I arrived to my new home last night after sitting in Kampala traffic for 1.5-2hrs! Got in around 9pm where I met my new land lady, Beatrice, her boyfriend, Marius, their adorable daughter Malaika, and one of our housemates, Noan. Beatrice runs two houses including the house where I live – called Muzuri Kampala Shared Flats.
I dropped my bags in my room and immediately needed a snack – toast, of course! Beatrice provides some basics for us at a very reasonable monthly cost – clean water, toilet paper, fresh baked bread. I spent the rest of my evening unpacking and attempting to make my room somewhat ‘lived in’. It felt strange of course, and feelings of unease would not release from my chest. This probably had much to do with my 40 hour transit, and lack of sleep, but arriving at a place you know to be your new home, when nothing feels like home, is quite terrifying. It didn’t help much that I realized I had forgotten all of the photographs I had planned to bring with me, so I am stuck with no photos of my friends and family! But what are photos if not proof of memories? They are in my heart, which is enough, always.
I will not lie, I cried. I sat on my bed and wept at all that I had left behind, and the strength I knew I needed to push onward and create this journey for myself. I opened the letter from Jake, which only made me cry more, but also empowered me to remember why I am here. My purpose.
I awoke with new energy, ready to tackle Kampala. Walking around the house and the grounds in bare feet reminded me of where I am, and the beauty in it all. The gardens are filled with beans, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, cabbage, sugar cane and a big jackfruit tree. After gaining my bearings, I was ready to explore beyond our compound. Beatrice called me a bodaboda and I rode into town for the necessities: phone, internet and food. I smiled as the wind blew in my hair (under my helmet) and the sun warmed my skin. The vibrancy of Kampala all around me. Julias, my boda driver, made me feel safe and drove carefully using all his signals. This put me at ease, knowing that many accidents in Kampala are harmful to boda drivers and passengers. But truly, getting around Kampala is simply impractical without the use of bodas! Exercising caution is the duty of the driver and passengers – and I definitey tell him when I feel unsafe! 😉
After a tenuous day of setting up my mobile, internet dongle, exchanging money, buying groceries, I am feeling more and more settled. I arrived home around 5pm where I walked through the house and gardens to take photos for all of you! While walking through the garden, I met Kathleen, an American girl who lives at the ‘upper house’ – the second Muzuri house just up the street from where I live. She showed me her harvest – kale, basil…and the compost pile she’s been working on! Obviously, we both gushed about our love of compost and we made plans to build a structure for the pile using some wood and chicken wire.
That night I cooked with Beatrice – we were each making dishes to bring to the upper house for dinner before going out. Baked beet chips with a spiced yogurt dip! At the upper house, people were milling about, having drinks, all sharing how we each find ourselves in Uganda. There was so many people, it was quite hard to remember everyone’s names: Kathleen, Rachel, Eefka, Anika, Destreet, Sarah, Melinda, Zac, Liam…some 23 people representing many parts of the world, Germany, England, Netherlands, US, and more. After getting to know everyone a little bit better, we headed to Big Mike’s, a common expat bar in Kampala. After a few drinks, Destreet, a local Kampala artist, helped me find a taxi and I headed home with my driver, Jerome. I skyped with Jake for the first time since my arrival, and then had a restful night sleep! 🙂
So what are my feelings/thoughts so far? Well, I truly could not have found a more perfect place to live. Beatrice is extremely well-connected and I feel like I have jumped into a pool of friends who are kind, interesting, and here doing extraordinary work – medical clinicians, agriculural economists, justice economists, social behavioural specialists. The overwhelming feeling of community and connectedness is immensley promising. It ensures me that not only will I have an experience that is personally inspiring, but also that my work will thrive here. Tomorrow I plan to run my first experiment, I am itching to do some work! Updates to follow 🙂