“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
-Karen Blixon, author of Out of Africa.
Uganda itself was a wonderful change from Rwanda. I have begun a love affair with Rwanda, but one cannot deny that living in its political landscape and only 21 years post-genocide is incredibly heavy. Getting away is necessary to come back and love it again.
I initially wasn't too thrilled to only be crossing the northern border into Uganda - I had hopes of South Africa or Dubai to get really far away from our tiny landlocked country. When discussing with my friend, though, we decided Uganda was the best bet because of finances and flight schedules. What a great decision it ended up being! While similar in terrain, Uganda is vastly different in society and culture.
Because of their interesting historical ties to each other and different paths towards a similar goal, Ugandans and Rwandans have very differing opinions of each other. When in Uganda, when i told people that I live in Rwanda the response was a downtrodden face of pity usually accompanied with an, "ohh," sound. When pressed further they said something along the lines of, "Rwanda is opp-ress-ed/stifled/backward/etc." When I returned to Rwanda and told people I had been in Uganda they either had family in Uganda or came from Uganda (historically huge diaspora re-entry population post-genocide) and wanted to know where I had visited, or they reacted with, "Uganda is so messy/crazy/chaotic,etc."
And you know what, both are right.
For an expat, being in Uganda was like a breathe of fresh air. There is street food (illegal in Rwanda), there is music on the streets, people laugh at everything (Rwandans are understandably stoic), moto taxis don't have helmets and can carry two people, it was ALIVE. This freedom also brings more worries of petty crime and social unrest - but that is the cost of freedom of expression. In Rwanda, I don't worry about petty crime or unrest - but that is because any opposition to the way of the land is...taken care of. We are under control, quit literally. This is the cost of rapid development.
My take away from Uganda was that I should never judge a country by its proximity. Two different lands can exist side by side. Also, that a traveler should take note to listen to the people where he/she is traveling and get their perspectives - though taken with a grain of salt understanding historical and political leanings. It was all so interesting. Uganda is beautiful and vibrant. Uganda is friendly and delicious. Uganda is messy and loud and chaotic and tumultuous.
I loved it. If given the chance...GO!
Have some pics...
|my fabulous travel buddy|
|pork for sale|
|Where the first Tarzan was filmed|
|fish eaten with our hands - delish!|
|a little Christmas spirit|
|at the equator|
|meat on a stick sold to cars|
|where Lake Victoria and the Nile River meet|
|Street food!! A travelers dream!|
I never thought I would be spending Christmas with another redhead in Uganda. But life is full of surprises!