"It's such a small world!"
This is a phrase we say quite often, when we run into a old acquaintance in a bar, or we have common friends on facebook, or we meet someone whose parents know our parents.
Well, I am now convinced that it is, in fact, a really small world. On my first day in Kampala, I ran into Miriam Schwartz. If that name sounds familiar to some of my high school friends, it should! Miriam was three years older than me at Georgetown Day School, home of the Mighty Hoppers (our fearsome mascot). Turns out, she had been working at IDI, the clinic where I am, for the past year. I can't tell you how reassuring it was to see a familiar face on that first day on a strange, new continent.
Unfortunately, Miriam had to leave Uganda a few days ago to return to the U.S. and finish medical school. To celebrate her last night, Miriam, my colleague Angelina, and I went out to eat traditional Ugandan pork, a delicacy here. As we were sitting at our table, a street vendor ambled up to us holding a big bucket.
"Yes! You have to try these!" Miriam squealed when she saw him.
"What are they?" I asked, hesitantly.
"Nsenene," she said, as Miriam and Angelina could barely contain their laughter.
I peered into the bucket. Inside were hundreds, if not thousands, of dead grasshoppers. I shuddered. No way was I putting one of those in my mouth. While I don't think of myself as overly cautious, let's just say I was in no hurry to eat a hopper.
Miriam took my hand and plunged it into the bucket, ordering me to grab a few nsenene. I relented, and picked up a little one. It felt airy and frail in my hand. I peered at my future meal, and unnervingly, the eyes of the dead hopper peered back at me!
Cringing, I looked at my two friends and gulped. I put the dead insect in my mouth. It was... not bad! It crunched like a potato chip, and was a bit salty. Miriam laughed and then popped a grasshopper in her mouth. I swallowed the nsenene, and the vendor asked if I wanted to buy a whole bag. Nope, one was enough for me, thanks.
Think it's a small world when you run into a friend from college at a bar in the west village? Last weekend, there were two Mighty hoppers eating hoppers in Kampala!!