We have been in Uganda for seven months now. The concept of time has been strange. Life seems to move excruciatingly slower than we’ve ever experienced, but in hindsight moments are passing at warp speed. During training, Peace Corps showed us a graph of a volunteer’s typical emotional swing over two years and 3 months. It really looked like a roller coaster, and both Aaron and I, and I’m sure several of our friends here, can attest to feeling like we’re on an emotional roller coaster. At first, you’re high off of the idea of a new adventure, then you move to site and start to feel isolated. Then maybe you’ll go up again as you think of projects you can start. Then go down again when you realize how difficult it is to have a successful project here and learn to work with people in a new way. And then maybe you go even lower because you know you should be happy but you aren’t (you = I). Finally, get over it and reach a middle ground where you realize things are different and sometimes not so pleasant, but you’re appreciative of the fact that this is what you asked for when you signed up. And then you start creating realistic goals for your projects and set more realistic expectations. So, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m feeling pretty normal again. It’s hard to gauge what we’ll feel like by the end of this service, but now that we’ve passed over our first slump of integrating, I can see clearly that we are growing. And so is our garden!
We went to a Peace Corps permagardening workshop in March and learned how to make basket gardens, which is a low-maintenance style of garden that typically lasts 5 years. Ours might not last quite as long because we used old, beat up bricks. It’s a good style for people who are ill, such as with HIV/AIDS because it doesn’t require much work once you build it. The soil is fed by compost in the center – you just throw your food scraps and non-toxic grey water in there. Because it’s set up within a circle, it doesn’t require much movement to attend to the crops.
When we put our first seeds in we had a huge battle with our neighbors’ chickens. They dug up the seeds and ate the first sprouts. A few seeds remained, some kale, beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, and basil, and then a cow got loose and came over to eat the beans and most of the beets, kale and carrots. So, we were left with just a sprinkling of veggies. Our basil and lettuce took off, though! We’ve been eating salads. Two kale plants, 2 carrots, and 2 beets survived the livestock attacks and they are growing strong now. Thanks to several people sending seeds, I’ve planted a few more crops and so far there haven’t been any pests to come and eat the seeds. I put some mulch on this time, which I suppose keeps the chickens at bay. So, hopefully by August we’ll have fennel, bell peppers, onions, chives, oregano, thyme, and another variety of kale. I need to get my hands on some berry seeds!
Love you all! Photos are in reverse order.