A Travellerspoint blog

July 2013

Best (and quirks) of the Brits

oompa loompas, the royal baby, hotpants and strawberries....

sunny 30 °C

There were many things we were looking forward to in our few months in the UK, one was escaping the heat for a bit (especially with the pregnancy), but it seemed the heat followed us back to the UK, and literally as we travelled north in my parents small over-packed fiesta, so did the 30C + heat (combined with standstill traffic and a bored toddler making it a wonderful 7 hour journey up the M6…)

9 of the funny the things that you notice after being out of the country for a while...

1. At the many service stations we visited on the awful journey, we were both struck with how many family units there were, dads spending time with their kids, couples together, dads helping with childcare, dads pushing buggies…

2. After not seeing knees (male or female) for a while, it is strange to see so much white flesh wobbling about- hot pants, mini skirts, playsuits, people are loving the summer sun! It is also strange to realize how much pressure people (especially young girls) feel to have the right ‘look.’ The media isn’t coy about what they believe is the sexiest, cutest look...

3. Adverts on the TV to save abandoned dogs, with the dogs having a voice-over and telling a sob story seems so surreal after being in a place where there is no pet culture and animals are purely functional and often mistreated- text ‘PAWS to 81145 and send a pound a week to save more neglected dogs’ is a world away from the flea and worm infested dogs in our neighbourhod in Arua…! It also seems a bit weird when it seems animals are considered as important as people…

4. Having to explain to Amelie what an ambulance, fire engine, police car and radiator are, and why dogs here look so glossy and are on a lead.

5. How delicious summer berries are, especially with cream

6. All the news about Kate and Wills and the baby prince reminds us about how obsessed the UK media can get about something

7. How strict health and safety rules are (I got barked at today by a man in a high-vis yellow vest for amelie's buggy obstructing an aisle...), and how many people wear helmets when cycling. We also have to explain to Amelie why we can’t hold her at the front of the car when she is tired.

8. How many old people are around- yesterday we saw an old lady whizz past on an electric scooter with a fluffy dog sitting happily in the basket, and it made us do a double take. There is definitely a lot of white hair bobbing around.

9. How refreshing it is to be able to go on a walk as a family and not get hassled...




I didn’t expect to find so many small, daily things strange, and I’m sure in a few days it will all be boringly normal again, but I wonder how Amelie finds this new culture and all the things which are so different. The other day we were visiting a village carnival with various floats and all sorts of people in fancy dress, including a bunch of orange-faced, green haired oompa lompas, and I watched Amelie’s face of utter bewilderment as she was wondering ===‘is this normal here?’…===


Seeing friends and family...
baking with auntie zed

baking with auntie zed

auntie lizzie

auntie lizzie

Posted by africraigs 13:32 Archived in England Tagged lakes people Comments (1)

When Misery came to the house...

What's in a name?...

sunny 27 °C

I can’t exactly say my heart leapt when I saw her… six foot tall and thin, deep voice, big hands, and either the worst luck I’ve known, or a wild imagination for spinning stories- it was Candiru, a lady who had visited us several times before asking for money for various dire scenarios. Candiru literally means ‘misery’ in the local language and unfortunately she lives up to it, with her terrible tales of bus accidents, her children starving, her clothes being stolen and so on.

The Lugbara naming culture is similar to the names in the Bible in that names have power and can describe the situation of the child’s birth. It’s not just in peoples’ names, but also generally in the words spoken (which is why David’s sarcasm often goes down like a lead balloon…)

We also met ‘Breath of death’ (Draza) last week- a teenage boy lying unconscious outside out house, unfortunately also living up to his name-skinny as a skeleton, neglected at home, malnourished.
These confusing situations are so hard to get to the bottom of, or fully understand, or even know the ‘right’ way to respond.

Our Landlord, an older man, was explaining that it is only in recent years that names have become more positive and hopeful, names such as ‘Asianzu’ (peace/ grace) ‘Ayikoru’- (joy) and ‘fetaa’ – (gift) are more common, alongside the 'miserables' and ‘breath of death’s’ around us.

One of the big responsibilities of expecting a baby is choosing their name/s. After causing confusion and amusement with Emma and Craig being boys names here, and people thinking Amelie is Emily, we had been hoping to find a Lugbara name we could use as a middle name, but haven’t had much success- either the names are so depressing, (Feku: ‘give not’- the mother never gave the father enough food, Drajoa- ‘in the death hut’- meaning many children died in the house or 'Inia'- meaning the father only visited the mother at night…) and the more positive ones don’t exactly roll off the tongue. Our language teacher, another Candiru, who thankfully doesn’t live up to her name, has been very patient with me asking for the Lugbara words for ‘hope’ ‘blessing’ ‘wanted’ etc… with disappointingly clunky sounding results.

We realised one of our shortlisted fave girl’s names means ‘food’ tomato’ and ‘millet’ in the local language so we’re back to the drawing board. And then I throw my patriotic husband’s desire for Scottish name into the mix too, and we’re really stuck…

I am writing this in the limbo land of Entebbe, (where Uganda's international airport is situated, waiting for our BA flight on Monday), in between the world of Candiru’s begging at the gate and millet flour and charcoal stoves, and an island of paved roads and snazzy buggies and punctual time keeping…

saying goodbye to all the animals

saying goodbye to all the animals

Our life often feels a bit like that ‘in-between’ place culturally, with our lives in two completely different countries and continents. It is strange enough for David and I as adults, but we worry about how confusing it is for Amelie with her white-blond hair but her love of riding boda-bodas and her Ugandan accent.
Amelie and her beloved dolly

Amelie and her beloved dolly

Posted by africraigs 12:23 Archived in Uganda Comments (3)

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