After spending a few days at my friend Celeste’s near Entebbe trying to adjust, I finally made it back home on Sunday. My friend Lizzie and I were dreading taking public transportation with all our luggage so at the last minute decided to spend a chunk of our monthly allowance and hire and car to take us to our front doors. This was the best decision I could have made. Instead of arriving home utterly exhausted and frustrated from battling pick-pocketers, rude men, thick crowds, and limited space on matatu’s, I arrived smiling and ready to be social.
The car pulled up to the gate and a number of students were playing here. There are several students who are orphans or whose parents neglect to pick them up due to finances that must live at school year-round. These students opened the gate for my taxi and as they saw me in the car window because to call out my name jumping up and down and clapping ecstatically. They then ran after the car to my house where they hugged me and welcomed me home taking my luggage into the house for me. It was a beautiful and heart-warming return.
Soon after getting to my house, other neighbors began coming over to welcome me back and bring me gifts of food. I received maze, posho flour (maze flour), matoke (plantains), eggs, and onions. This has continued over the last few days. Those in town hear I am back and come by to extend their welcome. I feel such a stunning sense of community here. I continue to be surprised and blessed by it.
My nearest neighbors, Annett and Grace have been in the village during this holiday and just returned a few nights ago. It was really fun for me to be on the welcoming side this time. I stood on my front porch as they came across the compound and welcomed them with hugs and much laughter. I sat in their house for a while and heard about their journey then wished them a good night.
Everywhere I go people want to hear about my trip home to America and see pictures. I carry a small photo album around with me of pictures from the wedding and a few of me sledding and spending time with my sister’s. Everyone thinks my mom is my sister in the pictures and they think I was so fat in America. They accuse of me reducing now that I’m back in Uganda and tell me how white I’ve become. The white comment is my favorite and makes me laugh because I am always told I’m white here. They call me mzungu (white person) for goodness sake. But now, after seeing all the tan I lost while home they tell me I am truly white.
On Monday I was supposed to work at the health center but I was so tired when I woke up I really had no desire to go. I slowly made my way there and was greeted enthusiastically by the staff. I told them I couldn’t stay because I had to settle in again and rest. Before I left I agreed to show them my pictures and tell them my stories. Then a mom and her baby came in and I couldn’t resist; I went straight for the baby and started work. I stayed the whole day.
Upon return I had to fetch water since I left with my jerry cans empty. I only filled two because I was hoping to get someone to fill the rest for me. However, today Annett called into my house, “Amanda, let us go fetch water.” I grabbed by jerry can and headed out to the bore hole with Annett. As I came out the door I asked if it would rain. The sky was darkening and there was thunder in the distance. Annett assured me it would not and since I am awful at predicting weather here I continued without caution. Of course, as we neared the bore hole it began to sprinkle and by the time we’d pumped our water it was a full out down pour. I grabbed my jerry can and one of Annett’s and hurried my way home. Since Ugandan’s walk so slowly and for whatever other reasons, Annett was many minutes behind me and when she returned she accused me of being so young and full of energy and perhaps I should take over getting her water and mine since I am so fast. Let me state for the record, I HATE fetching water. There is no way I will be taking this job over ever. I think I will be conveniently busy or away the next time it looks like she needs water.
And so, life continues for me here in Uganda. I am happy to be back and living among people who care about me and desire my company. Round two, here we go…