Sunday, 7 August 2011

Drinking and dowries...

Hey guys! It’s been such a good couple of days, I think this is going to be a long one. As already mentioned in my last post, we did white water rafting and had a night out the previous day.

On Friday when I got back to pauls and I decided to stay, it was pretty apparent that we would be going out (it was a Friday night, after all, and I was missing a night at Sals.) we first headed out to mediteraneo, the Italian restaurant where I met up with paul for lunch on Wednesday. There we met up with a couple of friends of paul and tarik, including a Serbian guy called George. We had a few drinks and some of us had dinner (I had fresh ravioli, DIVINE), and I found out that George was getting engaged the following day, so he had to travel to rukingiri where the girls family lives. He invited me along for the ride, so I decided to go.

After mediteraneo we moved on to a shisha bar called casa blanca which was a real hole, but we sat outside and after much waiting and arguing they produced a pipe for us, which was enjoyable. George used to be a barman (in a very classy bar, I imagine) and makes amazing cocktails. He has an amazing command over people, and eveyr place we went he would just nip behind the bar and mix up something amazing, so even in this crappy bar we had great drinks.

After the shisha George decided that he needed to go home and rest, but we stayed on in town and went back to the same irish pub we went to on Wednesday, but it was packed so we didn’t stay long, before moving on to a place called cayenne, which pauls friend ron got us into for free. Apparently there are a lot of rich Indians around in kampala and they don’t pay to get in anywhere. Cayenne was really nice and I actually bumped into one of the girls who was rafting on the same day as me and we had travelled on the same bus to jinja. We had some great cocktails there as well, despite the fact that George had left!

We eventually went home and slept for a couple of hours before getting up at six to set off for rukinjiri. We travelled up in a car that George had just bought but it was pretty much falling apart. We stopped on the way for samosas which were really nice and we finally arrived at the hotel at about 2 o’clock. After showering and getting changed we had to drive to the village that is home to the bride, Helens family. The engagement thing was really interesting, there were a lot of very strict rules we had to follow. When we came into the house we had to walk in a straight, single file line. We were taken into a room where we were given this absolutely vile drink made form ground millet. I only managed on sip and I heaved 3 times before I could even swallow it. Most of the others managed most of a glass, but I have no idea how they did it. George managed a glass and a half. I was really worried about appearing rude by not drinking it, but I figured it would have been ruder to throw up everywhere than to leave it in the glass. After the drink we had to walk in a line again to this makeshift marquee that had been set up, and we had to sit facing all of the family and village elders but we weren’t allowed to greet them, we had to wait for them to come to us, which they didn’t.

One of the elders made a speech and we listened, but it didn’t make a lot of sense. The general gist was (I think) that they were happy we were there, despite the fact they didn’t look the slightest bit happy. Then we went off to a separate room where they fed us for 2 hours. They had this really nice chicken which was cooked wrapped in banana leaves, and there was a parcel for each of us. Georges parcel contained a whole chicken that he wasn’t allowed to share!

After the food we went back and we all had to speak and say who we were. Then they asked us why we were there and I was dreading having to answer that but there was an adjudicator type of person and he answered for us. Then all of the daughters of the family came out and they had to give a flower to the man they wanted to marry. It all seemed a bit odd because they clearly already knew who was getting engaged to who, but thats the way it was. After that basically they had to negociate about the dowry price, even though we had brought loda of stuff with us, they require a lot from the man. He had been told to buy 20kg of sugar, 10kg of salt, lots of waragi, bread, butter, biscuits, soap, and bottled water. On top of that they asked for 10 ankole cows, with the biggest horns, but to show his gratitude he offered 12. That would cost about 12million shillings, which is about £3000. After that it got a lot more relaxed and we basically danced and partied. They wanted us to stay there which I think would have been fun but George was a bit snobby about it and was like ‘I don’t want to sleep on the fucking floor, it’s like Auschwitz in there’ even though they had mattresses and stuff, I think it looked fine, but we went back to the hotel, where the Serbians (along with paul and tarik) drank for hours. Me and the Brazilian girl I shared a room with went to be quite early as we were so knackered form the night before!

This morning I came back to ruhanga, which was on their way home so they dropped me off, which was nice. Now that I’m back it feels a little weird but it’s nice that I feel I’ve come home, and I’ve surprised myself with how pleased I was to be back!

love, lucy xx

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