A visitor to my blog, who is new to Kampala, asked for some advice on where/how to meet people. I thought I would write this wee piece and hopefully help D settle in at the same time.
The call of 'mzungu, mzungu ' no longer makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land. I hear it as I run along the dirt road, avoiding potholes and rubbish, listening to my buddy chat away over my heavy breathing. I don't feel like aforeigner, I just look it perhaps. I now feel 'at home', surrounded by my Kampala family; my friends.
When out celebrating my friend's birthday on the weekend, she toasted to her family that were celebrating with her, us, her friends. All expats feel like that I think. Having amazing adventures and experiences in wild and wonderful places is no fun if you have nobody to share it with. Our friends that we meet abroad, become our family.
So how do you meet them?
Well, I wrote a little bit about this on my Around the World post, but I will give you more details of my experiences.
The Eye Magazine is a good place to start. It is online, but the magazine is easily picked up around town (at Banana Boat and the such). There is something for everyone - ceilidh dancing, salsa lessons, sailing clubs, bowling clubs etc.
I do have to admit that as an international teacher, I do have it easy. Teachers and expat families remember what it was like in a new place and give advice on hiring staff, directions to the best hairdresser in town and numbers for their trusted tailor. But it is still so important (and refreshing) to have a life outside the 'w' thing. I joined the Hash House Harriers straight away (and I will do the same in Nairobi), a great place to meet some running buddies and friends. My yoga teacher, Helle (whose number is in The Eye) offers rooibos tea and often encourages people to stay and share after the session and get to know new faces. From yoga I met friends who were forming a book club etc etc, links to an all important social life are made.
When I first moved to Kuwait I joined anything and everything to meet people in the hope of meeting friends. The netball league, the choir and the chamber orchestra. I learnt how to dive (and went to dive socials...on quiet weeks!!), went to the Caledonian Society weekly and hashed. I then met friends and left most (not all) of those clubs! I am sure I will do something similar in Nairobi, then I will meet new people, who will hopefully become friends and then my Kenyan family. Friends to celebrate birthdays with, moan with on a rough day, train for the NYC marathon with (!!!), shop with and experience new adventures with.
I'm still a 'mzungu', but no longer a 'foreigner' in the land that I have chosen, for now, to be my home.