Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Adventures of the Hawk and J-Boy: The Makude Chronicles

            After another exhilarating but exhausting day I stagger towards my bed and crash, entering a Sleeping Beauty like slumber before my head even contacts pillow.  When I open my eyes I am bewildered by the mosquito netting around my bed.  I scratch my head as I here the bustle of the city below me, and foreign voices filter through the open window.  Then it hits me.  I am in Uganda!  This was my daily routine for my first few days in country.  Every day has been filled with excitement and exhaustion, and every morning puzzlement and exhilaration.
            We began our journey in the capital of Kampala, in the heart of the country. Cars and boda bodas, small motorcycles that are used as taxis, swarmed by like army ants after breadcrumbs. In Kampala there was barely a right side of the street, little let a pedestrians right of way, and crossing the road was a task that would make Felix Baumgartner sweat.  However, after we mastered the art of crossing (get behind a local and pray) the city truly opened up.   We were able to explore a city full of too busy people, cheesy shopping centers, and oddly all English advertising.  It was surprisingly like the US in many ways.  There were many other ways however, both amazing and terrible, in which it wasn’t. 
            In Kampala I found some amazing friends in my fellow researchers, even Ishaq, and I finally had the chance to experience another country and culture for the first time.  I don’t count my trips to Canada as real travel because it is basically just America’s hat.  I have also found joy in seeing the ways in which people live a happy existence despite their lack of material wealth.  Everyone but the poorest dressed with a style that made me look like a derelict, and even houses made of the most banal, grey cement were livened up by colorful trim or windows.  The city also had lively open-air markets in which we could test our haggling abilities and meet locals.

On the other hand, I was also confronted with true, widespread poverty and inequality for the first time in my life.  Castle like compounds stood just blocks away from corners in which half-dead people lied face down in the streets.  Mothers sat on corners with young children dressed in rags whom accosted passerby’s and begged for change. Because of these reasons, I was rather excited when we got to leave Kampala early and head to our research site in Ishaka.  Ishaka has been amazing, and it is by far one of the most, if not the most, beautiful place I have ever seen.  It may even give Glacier a run for its money.  Besides the beautiful scenery, the people, food, and project that we are working on here are all also absolutely incredible. Everyday I have been here has been better than the last.  This is going to be quite the summer.

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