Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mzungu, white ants, mosquito net beddin'

Holy smokes.  I actually live in Uganda.  This is websters definition of surreal...and wonderful. :)

So the flight to Kenya was a bit of a doozy.  It was so long and I only slept for like 2 hours.  Seriously, in a period of like 48 hours of travel, I think I slept a total of 6 hours.  haha I haven't been able to sleep.  Right before I took a little nap on my way to Kenya I was starting to get a headache but I woke up two hours later feeling better.  haha  It's ridiculous a little bit.  But it doesn't bother me.  It gives me more time to think and try to process this.

So from Kenya we had like an hour layover and then had an hour flight to Entebbe, Uganda.  That's where we met up with our country directors and 2 crazy cool Ugandans named Sharon and Freddie.  We then proceeded with a 5 hour bus ride on our way to Mbale.

The bus ride was nuts.  (I'm sorry, I wish I had something cooler to say but I don't know other words to express the experience.)  Entebbe is definitely more rural and especially when we drove through Kampala, it was more city-like.  Lots of people, camouflage policemen with massive guns, stuff like that.  The transition from Entebbe to Mbale was the most insane thing to me.

First of all, the transition from rural to urban was so wildly apparent.  Entebbe was big and crowded and more industrialized.  Fast forward four hours into the drive and it was very much like I'd pictured Africa to be like in my mind.  It was crazy.  People working in fields, women and children transporting huge containers of water,  really skinny cows staked out on the side of the road, families legitimately living in cement huts with grass roofs--their home could probably fit in a quarter of our family living room.  It was difficult to watch and take it all in.  I dunno, I've seen this kind of thing on TV but it's unreal being here and seeing it right in front of you.

I guess it just really hit me.  I'm here living like this for four months.  I'm stoked about it.  This is something I've dreamt about for a really long time.  But in a sense, this is like a four month camping trip for me.  It's not my reality.  It will end for me.  But this is everyday life for the people here.  It's not a four-month deal.  I guess I just look at them and see how amazing they are and I just don't get why our everyday lives have to be so drastically different.  They're good, kind people.  It's just difficult for me to make sense of how we're all the same, but our lives are so different from day 1.

I've learned a word in Swahili:  Mzungu.  I asked Freddie if it meant "white people" and he said, "yeah, but they don't mean it in a racist way."  haha And they really don't.  It was kind of hilarious actually, we were driving through these towns/villages and people would stare, but kids (especially in the rural areas) would point at us and say, "Mzungu!"  We'd smile and wave and they'd jump up and down and smile.  It was so darling and kind of hilarious.  Yesterday we were spazing out because we saw the queen in a carriage and today cute kids call to us and are blissfully happy when they see us and especially when we acknowledge them.  Crazy.

Food.  We stopped at a place to break up the bus ride.  Everything you ordered came with three things.  the three that came with mine were matooke, rice and goat stew.  Yeah.  It cost like 4 american dollars and was more than I could eat.  I'll have to go halvsies with someone next time.  Matooke is mashed banana...but it tastes like mashed potatoes.  And the goat stew...I just poured some on the rice and it was good...just strange that I ate goat like it was no big deal.  It has been fascinating watching the people and their interactions with us.  The kids love us. But the adults seem...almost shy.  The waiter was very stand-offish.  He would rarely make eye contact with us.  I watched him standing behind our country director with the check in his hand and you could visibly see him three times getting up the nerve to give her the check.  I just think they're all so darling.  Our guard David is so great too.  He is so kind and happy.  I've only met a couple of Ugandans but thus far they're quick to smile, they laugh with you and are always so polite and kind.  They're lovely people.  I've loved any and all interactions that I've had with them thus far.

Our house is bizzanging.  I mean, I was literally expecting dirt floors and stuff...but we don't have dirt floors!  We have kind of hilariously awkward rules like we can only shower 2 times a week, we can't flush the toilet unless it's numero dos, the room where we shower doesn't have a curtain on the window--just bars, so pretty much anyone can take a gander at our whiteness, just stuff like that.  We just finished getting ready for bed.  I tied my mosquito net to my bed and got it all tucked in so I hopefully won't get eaten alive.  I've been taking my malaria pills like a champ so I hopefully won't catch that doozy.  And we tried a ugandan delicacy tonight--white ants.  Yep, they're fried ants.  Freddie says they just eat them by the handful.  It was okay.  Just kinda salty and crunchy.  And it was bigger than I thought it'd be.  It's mostly the texture that gets to you...that, and actually knowing that you're eating an ant.  Freddie said we also need to try grasshoppers.  He said, "once you have one, you can't stop."  haha We'll see.

Well I'm gonna get some sleep.  Things are going well.  I love it here.  I love the people, I can't wait to pick up more of the language, and figure out some awesome projects so we can start helping people.  In fact, our country directors said they have some projects in the works where two of us would have to go out to a little tiny village and stay there for four days.  That'd be significantly more primitive.  I think it'd be so cool but the pansy in me is wondering how I'd survive without a mosquito net. haha We'll see if I can get in on that project.  I'll keep you posted.  Love you all,


  1. all i can say is WOW i am jealous. You are awesome and i wish everyday i was there with you. You are living out my lifelong dream... keep being awesome.

  2. I'm so glad you were able to post while traveling and know you got there safely. I'm not sure I could do the showering only twice a week. Yikes. You'll have to let us know about the grasshoppers. Ha Let the adventure begin!!

  3. GO MAL!! You will be so great there! I'm glad for this amazing technology that lets us share in your experience without the mosquitoes! Keep us posted. Love you!!!!

  4. Yea for being in Uganda! I'm glad you made it safe. Thanks for all the deets about your trip, the food, and your house. I wouldn't have guessed about the 2 times a week showers or rules about flushing the toilet. That'll be different. The story about the shy waiter made me wanna give him a hug.