Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My African Hair Adventure

21 hours and 45 minutes.
A total of four days.
3 days in the salon and one day of just me.

I thought the Nile was intense… no, this hair ordeal was the most draining and time consuming thing I have ever done in my entire life. I’m just so glad I like it, cause if not that would have really sucked. Jill and I were an amazing team. We must go by Nochewala (Jill) and Nantungo (me) now, because you just can’t have a white name with African hair like this.
All I have to say is, These African women who do hair… they are beasts. They are so tough. I was insanely exhausted and my back hurt like crazy, and also super anxious to be done… which took forever to be a reality. Luckily for Nochewala, she finished on the first day, she had much less hair than me and she wasn’t able to go back like I was, so my ladies stopped working on me and finished her. I was glad she got through though, and I really did need a break. But it’s still a stinkin’ hilarious story. I’ll take it day by day so you get the full affect of how great/horrible it really was.

Day one: Friday 10/9/09 12 hours. 8am to 8pm
Jill and I got to the Salon around 7:40 in the morning, we would have been there at seven, but Ivan was really late picking us up. I found it hilarious, they continually told me how I had to much hair, but then they decided to do the braids that would take the absolutely longest time imaginable. I seriously think some of these twists only have like five hairs in them, maybe even less in the front. It was ridiculous.

This is Aisha (on the left) and Florence (behind me). Aisha owned the place. She started working on me, and then Florence started a little later on the back. Florence worked on me all of Friday, and Aisha would pop in and out. I tried to do homework during this adventure. For the first six hours I managed to read one and a half chapters of a book and some packet readings. But after their lunch break, Florence showed me how to twist too, and I did that for the next six hours. So I worked on all the twists that Aisha had done half way (she would just start a bunch of them and then move on, it made it go much faster once I learned how to twist as well, and honestly, I’m a horrible person for thinking this, but I’m such a perfectionist that I felt like I did a better job twisting than they did, they did it faster, but I made sure my hair didn’t stick out… I know I’m horrible, they really did do a great job). They were all impressed by my twisting skills. I couldn’t tell exactly what they were saying but every once in a while I would here “well done mzungu” and they would show off what I had done to the people who stopped by. It made me happy =) I feel like I should definitely get some community engagement hours for it. Then at 8 at night they stopped working on me and put this enormous bun on the top of my head, it was literally a second head, I think I could have hidden a baby in it, or a bird could have made it its nest.

Which then leads me to day 2Now on day 2 I only spent two hours in the salon, from 7am to 9am. Everyone was supposed to meet at seven to work on me but only Aisha was there. All the other ladies you see in the picture didn’t arrive until 8. But look at this, count how many ladies are working on my head. There are 4 ladies twisting around me, and myself… that makes 5 people! It was intense. And I still wasn’t even close to being done.
So yet again my hair was wrapped up in this giant monstrosity upon my head and I walked straight to school to leave for our weekend trip to Luweero.
Luckily for me, since I did know how to twist, and there were many partially twisted strands, I got to spend another three hours that day working on it on my own. Two on the bus and one during our only hour of free time. Everyone was quite impressed with its massiveness.
Which brings me to Sunday. My growth got to go to church with me, it was the best catholic mass I have ever been to in my life. I didn’t have a clue what was being said (it was all in Luganda) but the priest was so relational, so enthusiastic and vibrant that it didn’t even matter, we were all hooked. And the congregation definitely exemplified the Father Gerrie’s genuine heart and passion as well. The music was amazing. The service was just about three hours long, but that didn’t even matter. It was awesome! My head did start to feel like the weight of the bun was going to make it fall off, but I survived and was able to relieve the pressure by taking out the bun on the bus afterwards.
I twisted for another hour and a half on the bus, until I started to feel nauseous and Dean made me stop. And then for the best part, when I got home, I slaughtered the beast! I cut off like ten pounds of extra hair on the ends. I spent 45 minutes cutting, with a little bit of twisting here and there. It was amazing, I felt like I had been freed from this horrible bondage. My hair still wasn’t done, but it looked so much better, and it made the last day go so much faster (and I got it to look how I wanted it to J ).
Day 4: Monday (your birthday mommy!) And victory day for me and my hair! It just took 2 and a half hours, I was so relieved. Aisha did do the braids way bigger, but I didn’t even care, I was just so glad to be rid of the bun. Aisha tried to put my hair up in a pony tail and I was just, please, let me wear it down… she finally agreed.
So, once all the hair was completely done, we trimmed off some ends and then dipped my hair in boiling water to like seal it I guess. It made the ends look so much nicer, they weren’t all frizzy and looking like I was struck by lightning anymore.
And so 21 hours and 45minutes later, 14 hours for Nochewala…. And we finally finsished! It was tons of fun. People keep asking me if it was worth all the time it took. Part of me was like no way! Bigger braids look just as good and they take a third of the time, and the other part of me was like, this is a stinkin’ hilarious story… yeah, it was worth it.
So now, I’m working on the head pat. These things make your head itch so bad, and you can’t scratch! All you can do is either beat your head, or just press down hard and rub. I prefer the second but sometimes the first comes in handy if I’m angry… JK J This concludes Nantungo’s African Hair Adventure. Sorry it was so long, but it was a very long process. I hope you enjoyed it! But… I wonder what’s going to happen when I try to take it out???

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rafting the Nile

I would like to say that we conquered the Nile last Saturday, but I think a more appropriate response would be that we survived it. It was amazing. Terrifying and exhilarating. Exhausting. 8 hours of rafting, of the same rowing motion… left arm up and down, right arm forward and backward. Even sleeping hurt. I wish I could post pictures with this blog, but we haven’t gotten them back yet, hopefully later this week. Somebody has to pick them up from Kampala. But it was amazing. You will understand the intensity of it when I show you the pictures… but I’ll give you the highlights =)
First off, you must meet Olow, our rafting guide. He was the bomb. He was also tainted by the American rafting guides because oh my, that man had a mouth on him. I hadn’t heard that much cursing in a long time, and it’s even weirder when it’s said in a Ugandan accent. But yeah, along with his cursing, he loved to lie. The lying wasn’t all bad though, if he had really told us what kind of rapids we were up against… I probably would have had a heart attack before every one.
Take the waterfall for instance. I was so nervous to go down the ‘4ft drop’ that he told us about. How we must stay in the boat and that it can’t flip because the water is super shallow and super rocky at the bottom. How when we did our down position in the boat we had to make sure our knees were still up because they would be scraped off when we hit the rock bottom of the waterfall if they were down. Well, most of this scenario is still true, except for the length of the drop. Take our four foot waterfall and times it by three. The drop was at least the length of our raft… crazy.
But yeah, so the best part about this story is after we survived the waterfall we decided to take on the harder rapids right after that. We were the ONLY boat with that stupid idea. Those waves ate us alive. We were like, yeah we can do it! And then our boat was swallowed by the Nile, chewed a little bit, and then spit us back out. We flipped. The worst part of the boat flipping, is when it lands on you. They say don’t freak out and you’ll be fine, but yeah, try not to freak out during the situation and I applaud you. I drank a whole lot of the Nile in those rapids. But, we all survived! I did feel kind of bad, poor Tina (she was sitting behind me in the boat) and when we went down the waterfall our boat like folded in half, and her face smashed into my helmet. We thought she had broken her nose. So not only was she drowning in the rapids after the waterfall, her nose what throbbing. Just so you know, her nose is fine, she barely bruised at all, not even noticeable unless you were looking for it. But yeah, not even our guide enjoyed that flip, and most of the time he was trying to flip us. Oh and just so everyone knows… I saved Dean in those rapids. Oh yes. When he popped out of the water I grabbed him and dragged him to the boat before the next set of waves came. Who’s the damsel in distress now J I enjoyed it.
My next favorite section of rapids was the very last one. The Nile was roaring, but we conquered! It was quite funny though (quite funny in the American sense, yesterday Joy and I learned that every time our brother or friend told us they were doing quite good, it meant that they weren’t doing good at all. We must have looked like the biggest jerks, we’d always be like, oh good when they said that… boy were we wrong). But yes, as we headed towards the last section of rapids we were preceded by a huge floating island of plants. The plants didn’t get the memo though. Before the last set of rapids we had to get out of the water and walk around a section that was just way to rocky to raft on… and if they don’t even raft it in Africa… you know they’re bad. But yeah, the poor island, they floated along, and then got eaten. It churched kind of like a smoothie in a blender… I was glad it was the plants and not me.
But we got back in the water. In the middle of rapids, and were just like… here we go! There were two big sections of the rapids to get through, we survived the first, we didn’t flip and nobody fell out. But we were nowhere near done… up ahead were the most intense, angry waves I have ever seen… including “The Bad Place” (class 6 rapids). Previously we had agreed to end our trip on the class three. Olow had given us three options, class 1 class 6, or class 3. In that order across the river, one being closest to the right side of the shore then six then three (the farthest from where we were and had to pass the six to get to the three). Well, when we were there, it all looked like a six to me, except the one, which looked like a pretty nice option. But Olow had a plan of his own. First off, a 3 rapid there didn’t even exist, Olow lied… again. We got into position, we were going to travel across the waves to get to the rapids Olow desired for us… Olow desired, not us. Now, while Dean might have a different interpretation, he was in the front of the boat and couldn’t see anybody so he has no place to criticize or judge. I was terrified, we were all terrified. When Olow said paddle hard… we paddled hard (contrary to what Dean thinks) I paddled like my life depended on it. But I was screaming the whole time. If terror has a tone, we captured it. We were all screaming “I don’t want to do it! Where are you taking us! I don’t want to go here! I want the one! Where are we going! I don’t want to do it!” it really was a beautiful chorus of terror and fear. I just wish it was caught on video. But we paddled, into what I thought was the mouth of death, but the Nile had mercy… and I guess Olow is a pretty smart guy as well. We made it, nobody died, and unlike the boat that went before us, we didn’t even flip. But oh boy, I don’t think my heart has ever pumped so hard in my entire life. It was amazing. The Nile is a crazy river. I’m so glad I did it, and even more glad that I survived. We flipped twice (well three if you count the practice flip while we were learning what to do) and I fell out once when our boat didn’t flip, everyone but Abigail and our guide fell out that time; payback for her being the only one to fall out the time before. But even after it all, I came back pretty much all intact. My only casualty was a piece of my big toe nail got ripped off, a few scratches, a couple bruises and a sunburn on the top of my legs. It was a good day.