Things that have been easier than expected in Uganda

It has almost been two months since we moved from Vancouver, BC to Tekera, Uganda. Some things have been new and some things have been difficult, but here are things that have been easier than we expected:

  • Driving: Initially, our expectations of driving in Uganda were true to reality. There were few rules and even fewer courtesies and they drove on the “wrong” side of the road. However, once I started to drive myself I began to see that much – but not all – of the erratic driving was a result of the road not the driver (I swear I am not trying to defend my own erratic driving here). So, even though I have little redeeming to say about drivers at night and drivers of big trucks or buses – which should be avoided at all times – as long as you expect bad roads and erratic driving then it is manageable at the very least. I just look at driving as an adventure that requires a lot of focus all the time. Surprisingly, this makes driving long distances in Uganda much easier than in Canada because even though driving is much more difficult here, the road requires so much of your attention that you don’t feel the same mind-numbing monotony that you get on Canada’s endless highways.
  • Navigating around Kampala: Speaking of terrible roads and even worse traffic, Kampala is notorious for its incomprehensible driving. Kampala is a city of approximately 2-5 million people (depending on whom you ask) and there is no organization nor logic to the way the city is laid out. In addition, there are no street signs to orient yourself if you are lost. Having said that, Krista and I enjoy Kampala very much and we (or should I say “I”) have managed to get a good grasp of the geography of the city in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Bugs, insects, and mosquitoes: It seems somewhat strange to say that dealing with the bugs in the African countryside has been easier than expected. We still have lizards/bats/cockroaches/millipedes/beetles/ants/moths/hornets/bees in our house, and I recently got a “jigger” – a tiny bug that buries itself underneath your skin in order to lay eggs – dislodged from my toe, but despite that we still think the bugs have not been too bad. The biggest reason we say this is that the mosquitoes have not been too bad – although, they are getting worse during the rainy season – but another reason has to do with our rural setting. The rules change when you are in the countryside. It is very similar to camping – what you are willing to put up with when you are camping is not necessarily the same when you are in the city.
  • Cold showers: I speak for myself here because Krista usually boils water and mixes it in a basin with cold water, but cold showers are actually quite refreshing – as long as you don’t shower early in the morning or for very long.
  • Food: To be honest, our expectations when it came to the food were quite low. However, as with everything in life, low expectations simply lower the threshold to happiness (something I continually remind Krista of in our marriage). Our breakfasts primarily consist of oatmeal with bananas and g-nuts or pan-fried toast (we have no toaster); our lunches are the same everyday and is a combination of rice, matooke, porsho, beans, g-nut sauce, and fresh pineapple; and our dinners usually rotate between pasta, lentils with fried potato wedges, and a stew that I don’t really know how to describe. We are starting to get more creative with the food and Krista even has hopes of baking a cake without an oven, but for the time being the produce remains the redeemer factor when it comes to the food. The giant avocados, fresh pineapple, mangoes, and bananas are usually enough to get us through our cheese, yoghourt, and cereal withdrawal.

– Paul

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