Welcome to Uganda!
So, this is where I am for now, Uganda. Thank you for visiting-I hope you get to go Around the World in Day. What a cool concept. For more expat posts from around the world, click on Happy Homemaker UK's link My post today is a bit about ex-pat life in Uganda. Sorry if it jumps around a bit, I hope that you still enjoy the party!
It's All About Me!
I have spent over half my life abroad. The Scottish accent, that was never really clear to begin with, is now hardly detectable, like for many ex-pats, it has now become 'international'. There are many expats in Kampala. Many people that come with a few belongs and buy a few more, to sell when they move in a few years. Not many that call Kampala their home. Kampala also attracts many short-timers; those that come for 6 months, or maybe even a year, with their 30kg of luggage. It is hard to make friends with people in that category; you can't even plan a tennis game with them as they might leave any day.
It only takes you three months to become a regular at yoga classes. It will only take one month to be forgotten; the way it is when so many people come and go.
Pearls in Africa
It is easy to live in Uganda. Everyone can afford to have staff to shop for you, cook your food, clean the house and guard you when when you sleep. You can always get someone to help, with a smile, a "Wabali" and a coin or two. You can go to work, play tennis, have a swim and still have time to go out for dinner with friends, in one of the many restaurants (never short of choices on that front!).
Yet, it can be frustrating as hell, living here, sometimes. But it can be anywhere, when you've had 'one of those days'.
When the pot holes seem bigger, the queue is even slower, the teaching assistant is asleep in the library, the boda-boda swerved a little too close in front of you, there is no water and the power is off...again. Nobody has the responsibility and power to solve your problem, everyone is late because of the rain, everyone is late because of the heat or the traffic police are 'directing' traffic. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but these are just reminders that Africa is just outside the door. Red roads, dust and dirt.
|The man by my road that makes bricks.|
In Kampala you go by the rule of 'one job per day' (that is, if you have to do any yourself!); a visit to the bank or going to the post office,taking books to the exchange, going to the Surgery etc. Keep it simple and you will stay sane.
Kampala is a means to Uganda; for quiet safari and wide open spaces. There is no denying why Uganda is the Pearl of Africa.
|Kisses at Kidepo National Park|
A Developing Nation
Kampala is changing at such a rate that so much of the country; like the infrastructure, can't cope. New roads are being built, but not fast enough to cope with the rising number of cars on the road. New bars and restaurants are being opened for the rising young middle-class Ugandans to spend their money in and more art work is being bought by oil rich ex-pats. Even I have seen it change; the bi-pass opened, turning a quiet dusty road that I used to run on, into a busy main road. Nobody is sure how the oil money will effect Uganda's development, everyone waits with baited breath.
|Love them or hate them, the boda-boda is|
a sure way of avoiding jams.
You learn a new language when you live in Kampala, this is not Lugandan, but a type of Uganglish. You start saying things like "slope down", "now now", "thisaone", "ju-is" and "bis-quit". It makes things easier, but you must remember to stop using this Uganglish once you step on an airplane!
Tips and Tricks
Everyone will have their own experiences and advice about living in any country. Bring high heels, don't bring high heels, bring a hat (yes, do this for the Goat Races, the event of the year!), take antimalarials, take vitamin B, bring a tent, bring bedlinen and duvets, don't bring winter clothes... etc etc. I'm not going to give lists of advice, if you would like to ask a question though, please do. What I will say is...hand washing will ruin your clothes, even though it is VERY expensive to buy a machine here, do it...or forever hold your moans!
Anyhow, finding all the best restaurants,the short cuts in town, the most popular hairdresser, is part of the fun and adventure of being an ex-pat. You meet people in your new host home, you ask them, then you meet up again. Wouldn't it be boring if you were handed a book full of do's and don'ts. A little advice is enough. Too much is scary and overwhelming.
I rely on the odd care package from friends and family; Marks and Spencer's underwear, creamy chocolate and shortbread. The post has always arrived, it may just be a few months late. Funnily enough, my Runner's World and Self magazines (American editions) ALWAYS arrive on time.
|I get so spoilt! These packages arrived with |
Christmas gifts in March!
|Road side shopping in Uganda|
|I get a bit excited in shops when I find unusual|
items...and Irn bru!
The Social Side of Life
One question I have been asked is; whether you make friends with local Ugandans. My answer to this is; Ugandans are very friendly people. If you have things in common then you will easily become friends. Many Ugandans go to church, so this is where you may meet some new friends. If you don't have anything in common with a person, usually you don't become good friends, whether they are ex-pats or locals. If you met people before in the last place you lived, you will meet people again here. There are lots of organised events; like this morning I ran a 10km fun run with Alliance Francais, a passport in my hand, getting stamps at the different embassies...fun! Oui - je parle Francais en Ougandan!! There are book clubs, balls, a strong Hash House Harriers, yoga classes, country clubs, sailing clubs and if all else fails...the Irish pub.
I'm leaving Kampala at the end of June and moving to Nairobi. I will be sad to say goodbye but excited to move on. I could easily stay longer in this country, but it is nice knowing I'll only be across the border. I already have my first weekend visit (back) booked!