Friday, 14 May 2010

Nearing the End of our Ugandan Adventure :-(

It's now less than four weeks until we fly back to Heathrow - Volcanoes and BA strikes permitting. I'm feeling a mixture of excitement and sadness at leaving this wonderful country.

Work-wise, there's not much left for me to do here - all the teaching finished last week, and the students have sat my 'Solid Dosage Forms' exam...believe me, that subject is even duller than it sounds! I've even finished all my marking, as I wanted to make sure I had everything organised well before we left. So I've got a fair bit of time to reminisce about the 15 and a half months we've spent in Uganda.

Here are some of my thoughts....

Things I'll Miss About Uganda

1. The fantastic people we've had the chance to get to know since we've been here
  • Especially our colleagues, the students, the other VSO volunteers in our area, our friends from the compound we live on, Gertrude our cleaning lady, Peter the taxi-man (who always cheers me up with his insane banter) and so many others
2. The wonderful climate

  • Who can complain about having warm sunny weather all year round?!
3. The amazing fruit

  • Pineapples never tasted so good
4. The stars

  • The complete lack of street lights mean you see thousands of stars in the sky at night
5. The rain!

  • I will miss the way the rain just starts like someone has turned on a huge power-shower in the sky
  • I'll also miss people not bothering to go to work, lectures etc when it rains!
6. The stunning wildlife

  • It’s an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning when you’re on holiday and see hippos and elephants right outside your room
7. Swimming in lakes without getting hypothermia

  • Lake Bunyonyi has to be one of our favourite places in the world
8. Rolexes (not of the watch type!)

  • For those of you who have not been introduced to the humble rolex, it is an omelette rolled up in a chapatti, and is very tasty indeed
9. Cheap beer and muchomo (Jason told me to put this one!)

  • We really enjoy going to Peers Bar after a hard (!) day at work and having a few cold beers (for about 60p each) and barbecued goat or pork (or omelette for me)
10. Not having to commute in slow traffic to get to work

  • As we live just across the road from the university, it only takes us a couple of minutes to get to work in the morning - no excuse for being late then....
11. The very relaxed pace of life

  • We've both been significantly less stressed since we've been in Uganda - everything is so relaxed it's almost horizontal...
12. Boda-bodas

  • Also known as motorbike taxis
  • Probably the quickest, easiest and cheapest form of transport, and great fun (unless you fall off like Jason did once...)
13. The amount of free time we seem to have

  • Possibly due to the fact that we have no TV!

Things I won't miss about Uganda

1. Being shouted at every time we walk down the street

  • While the word ‘Muzungu!’ is not offensive, it does get a little bit tiring when you hear it day after day, wherever you go
2. Nearly getting run over every time we cross the road

  • Especially on the zebra crossing outside the university
3. The insects

  • Nasty little cockroaches…
4. The power cuts

  • Very inconvenient, especially as we can’t heat water for showers (leading to a grumpy Anna)
5. The terrible roads and complete lack of pavements

6. The long, drawn-out meetings

  • People arrive at least 30 minutes late, then you have to have an opening prayer before scrutinising the minutes for punctuation errors etc., then the long meeting begins where everyone feels they have to say something (no matter how irrelevant it is)
  • Example: The curriculum review meeting where a doctor stood up and proceeded to tell the Nursing Department that all their students were old and miserable…..I wanted to punch him!
7. The rigmarole of ‘pasteurising’ the milk we buy
  • Pasteurised milk not available here, and the UHT is expensive and vile, so we buy fresh milk in town
  • When we get home, we have to sieve it (to remove cow hairs), boil it (to make it safe), leave it to cool, sieve it again to get rid of the skin, then finally pour it into a bottle and stick it in the fridge (about 4 hours later)
8. Ordering food in a restaurant and having to wait hours for it
  • And the waiter may tell you after an hour that what you wanted is ‘finished’, so you have to re-order and wait another two hours….
9. Going shopping in town, and feeling completely uninspired by the choice of stuff to buy

  • So, dinner’s going to be another variation on a theme of onions, green peppers, tomatoes with pasta/rice/potatoes then?!
10. Hand washing clothes
  • Well, we have someone to wash most of our clothes for us, but they end up stretched out of shape, faded and holey
11. The lack of decent chocolate

  • The chemicals they put in Cadbury’s to stop it melting in hot countries really makes it taste horrible
12. The trauma of travelling to places by public transport

  • Overcrowded, smelly buses that go far too fast on really bumpy roads
13. Our horrendously uncomfortable sofa and armchairs
  • Numb bums!

I've just realised that I have put far too much in the ‘Things I won’t miss’ list – as you can see, most of them are just petty little things (compared to the huge fantastic things on the first list), and we really will miss this lovely country.

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