Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas....Ugandan Style

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family near and far. Today we had joy of celebrating our first Christmas in Uganda. We contemplated traveling for the holidays, but ultimately decided we wanted to spend time in our community experiencing the Christmas all of our neighbors enjoy. 

Everyday we walk into town the street is littered with cows, pigs and goats…..not anymore.

First let’s go back a few days. On the 23rd, we decided we wanted to eat pork for dinner and Matt went early to our favorite pork joint to make an order. Not knowing Matt had already went, Ashley went a few hours later and tried to make an order only to find the pork was over. Luckily Matt had made an order because we later found out that that specific day in our town is the day to eat pork, after that day it is hard to find. Well, as anything is here, it’s never certain and when Matt went to pick up the order they told him that it was over and that there was only fat so his order was not made…..thank goodness for the hotel in town. We ended up paying double the price, but in the end we got our pork.

Now only a few mothers and piglets remain in the streets.

Now the 24th we were told is the day for the beef. We normally do not eat a lot of beef but since everyone else was we decided to too. Matt left early in the morning to make sure he was able to place an order, from the events of the day before he was nervous we would be left without any meat. As he approached the market he could literally smell it, and inside he found our market that is usually filled with women selling vegetable and fruit filled with cows, and we mean lots and lots of cows. Everywhere you turned you had to be careful not to step on a hid or fat that had been cut off. The boda men, the men who give rides on motorcycles, were even selling beef. And we know all the sellers were happy at the end of the day because when we went back later in the evening to buy green peppers they were all gone, every last piece of beef was bought. 

Needless to say, there are literally only two cows left on the street today.

So a Ugandan Christmas? We decided to start the morning with our traditional gift giving, only Ugandan style gifts. Highlights- Matt got an awesome coffee cup, so he can stop using and staining the plastic cups. Ashley got 4 chocolate bars…..yes 4. Around 2 we headed to Matt’s counterparts house were we had been invited to celebrate. When we arrived, as in Ugandan fashion, they greeted us and gave us the best seat in the house. The food was ready, thankfully because we were really hungry since we had only ate our sweets from our awesome bag stocking Ashley made. When they brought out the dishes filled with food we assumed it would be for all of us since there was so much. No, those dishes were only for us, they brought in their plates stacked high; literally people here eat a mound of food. So much delicious food; it was a great meal and we enjoyed discussing American Christmas traditions and Ugandan Traditions and sharing stories. Peace Corps Goal #3. 

Afterwards they escorted us back to town. We tried to tell them they didn’t need to but they insisted; the entire walk is only around 20 minutes or so. As we walked through town we saw all of our new friends we have made over the past few months. Ateenyi at the duka that Ashley loves to practice her Runyoro with and buy eggs from, baby Mary who is always playing outside of the shops and is the most adorable little thing, Ateenyi the cobbler who always has a smile on his face, the family at one of the tailor shops that we gotten to know well, the boda men who all know us by name and always ask how we are doing and all the children along the road who go out of their way to say “Hello Matthew/Hello Ashley”; this is our home and today made that even more apparent. In the few months that we have been here, we have met so many amazing people that we are happy to call our neighbors and friends.

So what do you do on Christmas night? You party of course. After we parted with our hosts, one of our friends and neighbors picked us up in his friend’s car and gave us a ride home. Perfect timing, the walk may not be long, but the dirt is horrible.  He asked us if we planned on joining the celebrations in town…..of course we said yes. We headed out to one of the hotels around 7 and when we arrived we were greeted with blasting Ugandan music and lots of people. We spent the night talking, eating with a few drinks and playing pool. It was a great way to end a great day.

So, here we are, it is now officially the 26th. We have celebrated our first Christmas in Uganda, and as I, Ashley, write this at 12:42 in the morning I can hear the blasting Ugandan music and commotion of the people coming from town as if it is right outside my house (Update 1- music is still going and it seems they have cranked up the volume 3:20 am. Update 2- music is still going 5:30 am.....and yet 4:24pm on the 26th the music still has not stopped) 

Merry Christmas!

Oh and we did have a tree

With Matt's Counterpart & Family at their home

Some of our Christmas Meal

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