Friday, April 6, 2012

The Field Notes: Part One

So, now that am saying this I have officially relocated to Busia- a town in Kenya that borders Uganda. I decided to embrace the life of Dora The Explorer . We do have differences given that she can speak Spanish, walks around with a monkey, wears practically the same clothes, and uses a map! I am older, darker, speak little Spanish and totally spooked by monkeys and I am not good at reading maps let alone looking at them!
So, being in Busia is like being in a new country. Well, for starters I can't stop eating the bananas sold, and also walking from one place to the other. There are Kenyans, Ugandans, some Sudanese and the people I find most amusing are called 'Apese' in this area. They seem Acholi, but they have such strength and aggressively market their ability to do household chores that it makes you wonder what it is about them. They are neither Acholi nor Ugandan, but they lie somewhere in between-and their skin complexion resembles the Turkana.
Being on the field is great because you learn just how much your body can take and you meet people who live lives in a way that is new to you-and all the while you have to accept them for who they are and also learn as much as you can about them. In our team there are four guys, and three ladies including me-and there's lots you learn about perception-and what guys expect of ladies and vice versa. First I learned that they think of me as having an accent that is hard to comprehend. Second they do not understand how I can carry a bag weighing 13kgs, and also a notebook and pen to jot down stuff. Third they do not get why I love walking around in crocs and boyjeans. I must confess that on the team I resemble the men more than I do the women and this has made the guys question what I'm all about-sometimes I tell them I will write a whole book about them and they back off-when they are full, especially after lunch they take it upon themselves to mock me-and I let them burn their calories.
They also wonder how come I can read books while we are on the road, and why I seem to possess general knowledge-but one thing I do wonder with being in the field-is just how much information is enough and how much of it can be set aside for a later date-we'll see how it goes after a few more visits.

How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?