Almost 8 months have already passed since I have lived in Uganda.
Now, that feels about right…until I count what I have remaining until my return flight…but I don’t want to focus on that part.
I have been mentally writing one-liners for a blog for awhile now, so it is time to put those thoughts on paper, I mean…online.
Basic Realities Of Living In Uganda For (almost) 8 Months:
1. I am incredibly happy to be missing what sounds like the worst winter ever back home in the Chicagoland area. I certainly prefer sunshine over snow…even if it never really felt like Christmas.
2. I am not a typical American in many ways: a friend brought Extra-crunchy Jif peanut butter when she came to visit me, and a month and a half later, I finally opened it today.
3. I no longer worry about boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers charging me unfair prices. I used to always make sure I had exact change for my trips to town, or wherever, but now I am confident they won’t rip me off. Sometimes they even give me more change than I expect!
4. Since I have my own apartment now, I rarely go to my previous escape, a local coffee shop/restaurant.
5. I don’t have a refrigerator, so I have to be strategic about how much (and what) I purchase. Maybe one of these days I will cough up the money and buy one. After all, I would like to enjoy cheese and leftovers.
6. When a friend was moving, a Ugandan friend that is, I went to town to shop with him because I knew the best shops in the market to find the items on his list. He was convinced I was the right person when he heard the store owners yell Kyomuhangi when they saw me (my Ugandan name). He has lived in this town about two years longer than me.
7. Some neighbor kids boldly walk straight to me, expecting a hug, when they see me walking on our road. Most kids shyly stare or yell mzungu from afar.
8. One of my boda drivers bought me a chapatti the other day…after he asked me to buy him one and I laughed and said no.
9. My coworkers sent me to the market to buy mangoes for a special activity because they trusted me to get good ones at a good price…in the past these same people wouldn’t let me do any shopping, for fear of prices being significantly increased…in fact, they were afraid to shop with me accompanying them.
10. My neighbors sometimes wash their clothes and dry them in the front instead of the back…including their underwear. This is completely shocking in Ugandan culture. Underwear must be dried inside. The first time I saw it, I felt extremely embarrassed. I had company coming over that evening and was trying to figure out if I should ask them to put them inside…thankfully they did without me asking and before my guests arrived.
11. A high school student who lives at the children’s home saw me washing plates last week as she walked by the ABIDE house. She was sincerely shocked and said, you know how to wash plates? I tried really hard not to be offended as she continued speaking…of course Americans have machines for such things, so how could I possibly know how to do this. Trust me, I have plenty of experience with water and towel fights with my brothers while washing dishes. I can’t even tell you how many times people ask me who washes my clothes and are surprised to learn that I wash my own clothes…by hand.
12. I just discovered that the left faucet in my kitchen does indeed have warm water if the water heater has been turned on…I guess I have never washed dishes so soon after showering before.
13. I can buy a huge avocado for the equivalence of 12 cents. Seriously. I did the conversion multiple times because I couldn’t believe it either.
14. The laundry soap here is amazing at getting dirt out of white shirts.
15. People often give me gifts in the way of food…which I love…except I am one person and rarely can manage the generosity fast enough! Sometimes ABIDE gets to benefit from that!
16. I have the shortest commute of my life…and any ABIDE employee (except those that live in the ABIDE house): 5 minute walk (if I walk like a Mzungu, 10 if I walk like a Ugandan).
17. I used to walk through town with people, and we would stop and greet several people throughout our time running errands. Once I said, someday I am going to walk around town and see several people I know. Well, now it happens.
18. Electricity is usually off from 6:30am-6:30pm Friday-Sunday. Last Friday it was still on when I left for work, and I was almost annoyed.
19. When electricity comes back on in the evenings, I usually don’t realize it because I don’t have anything turned on for me to notice when it comes on.
20. When it comes to walking to town, I usually have to convince any Ugandans coming with me that they can manage the walk.
I think that’s enough for now…
I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into my life here in The Pearl of Africa.