Sunday, July 4, 2010

Part 2: Out and About in the Tooro Kingdom

--I've written these two posts in advance so I can quickly stop by the Internet
office and post--

Part 2: Out and About in the Tooro Kingdom

In Fort Portal, there's a hilltop palace where King Oto reigns over the Tooro
Kingdom, which contains parts of Uganda, the DR Congo, and Rwanda. I'm told that
people identify themselves as Tooro more than Ugandan. For this
reason, the president of Uganda recognizes many Kings within the country. I saw it in person when we went into town for shopping the other day. I got chocolate snacks to eat with my malaria pill.

The language is "Rutooro" and the people are "Batooro". King Oto isn't at home
- he goes to a nice prep school in England. He became an officially-recognized King in April
when he turned 18. Much pomp and circumstance, and his assistants showed up: the
president of Uganda, local leaders, and the eccentric Libyan Gaddafi.

I'm now on Day 5 of living in the Tooro Kingdom, and have done most everything
except laundry. I wake up, emerge from my mosquito nets, go out onto the
campus, visit the latrine, take a cold shower, brush my teeth without water, and
walk down the road away from MUBFS. At Chimp House, I eat a couple of eggs and a
slice of cinnamon bread with a few chimp biologists. They usually talk shop about
their field excursions and their chimpanzees, while I punctuate with newbie
questions like "how close do you get?" (right next to them) "does a lot of
chewing mean they like the food?" (no) "you ate raw monkey?" (chewed it, not
ate it). A few teachers from Massachusetts are with us the next two weeks,
too. Local religious/political/education leaders met with them the other night,
pushing them to offer advice for their preschool, special-ed, and math programs.

The first couple of days were my first encounters with a line of army ants,
the lizards that scurry across walls and flail on metal roofs, the red-tailed
monkeys jumping from branch to branch in the forest. The other day, when baboons
were fighting and rolling around the yard, I was more annoyed than awestruck.
Quiet baboons, I'm busy programming mesh-friendly color-selection for graphs.
Yesterday I saw a troop of black-and-white Colobus monkeys for the first time.
While they move gracefully from tree to tree, when the trees are farther apart the
Colobus monkey drops to the ground and awkwardly gallups (no other way to describe
it) over to the next trunk. It climbs up and looks relieved to be back in the
air. Then, stupidly, it climbs a thin branch. Reaching for a tasty
flower, there is a snap, a crash, and the monkey is soon galluping away to the
next tree.

There's a lot to be said about Kasiisi School, but it's best saved for after
my second trip. My first trip was definitely a conversation-starter; I have
gotten plenty of advice on who to meet and what to do once regular classes resume
on Tuesday. The teachers are very excited about the programs, but see promise in the badly-needed Excel analogue, SocialCalc, and the talking eBooks I have set up (Treasure Island audio is on its way). They'll be happy to see
their suggested changes in place when I return.

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