Today we woke up a little late, but then we went down to the downtown of Mityana. Simply amazing!
The market is located in a small plaza, where they sell fruits, vegetables, shoes, fish, cow meat, clothes, and every other thing one can imagine. The people walk in between the small stands through little paths of red, slippery mud. As I walked along the paths (with what seemed to be 999999 eyes staring at my every step waiting for me to trip on the mud) I smelled the people, the sweat, and depending on the stand I was passing by… fish, cow, vegetables, fruits… smog.
|The small plaza, covered with umbrellas and women in colorful dresses and little children running around. The market of Mityana!|
Photo taken by: Brittany
I heard some babies cry, people screaming in Lugandan back and forth, “mzungu mzungu!” I wish I could enclose all those smells, sounds and textures in a little box and take it back to California with me! It is all so… Uganda!
Just like automatically when I smell a cigarette I remember Uruguay, I know that these things I experienced today are going to be what will remind me of Uganda later on. I love the fact that all of this, although far from my reality, is their way of life. It makes me want to know about their daily lives! What do people do here every day? Yes, they go to get water and work on the gardens.. but anything else? I wonder what they like to eat as a treat, and what is perceived as taboo, and what their daily routine is like, and what sort of music they listen to, and what they think of foreigners, and foreigners coming to their countries, and… what do they think of themselves?
Shoes at the market. The women to the left had a tiny, beautiful baby and asked me to take a photograph of him! I later lost the picture during the "formatting accident" but it was a very sweet picture!
Photo taken by: Bryce
During our tour of the market I took some pictures, making sure to always as when I took pictures of individuals. Whenever I saw pictures of individuals in National Geographic or another similar magazine, like the famous one of the Afghan girl, I always wondered how they do it, and how the people react to it. Well, as far as I have seen, it is not so hard to ask, but the reactions can definitely not be generalized, everyone I asked reacted differently. Many, happy and shy, nodded “yes.” One man even stopped me in the street and asked me to take his picture! But others did not want my camera to get even close to them…. Like it happened at the market today.
I was just walking around, taking everything in, looking around as much as I could, trying to see everything, hear everything, experience everything… and occasionally taking some pictures of the general view. One time I was trying to get a picture of the whole market (like the ones that you see here), when, through my camera I see a woman seating in the middle of a pile of green plantains, dressed in a blue and violet traditional female Ugandan attire, holding what looked like a large (and I mean very, very large) piece of ginger (or at least that’s what I think it was) on her right hand, flinging her hand back, ready to throw it at my head and screaming angrily at me in Lugandan. I saw her through my camera and immediately took it away from my eye. The woman put down the ginger, but kept screaming at me. She did NOT want her picture taken! And I was left there standing… facing my second (and fortunately last) traumatizing experience. Of course, she didn’t know that I wasn’t taking a picture of her, and that I was actually taking a picture of the whole market and that I had not even noticed her sitting there until I saw her shaking the ginger at me through the camera. But that experience left me thinking about it the entire day. Immediately afterwards I was so in shock that I didn’t know where to turn, what to do, who to look at… should I just put the camera away? Should I ask someone the translation and mouth “sorry” to her? This might seem a little funny, but today I truly, truly realized I am in a different country.
I came to this realization through both the sight of the market and the incident with the woman. I can’t quite put it into words, and I am afraid that it will sound awfully childish and stupid when I say it, but here it goes… I realized that I was in a another country, completely unlike my own, not because of the differences in the look of it, but because of the nature of it. In other words: the poverty, the starving children, the constant smell of sweat, the unhygienic conditions of the market, and everything else that is so, so different from what I have experienced in the past was not actually what had the effect of… “snapping me back to reality.” No, at least today, it was the nature of the people. The way they think, what they see as right, as wrong, as polite, as normal, as rude, etc, etc. Just the way things are. Because, although it is unfortunately very extreme here, there is poverty everywhere, there is violence everywhere, and disease everywhere and bad living conditions everywhere. The state of each country may differ, but Uruguay, the U.S. and Uganda all include some level of those. However, what made me realize that this is truly a different place is the people, because two countries may be identical in what one can see, smell, taste and hear, but the people will always be different; the people are what make a country, and Uganda is no exception. I know this is confusing, and maybe I understand it in my own head because I have experienced it before. Migrating to the U.S. showed me that, although I may be able to point out to people what I like and dislike about each country, that I want to move back to Uruguay because of the beaches, and the food, and that I don’t like the cold in the U.S., etc, all those excuses seem so… incomplete. There is something else, apart from what can be seen and heard and that makes them different from each other, something a lot more powerful than the landscape or the weather or the economy or the education: the people. Because even if the two countries were exactly the same, I would still feel a special connection to Uruguay, because the people are like me. We think alike, see similarly on things…. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something that unites all citizens of a country, and that something cannot be explained or duplicated. Uruguayans have that, Americans do, and Ugandans do to. So, I guess that in conclusion, what made me “snap” into reality was the realization that I am a stranger here. I am not part of them, and I will never be.
Okay, I just reread that… I knew I wasn’t going to be able to properly express what I am trying to say. I do not feel sad about it, and I am not trying to segregate, or alienate Uganda. No, no, no! This was just the complicated process that my mind went through in the millisecond that I saw the woman with the ginger through my camera, and that then snowballed during the hours that followed making me realize that I am in another country. So much for such a simple realization….That’s all. And now, since I have been thinking so much about it my head is starting to hurt, and I cannot understand anything anymore... I am going to sleep.
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