Week of Firsts...

Week of Firsts…….

This was a week of firsts for me.  First, I rode a Bota bota for the first time.  A bota bota is motorcycle taxi and they are everywhere.  I would say they out number cars on the road at least 10:1.  It was literally the first time in my life I had ever been on a motorcycle, ever. Working as a Paramedic I am not a big fan of motorcycle, but it was either take the motorcycle taxi or walk to our destination.  So I jumped on the back, one hand secured to the handle on the back and one arm wrapped tightly around Kari. It is no uncommon to see 2-3 people on a Bota plus the driver.  We actually saw a bota with three male passengers, plus the driver.  Four grown men on one motorcycle was a crazy sight.  Off we went, white knuckled I clung on for my life.  I said a prayer before, during and after our journey.  I leaned forward during the ride and told Kari not to close her eyes because it made it way worse.  When I finally opened my eyes, I noticed that everyone passing by us was laughing, probably due to the shear terror on my face. However, we survived our journey and made it safely to our destination.


Another first for me was ox plowing; it is a required part of our training here at New Hope.  Growing up in College Station, Texas oddly enough we did not do much Ox plowing.  I had been very anxious to “help” in the fields and prepare them for planting by plowing with oxen.  Imagine a city raised boy behind a plow being drug by two enormous oxen.  After two passes I was out of breath and panting, between drops of sweat I looked back at my lines in the soil and they were none too straight.  I sat down to take a break and allow the men to get some actual work done; I am convinced that one of the oxen kept eyeing my down every time they came by.  After a few minutes of rest they called me back and had me do a couple more passes. It was a little easier this time, but wrestling with the plow to keep it in a straight line was hard work.  I sat back down and one of the experts, a 17 year old boy named John, took over.  I looked up from catching my breath and he was holding the plow with one hand and strolling along behind it like it was a leisurely walk in the park. He told me he had been plowing for about 12 years, so that means he was 5 when he started.  Can you all imagine Everett plowing??  Needless to say, they got a lot more work done once I was done “helping” them.

We also had our first encounter with a Mamba this week.  Our friends we are in training with had the first hand run-in with the Green Mamba. Thankfully nobody was hurt, well except the snake……..you can read the whole story complete with pictures at: http://mattandjamie.4cornersministries.org/2012/03/green-mamba-dead/


I scored my first goal playing Futbol with the Ugandans this past week as well…sorta.  On Sundays the Institute students have been challenging the school teachers in a game.  The first challenge was Volleyball and this past week was soccer, which they take very seriously.  It brought out a large crowd to watch and cheer. I was playing defender and our team made a run to the goal, so I ran with them.  There was a bit of a scrum and the ball shot out towards me, I stopped it and tried to pass it to one of our better players (which was anyone on the team other than me) to shoot.  I kicked it and it ricocheted off one of their defenders and squirted into the goal.  I also stopped one of their better players on a one-on-one match up.  He broke loose and it was me and him between our goal, I stood my ground and pretended to know what I was doing.  As he dribbled up to me and made a soccer move, I just stuck my foot out and the ball actually hit it.  The ball bounced right off my foot and shot between his legs.  I was able to run behind him and kick it back up field, all while pretending I had some clue as to what I was doing.  This came with a huge roar from the crowd that this Muzungo (what Ugandans call white people) stole the ball from a Ugandan. We played a full 90 minutes a came to a 1-1 tie.  It was debatable about whether I was going to be able to get out of bed the next day, but amazingly I felt great.

I have also been working in the clinic in the afternoons, which I will blog about more soon.  However, I had another first there last week.  I worker came in with a big splinter deep into his thumb, no problem, nothing some Lidocaine and a big needle can’t cure. We injected his thumb with Lidocaine to numb it up and dug the big splinter out with an 18 gauge needle.  Can’t say I have ever done that in the US.

This is only a few of the things I am doing for the first time in Africa, but these were some of the highlights.

Matthew OrtegaComment