Overwhelmed with First Impressions:
Africa has a distinct smell. Our professors had told us about it before we came, but as we all know, it is one thing to hear about something and another to experience it. It is the smell of burning wood, mixed with some steam, like you had just put out a fire with a bucket of water. However, the intensity of sensation here is a lot less than if you were standing right by a smoldering fire pit, and a lot more homogenous; the smell is everywhere you go. The airport standing in line for a visa, inside your bus (the unwelcome but familiar scent of diesel fumes makes its way into the fun here), or in the restaurant (it seems like all of the windows are open on every building here).
We converted our money today: about 3,700 Ugandan Shillings for every dollar. I am trying to fight this inclination, but it makes you feel prideful to walk out of the bank with 185,000 shillings in your pocket. It also makes you feel vulnerable at times, especially in crowds.
Generally, things here seem to be very affordable. We went to a nice restaurant for lunch today (it was a modern-type place, with a menu that looked better than one you might find in America. Items included burgers, burritos, curries, or pasta). I could have gotten a meal-sized appetizer for somewhere around $4 equiv. The bottled water is less than a dollar (thank goodness, I can brush my teeth tonight). I was naive enough to think the gas was about a dollar a gallon, until someone pointed out that the prices-advertised probably correlated to liters of fuel. I just ran the calculation and diesel here would be around $3.80 per gallon. There are a lot of motorcycles, and many vehicles that drive by spew smoke. There are dirt roads that branch off of the main paved road – this makes for a lot of red-tinted buildings. I don’t know. This is a town atmosphere that I didn’t anticipate to notice; I certainly didn’t anticipate it to affect me. But that it did. It made everything seem much more under kept, and delicate versus buildings back home. Like the Earth was trying to swallow them up, and no-one had neither the time, money, or will to do anything about it. It made me sad. (Note: we drove by the president’s house in Entebbe this morning, the equivalent of our White House. It was spotless)
The main road was a nice road. I heard some of them were made by the Chinese in order for them to get access to minerals and oil. I’m not sure if the one we were on was “foreign” (ironic, since it cuts through the heart of the country), but it was nice. Mom and Dad: the paved section had fewer potholes than Colorado Springs! No joke.
The weather here is also what they told us it would be like. It must have been about 70-75 today, even in the sun. It feels a lot cooler than Nebraska did when we left. I should have made some bets with people before I came; everyone back home thought it was going to be sweltering.
Sleeping like Kings and Queens:
The last thing to note: sleeping under a mosquito net makes you feel like Egyptian royalty. They look like those fancy veils that would fall all around the bed, bringing the prince or princess into an ominous blurriness. Perhaps as I role play tonight, I’ll realize just how more ominous the situation would be without a net – a reality for too many Africans.
As a mosquito tries to eat me as I sit in the lobby, I’ll say goodnight! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.