Arriving at your destination at night after 27 straight hours of travel plays tricks on your senses. I don’t know if it’s the strong link that always exists between smells and memories or if the darkness required my nose to overcompensate for my lack of sight, but the smells right after deplaning at Entebbe brought a flood.
That nostalgia only multiplied when, after claiming our baggage, we found Herbert, our ever-knowledgeable guiding light through Uganda. Hugging Herbert is when I realized how much I’ve missed this place.
Waking up this morning to roosters crowing, fresh pineapple and 50 shades of lush green landscape outside my window is what really made it apparent that landing in Entebbe and seeing Herbert wasn’t just another malaria medication-induced hallucination.
Seeing all the students’ reactions to commonplace things in Uganda that I got used to last summer gives me an idea of just how lucky I am to be back here. Yes, that’s a 3-year-od with an infant on her back; yes, that’s a woman with a giant basket of mangoes on her head and yes, that bird is the size of an 8-year-old child.
Today we visited the Ugandan Martyrs Shrines and a university. The college looked to be in rough shape, although it’s said to be the eighth best college on the continent (the first six are in South Africa and the seventh is in Egypt). I’m not sure how much of an advantage a college education gives a student here anyway, considering their unemployment rate is a staggering 40 percent.
I think the unfairness of it all really isn’t what my mind is struggling with this year. After all, it took 27 hours of airtime to get here, so it’s pretty clear that this place exists in a world completely outside my own. It’s not that the way of life that I’m used to is the right way, it’s just what I know. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong? I’m not sure if they came to America and saw the way we live that they would think it was that great. It’s more than just a difference in lifestyle, it’s a difference in fundamental values .