I should start with a clarification. The name of the midwife is in fact Zipola. The reason I thought her name was Shiraz is because many of the staff call her that. Apparently in Lugisu it means something along the lines of “ornery old matron”, but is a term of endearment rather than a derogatory one, so she responds to it and is in no way offended by it.
So I think I need to break from medicine for a bit to talk about Football. Unsurprisingly it’s the focus of all athletic intrigue around here. The English Premiere League is the most popular by a long shot. For whatever reason, Arsenal is the team of choice for most people in Bududa. There are a few Man U fans (as there are wont to be wherever you go) but I felt very isolated in my Chelsea love. I’d like to say I’m a QPR fan to the core haha, but no one here really cares about them and the games are almost never on, so Chelsea is a safer bet as far as cultural acceptance. I spent my Saturday afternoon watching football in Bushika (the trading center a few villages down the road). It was a crazy fun time. I went with James (one of the two Clinical Officers) and Richard (the Health Outreach Coordinator at the clinic. He is also a pastor and head teacher of a small primary school he and his wife started. Also just had a baby boy like a week ago). Anyway, we went to Bushika, got these delicious sodas called “Mirandazes” that tasted kind of like bubble gum, and went to the football watching hut. This place is like a really old school theater. It’s a big mud building, maybe 100′ x 50′. It’s filled with these decrepit, hand made wooden benches and in the back corner is one 15 year old 32″ LG TV (probably weighs about 20 lbs.). They pack 250 people into this thing (all men. Women culturally wouldn’t be allowed in this environment) and charge 500 shillings to watch (that’s like 15 cents American). We got there early enough that we got the good seats near the front, that had back rests, but it wasn’t even close to comfortable because we ended up with people sitting on a shorter bench in front of us using our legs as backrests. At first this weirded me out, but it’s clearly a totally normal culture thing. So picture me in the middle of a huge cuddle pile of Arsenal fans aged anywhere from 11-60, the only white person, and the only Chelsea supporter within about a 5 mile radius. I got a lot of street-cred with the guys for accurately predicting Chelsea would win 2-1 and that Torres and Mata would be the goal scorers. It was awkward when I lept up cheering when Chelsea put the first one in and no one else was excited. James said something in Lugisu and the men all laughed, but I definitely felt like I was in hostile territory. Some Man U fans came in at halftime, and while they were not so much pro-Chelsea as they were anti-Arsenal, the back-up was nice. It started raining right before halftime, which of course killed the signal, on account of it being old school super jenky satellite cable, but they got it working again in about 10 minutes and a riot was averted. The signal cut out constantly, but usually only for a few seconds. This resulted in lots of moments of tense “OH! WHAT JUST HAPPENED????”All in all it was an excellent experience, I think it will likely become a Saturday routine.
I also played football with some of the Arlington students a few days ago, which was great fun. The boys wanted to do boys vs. girls, which I agreed to, but said I would play on the girls team to even it out a bit. I broke the boys’ hearts when I scored the only goal of the game two minutes before their lunch break ended. This is not a normal field that we play on though. It’s not even close to flat, is full of pot holes, and there aren’t sidelines. The upper side of the pitch is a dirt wall separating off a farmers field (you can play balls off the wall, and it’s angled enough that you can run along it too, so sometimes you end up playing at like a 30 degree angle). The far side is an uneven drop off to a bunch of houses, so kids were constantly having to jump down about 4 or 5 feet, get the ball, throw it in, then climb back up. The goals are made with big banana leaves that we stick in the ground. These are not the biggest challenge though. The biggest challenge is the cows. See, the field that we play in is also the grazing field for all the neighborhood cows, and they are utterly indifferent to the presence of 30 school children and a Muzungu EMT. So as you are playing, jumping pot holes, leaping mud pits, you are also constantly having to dodge both nice big cow pies, and the cows themselves. One kid nearly made what would likely have been the play of the century. He was hemmed in up against one of the cows by two defenders. Rather than trying to break free from them, he kicked the ball between the cows legs, then rolled over it’s back, down the other side, and gathered the ball. It was just him vs. the goalie at that point and it looked like it would be the highlight of the season when he had an unfortunate large- pile-of-cow-dung-induced face-plant and lost control of the ball. It was hugely funny, though also one of the great tragedies of sports this year (right up there with D-Rose’s injury in game 1 of the Philly series and Lance’s verdict).
The kids usually play football with a bunch of plastic bags bundled up together, so the fact that I have a real ball is freakishly exciting to them. It’s already totally rallied, and I will probably need to replace it by mid-October, but they are only like $7 in town so I can live with that I think.
A few photos to follow: