18 June 2011

Home and Garden Dan-nel

See what I did there?

Now see what I'm doing here.

This is my house, freshly painted, by me, a couple weeks ago. The first two are my living room / kitchen. The papyrus mat on the left wall is covering up a big metal door that went into the other half of the building which is either someone else' house or an office of a primary school -- I've heard both and don't know which one is true. But the metal doors were ugly to look at and a little too prison-y feeling, so the papyrus looks a little nicer. The map of Africa is from a 1950 National Geographic which is awesome but also makes me a little sad that I won't be able to go to places like Upper Volta and Bechuanaland. Then the third picture is my bedroom, again covering up a prison-style metal door. Please ignore all the unfolded laundry. Some of it is clean, some isn't, but either way I usually give it a smell-test before determining if something's ok to wear for a third time between washings. Then there's my bike and the blue color that I painted the window-walls in both of the rooms. And then there's the pictures of some of those pretty faces I left in the States. It's nice to have everything finally done, especially since it took six months to get all of this finished.

And this is my garden. It's a little bit hard to tell the mound of dirt from the rest of the dirt, but it's there. If you look at it from the top down, the whole in the middle -- there's no dirt in the middle of those sticks; that's where the compost goes -- and the little walkway in front make a keyhole shape, hence the name. Next time, I'll do a little better on the construction of the compost pit in the middle. The sticks are longer than they need to be and come together too much at the top, but, other than that, it's looking pretty good. I just planted a week ago, last Saturday, so not a whole lot is coming up yet, but the second picture is the two little cucumber plants that have sprouted nicely. There are also about six or seven beanstalks coming up so far, but for the lettuce and carrots that I planted, I'm having a hard time telling, right now, what are vegetables and what are weeds, so we'll see. The thorns that I put around it, I didn't get those out there until four days after I'd planted the seeds, and so I'm hoping the chickens didn't come and nom on all of my seeds. I also tried to follow the planting instructions on the seed packets, but I didn't know what things like 'sow thinly' meant, so I ended up going with the 'put a bunch of seeds everywhere and hope things grow' approach. Our rain has been less than consistent lately, too, so there are days where the entire garden is drenched and days where, at least on the surface, the soil is totally dry and cracked and rock-hard. So, green thumbs crossed. The last picture is part of the rest of The Nursery, what my org calls the field. All of that used to be long, pretty grass to lie in, and now, unfortunately, it's a buncha dirt. But I'm hoping that I can help plant there next planting season and we can try to do some biointensive techniques that I've been reading about in a manual I got from the Peace Corps office. But, in the distance there, is the big rock that marks the beginning of town, the one that I was on top of the last time I posted the pictures of town. So that's all that.

I've gotten some pretty good reactions towards my garden from people in town, too, which has been fun. A couple secondary school boys who'd come to help me cut the branches for the middle came back a few days later. I was just finishing up and getting ready to plant the next day, and they came up and said, Daniel! What is this you have made? I told them it was a garden. Sure?, one of them said, in the traditional high-pitched Ugandan-English exclamation of disbelief. Pretty sure, yeah, I said, and explained how it was supposed to work. Eh, one of them said, shaking his head in wonder, I have never seen such technology before in my life! Technology isn't quite the word I'd use to describe a pile of dirt and some sticks, but I laughed. It made me feel like I was building an alien spacecraft out in the field.

When I went into work a couple days after finishing, my supervisor said, Danieli, what is that you have made in the nursery? I told her that it was my garden. Ah, she said. We thought it was a trap. I laughed, again. Not quite.

And, last time I wrote about the garden, I mentioned the boy who lives next door to The Nursery, who comes over and chats with me whenever I'm out there, and when I say chats with me, I mean that he speaks in really fast Ateso, 99% of which I can't understand, and so I just talk to him in English about whatever. Every once in a while, I'll be able to pick one or two words and get the gist of what he's saying and formulate some sort of coherent answer. So, he came over when I was getting ready to plant. I greeted him, Yoga noi!, literally saying hello very much and asked how he was doing, Biaibo ijo? He said he was fine. Biabibo esomero?, I asked. He said school was fine. And then he said, Ateso ateso! Ateso ateso ateso ateso. Ateso? Ateso ateso. And I said, Oh, I know, right? I can't believe it, either. He laughed, like he always does when I talk to him in English, and said, Ateso, ateso ateso. Ateso ateso ateso etogo ateso?, and he made a motion to go down the walkway of the garden and crouch through, into the middle part. He was asking if it was a house. I laughed, again. Ejai etogo kon?, I said, asking him if it was his house. He said it wasn't. Ikoto ijo etogo?, I said, asking if he wanted it to be his house. He said he didn't. Aso... I said, disappointed -- Well... And then I explained that there were going to be carrots, cabbage -- because I don't know if there's a word for lettuce -- and beans and cucumbers. He seemed disappointed. Maybe I should've just told him that it was a house.

(And, speaking of cobbling together sentences in Ateso, one short, last sidestory: There's a restaurant in town that I've been going to fairly often in the last couple months. All they serve is posho -- a cakey sort of thing made of maize flour and water -- and beans, but it's a ridiculous amount of food for 1000/=, and, since that's all they ever serve, I can go in there and just say, Eong da inyamat. This always makes me happy because that literally translates as Me also food. It seems like the most appropriate way to ask for a two pound bowl of food.)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Danny. I am happy for you. You are who you wanted to be 3 years ago. Your bedroom, garden, and stories are beautiful. You are a person worth admiring. I am going back to South Africa this summer. I know that I will think of you often. Keep me in the loop. Swing down to SA in July if you have a free weekend (ha). Love you, Molly Ryan.