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Some thoughts on Uganda

posted Aug 18, 2012, 6:44 AM by jj pionke
How the heck do you describe a place like Uganda?  It's a complicated place. 


Outside of the cities, people live in concrete or brick buildings sometimes.  Not everyone though.  There are many villages where the principal housing is mud huts with thatch for a roof.

The Lake Victoria Hotel is a bastion of old colonialism, complete with pool, waiter service, and overpriced food.

The dust gets into everything.  The white parts of my gym shoes are now a reddish brown.  Even my tan colored hat is now a reddish brown from the dust.

Security is everywhere.

While I've been here, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come.  Not at the same time.  Both times the security around here reached unimaginable proportions.

Ebola is in Kabaale District.  There has also been a case in Kampala (a health worker from Kabaale District).  Kampala is only one hour away by car.

The weather has been absolutely perfect and my arms have been the tannest they have been since I lived in Japan (though not quite that dark).

When I get back to the US, I am taking a break from peanuts and peanut butter for at least a solid month.

Everyone speaks English....whether or not they understand it, even when you slow down, is a whole different issue.

Lizards are everywhere. They are good as they eat the lake flies that are everywhere.  There's a small one no longer than my pinky that adopted the apt and I have called it Ralph.

The country bursts with produce - the avocados, mangos, pineapples, etc so large and juicy and good that it's like no food on Earth.

You have to take Uganda on its' own terms.  You'd go crazy is you do otherwise.

Cell phones are everywhere and so are internet USB modems.   Very few people have landlines.

It always smells like burning - sometimes it is burning trash and sometimes it is plant materials but smoke is present wherever there are humans.

You don't realize how quiet places like America are until you live in Uganda with chickens, goats, cows, pigs, large birds, and people all making a racket at O'God o'clock.

You will never take a washer and a dryer for your clothes for granted ever again.

You'll never take water drunk straight from the tap for granted ever again either.

Boda Bodas are everywhere and cheap.  They are also just as likely to give you a heart attack.  Let's just say that road rules are more of a suggestion than a rule.

Bargaining is acceptable everywhere including for taxis, rent, produce, etc.

Do not walk alone at dark, especially as a woman, even in supposedly safe areas.  A friend was mugged on her way home.  She was fine and the thief really didn't get much of anything, but still, something to be aware of.

Safari is worth every single penny.

The stars have never seemed so bright, even in Entebbe.

A gin and tonic is quite refreshing and you know, a little extra malaria prevention goes a long way.

Children (and some adults) will joyously greet you with Muzungu!

Uganda is a good place for introspection and not just because the power goes out or that there isn't a whole lot to do or see if you are in the cities.