Mischievous Acholi children, the sweetest mangos and pineapples I’ve ever eaten, speeding bodas, the roaring Nile river, burning mosquito bites, a sky bigger and more mysterious than I have ever seen, and dirt…everywhere—these are some of the things I have encountered while living in Gulu, Uganda for the past week.
I’ve been to the bustling market here a few times. It’s located in the center of this small town, which is made up of about five blocks at the most, with small dirt roads winding out of it. There is more under those roofs than should ever be crammed into one space! The smells make me dizzy and my eyes can’t stop searching over the colors and odd shapes of food and different items laying on hard surfaces. I often hear the word “mzungu” or “muno,” which means “white person,” as I walk by the vendors and anyone on the street.
Riding bodas are a very easy way of quick transportation here. For 1000UgSh (Ugandan Shillings) I can get a personal motorcycle ride anywhere in Gulu!***2000 UgSh = $1.00***These racing bodas often have no perception of the word SLOW and everyone here driving a vehicle of any sort definitely has the right of way, there is no arguing.
The Internet works pretty well in my duplex, however it is rare to have running water and electricity at the same time. Convenient, right? I’ve grown accustomed to bathing from little tubs with the use of jerry cans filled with water from a boar hole! I share this humble abode with two others, Dustyn and Rachel. Rachel and I share a room together that contains two small beds, complete with charming mosquito nets, of course.
The traditional Ugandan food is pretty simple but tasty nonetheless. My favorite traditional meal that I have had so far is pilao, which consists of dirty rice, goat, and pinto-like beans (mine obviously came without the goat). I’ve also had plenty of avocado and tomato sandwiches, Indian and Ethiopian food, and rolex’s! A rolex has to be my second favorite meal. It’s chipati bread rolled up with egg, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers—the greasier the better, apparently!
I still haven’t gotten my bearings completely, which is unusual for me. On Friday I walked to town by myself and went into the ARLPI (Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative) to see when I could start volunteering for them in their office and out in the field.***ARLPI has been very busy however writing to Obama and the U.S. government after President Obama recently passed a bill concerning the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and NGO”s in America and Uganda.***To my dismay the volunteer job is not certain, even though it was expressed it would be. I’ll find out this Friday whether or not my assistance will be needed. I’m really worried about this situation but am hoping things will work out to my advantage.
This weekend I’ll be traveling 5 hours on a bus to Kampala to explore that area of Uganda. It’s definitely more urbanized and in a sense more Amercanized (complete with Mexican food and a movie theater). I’m really excited to see what this city has to offer!
Being in Gulu, even for a week, has made me miss many things about the U.S. but I have to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to be in Uganda. My soul, whether it always realizes it or not, is growing each day that I am here. I’m eager to see how much my perception of the world will change after leaving this place I must now call home.