas, and add sugar and casava or wheat flour until it becomes a dough like bread, not cake. Then you press it flat onto a board and use a cup or glass to cut out circles of it. Then you deep fry it! Amazing. I think the healthier me in Ireland and the US will be using non-fat butter to just make a pancake but these people walk probably 10-15km a day so I dont think oil is an issue. So I sat down with afternoon tea and pans. Amandazi is the fried dough version, where you add water and less flour to make it like cake batter and then drop it in balls into the oil. The guys at my camp kept saying what is the Muzungu doing in the kitchen!! Oh dont burn yourself. Be careful!! I had to keep telling them, guys Im white, but Im human too. They have hot oil in Ireland too. Then I told them to eat some when we were done, and they were confused. They thought I was going to eat all 25 of them. I said No! I made them for everyone!

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DSCN9077 DSCN9079DSCN9083I met a woman here named Barbara. She and her husband are from Texas. They are christians working with the Batwa people as part of a missionary. The Batwa people are the same as the pygmys that you probably heard of but Batwa is the local name. I dont have any pictures of them because I feel like its rude to photograph them. I havent done any tourist thing with them because it looks pretty fake and cheap at this point. They act one way with tourists to get money. So anyway, Barbara. She is in her 60s, as well as her husband. They have lived in the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda. This time in Uganda will be three years and they have done one so far. Every time we see each other on the road we stop to talk. So she invited me to have coffee with her at her house. Real coffee by the way. Not the instant coffee I have been drinking. I was excited because I thought I would learn something from this woman. She spent almost 10 years in the Congo! What I learned though, was shes not as tolerant as I expected. I know I am only hear for a short period so I cant compare but I expected a woman who could handle the lack of responsibility, motivation and technology this place has sometimes. Let me give an example. CTPH, my organization, needed fecal samples from the southern gorilla groups. An email was sent and no samples were taken. Its not that these rangers dont know how to take samples, or that they didnt read the email. Its because no one specific person was asked. No one took the initiative to do it because they werent explicitly told to. They gladly will do whatever job you tell them to but it needs to be specific. So she was basically venting to me about how she is unhappy and doesnt feel like she has enough work and isnt making progress. One of the things I notice here and even a little in Ireland, is that relationships are maintained better. People take time out of the day to eat lunch together or sit and talk more whereas in the US I think all we do is work. The extreme though, is that people here in Uganda will work on their friendships more than their actual occupation. When you drive through Bwindi, many people are sitting outside and chatting. They did some work that day but they are also mingling. There is a line between Mingling and being lazy, and I think that Barbara is having trouble finding it. I work at least 3 hours every day in the lab, and then choose to either work more or mingle based on my work load. Mingling is good to a certain extent. I have even been able to mingle with the one dog I have found here!!!

Two weeks left guys!

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