Just before mid-day, Kevin and I set off for Prisca’s house. I tucked my market tote into the basket on the front of Lucy’s shiny pink Smart Lady bicycle and followed Kevin out of town, off the paved road and onto the dirt track to Prisca’s place. I bit it about halfway, in one of the dips in the road where potholes had been filled in with soft dust. I cannot remember the last time I fell off a bicycle, and I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to brush myself off.
Prisca’s youngest, Abey Goretti, was quick to make silent lion roars at me as soon as we arrived, showing me her teeth, pulling on my hands and giggling. Over chai and chapatti, I spoke to her husband, Charles, about architecture. We pored over the plans he’d had made for a tailoring center. He asked me how people in the US get around when it snows.
This being the second visit out to Prisca’s home, I was pulled into the kitchen tukul after chai to help with the cooking. The mid-day sun outside was already beating down, but somehow the kitchen stayed cool. The walls were darkened from the charcoal stove – a curved bump out from the wall with two divots shaped to hold the coals beneath a pot. The embers burned pinkish/coral/hot through a mini-hearth below. We set to work, with Goretti’s giggly help, removing the leaves from the bo or “green vegetables” and putting them into a winnowing basket. Since the bo comes from the earth, it goes outside in the sun for some minutes to let any earthly creatures escape before the cooking begins.
Oil, onions, garlic – we put handfuls of the washed local rice (Kevin and I picked out stones) into the pot to fry it before cooking. Kevin minced the bo and we cooked it with local salt and oil, adding chopped tomatoes and the hen’s eggs I’d scrambled previously.
Prisca took a moment to give Goretti a bath in a basin outside the doorway. Goretti screamed the entire time, furious to have the dust washed from her skin.
We spent two hours in the kitchen, and then feasted in the sitting room:
Bo ki tongweno ki tongweno ki nyanya ki mucele ki layata
(greens with eggs, fried eggs with tomato and oil; with rice and yams)
Next class: cooking chicken.
After eating, Prisca insisted that I bathe before returning to town. She led me to the borehole to fill a basin, and sent me off to a corner of the as-yet roofless house that Charles is building. There is a concrete edge around the wall, and the middle is still dirt, which makes for a nice place to rinse and dump the used bath water.
After bathing, Prisca then insisted on oiling my skin before sending me off to town on my bicycle. Freshly-greased mzungu on a bike in Gulu during dry season. You can probably easily imagine the red dirt that clung to my skin as every car passed by. I arrived in Gulu looking very much like a happy martian with aviators.