Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 1: The Firsts

May 15th, 2012
Photo taken by: Nicole
            What a day! So many things we saw, smelled, heard, tasted! I cannot believe I am here!
            The first thing that went through my mind when the airplane doors opened and we began to descend down the little yellow stairs was… HUMIDITY!
            The change was amazing.  It was humid like one of those summer days in Uruguay in which you go outside and are soaked but can´t quite figure out if it is because it is about to rain, raining, or that you are simply sweating like a pig.  In other words, it was welcoming, I felt at home.
I lost my picture of the first step, but Brittany took one!
Photo taken by: Brittany
            Before leaving California I promised my friend Erynn that I would take a picture of my first step in Africa.  What I wasn´t expecting was that picture to come along with an anecdote: I was walking down the yellow staircase, and as I reached the last step I brought my camera to my eye and right as I stepped onto the ground I snapped a picture of my red slipper stepping onto the black Ugandan asphalt.  I was happy, that picture somehow made being here more real, although the fact was far, far from sinking in.  I was still pondering this (in the millisecond that it took to snap the photograph) when I look up and a women, airport personnel, points at me with her finger, her face about 20 cm away from mine, and says in a loud and demanding voice “No cameras! Put it away!”  I am not kidding when I say that the lady was angry, very, very mad.  So there I was, with my first traumatizing experience, but happy as can be, and the lady looking at me as if pondering to confiscate my camera.  For the first “shock,” it was far, far different from what I expected my it to be, but at least I’ll be able to look back at it and laugh.  I wish I had seen my face, I bet it was pretty funny. (Fortunately, this was one of only 2 of what I call “traumatizing experiences” on the whole trip, or in other words, instances that left me confused, guilty and disoriented, not knowing what to do)
            But finally we got in, went to immigration and met with Father Kizito, Sister Christine, Sylvia and two other nuns.  They were so happy to see us! We hugged everyone, twice, once on each side, and headed towards the bus.   It was Sylvia’s birthday so on our way we sang her “happy Birthday.”
            All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Sylvia memorized all of our names, and began taking out little gifts from her purse.  She would call out a name and give that person a gift.  She gave mi a little blue beaded bracelet that I still have on.
            Then we went to visit a church in Kampala. Beautiful! And two guys showed us around and taught us about the symbols on the windows, the statues, the Ugandan martyrs, etc.  It impressed just how important the Ugandan martyrs are!  There were  talking about the entire time, they were on the windows, and on the statues, and on the altar, and even the people on the street were talking about them to us!
            After stopping to eat breakfast, bread with jam, papayas, and eggs, we kept going on our way to Mityana.
             The sides of the streets of Kamapala are lined with little stands of fruit, a lot of tomatoes, plantains and other vegetables.  Above all however, it was full of people!  Everywhere!  Many in motorcycles, called boda bodas and used similar to a taxi, and many vans, like buses.  Speaking of cars, it is weird to be driving on the other side of the street, I keep on thinking that we are going to crash because we are going the wrong way!  Also, gas here is apparently really expensive.  If they do not even have money to buy food, and gas is that expensive... how do they afford it?  The socioeconomic difference between the people I saw on the street and the few inside the cars must be huge! 
U$1= $2500 Ugandan schillings.
            But what impressed me the most was the not poverty of the people, living among trash and dirt, in tiny huts that seem fragile enough to be blown away by any small breeze or the incredibly large number of people everywhere. No, it was none of that, because what impressed me most was the abundance of ironies that I see everywhere we go.
            Among the dirt, the trash, the women carrying heavy baskets on their heads, the little fruit stands along the road and the smog, appeared Lexuses and Merdeces Benz!  It left be completely perplexed when I first saw it!  (most of them I saw them at the gas stations with the expensive gas)  How is it possible that in a country as poor as this one there are luxury cars?  Or actually, how is it that this country is so poor and that there are so many people suffering when fancy cars are driving on the roads? Because not all of the people driving the cars were American, or European, mzungu, as one may have thought. No! Many of them are Ugandan!  I am not trying to say that people in Uganda should not have the privilege of driving such cars, not at all!  If they are well of then they should enjoy it! I am not blaming anyone, not the rich or the poor, I am simply making an observation.  An observation of the reality, not only in Uganda, but in the entire world.  A reality that I know about, see in Uruguay ( but most certainly not to such an extreme), but have never experienced anywhere else, since Marin, although one may say there is a economic gap, it is basically inexistent in comparison.  In other words, although I know that this happens elsewhere in the world apart from Uruguay, where I don’t really think about it since that is just how things have always been, it is sad to have that confirmed here in Uganda.   Of course, like in every country, there seems to be a high class with great economic power, and at the same time, the majority of the people, living under almost inhumane conditions, considering the fact that not may seem to have clean water.   That’s it.  It’s the water issue that shocked me the most.  Because in Uruguay, yes there are the very, very rich people that buy the expensive cloth and have vacation homes in Punta del Este, and then the poor who live in the garbage dumps, but no matter how much money you make, or how lucky you are, both beggars and celebrities drink the exact same water.  That’s the shocking difference here! There are those that have the fancy cars, the money to buy gas, TV’s and computes, and then there are those that drink the muddy and dirty water from streams and puddles.

Don´t forget to Like my Facebook page to all of the pictures!
No se olviden de ir a mi página de Facebook, ahí están todas las fotos! 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting observation about the water, Mane. Keep it up, I'm enjoying it very much!
    (watch out for spelling mistakes! jejejeje)