A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Uganda, I will miss you!

I spent this past week in the East of Uganda for work. I had many schools to visit and they were deep in the bush which means a lot of rough roads to bump along. It was a fairly successful trip but I did come back tired. As I got out of the taxi in Gayaza and began my walk home I felt my shoulders were sagging and my legs dragged. But then I heard, “Nalubega! Kulikyu! (welcome back),” and “Nalubega, how was the journey,” and “Welcome Home, Amanda!” The enthusiastic greetings I receive after a long journey always give me energy and a big smile spreads its way across my face as I return the well wishes and engage in the greeting process once again. I feel loved in Gayaza. I am happy to have had this town as my home. There are many things I am going to miss about Uganda. The warmth and kindness I feel daily from greetings is just one such thing.

The other day, I had called Annet to check on her. From that conversation some miscommunication ensued. She thought I was bringing a friend home with me and since I’d been gone for a while she knew my house would be dusty and dirty, not what a visitor should see. So, she went to my house and swept it out, washed my floors and tidied my belongings so that it looked good for me and my visitor. She also thought I would be too tired to cook an appropriate meal for my visitor so made fresh fish and matoke for us. The only problem with this is that I didn’t bring home a visitor! But again, this hospitality and thoughtfulness is something I am going to truly miss. I feel so incredibly loved here. If everyone felt as loved as I do we would have world peace.

On a different note, some volunteers have made top 10 or top 20 lists over the years of ways you’ve adapted Uganda too much. It’s amazing the things we adjust and adapt to. I think I have embraced almost all of these “signs.” I can just add these to the list of things I will probably miss about Uganda – maybe not immediately, but in time. This is a mixture of two recent lists that were sent out to volunteers.

Top 20 signs you’ve been living in Uganda too long
20. You constantly say “somehow.”
19. You start all sentences with “Ssebo” or “Nnyabo” when addressing people.
18. You prefer latrines to toilets.
17. You consider a four hour matatu ride to be a short journey.
16. You never throw out a box or plastic bag because someone will probably use it.
15. You begin hoarding food because you aren’t sure when you will be able to get more.
14. You have to plan your day around the rain.
13. You don’t consider a taxi full until there are at least two people in the driver’s seat.
12. Your definition of a balanced diet involves three shades of starch
11. You think, “Why go all the way to the latrine to pee when I have a bucket/bush/tree right here?”
10. You stop showing up to meetings on time because you know you will be the only person there for several hours.
9. You refuse to spend an extra ki-kumi (5 cents) at the market based on principal.
8. You feel “smart” when you put on a button up and paisley skirt from the early 90's.
7. You need to clarify time by using “now now” or “just now.”
6. You ask which foods are available at a restaurant, even when you have a menu in front of you!
5. You need your cell phone when using the latrine at night. *
4. Someone asks you where the toilet is and you point with your lips.
3. You often ask, “Is power there?”
2. 8pm is the new midnight and midnight is . . .unthinkable.
1. You look both ways before crossing one-way streets . . . and sidewalks . . . and it has save your life, multiple times.

*To shed light on #5, our cell phones have a torch (flashlight) built into them

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