I’m typing this as I wait in the transit area of Nairobi International Airport, en route back to Abu Dhabi before heading home to Melbourne. I had planned to just have a rest and a not-nap for the two-hour layover…only to realise that my flight had been delayed by an extra three hours. So Sarah, sorry for even contemplating letting you down by not writing this until I got back home. But hey, keeping with tradition, I’m at a cafe multitasking as usual.
Looking back, the almost-month that I have spent in Uganda has been an eye-opening experience, just like my friend Garreth (who pushed me to apply for this internship, and later to accept it) had forewarned me. It was a 50/50 chance of whether I would come to love or hate it in Kampala, but despite that, it would become an experience that I would always look back on.
To Sandra, I can’t wait to see how far you go with your passion for fashion. As I told you before, I will be your number one customer when the time comes and you create your own fashion line and shop.
To Meg, thank you for your vision and for allowing me to take part in it. I had no idea what I signed up for when I first sent you that email about the photographer/videographer internship. I definitely wasn’t anticipating the incredible experience that I had in Kampala. Hopefully we will be able to meet soon, either in Uganda or South Africa or the US!
And finally to Sarah. I never expected to have so much fun (and catch up on so much sleep that I missed) when I arrived in Uganda for the internship. You were stuck with me every waking minute for 3.5 weeks and survived it like a champ. It was slightly scary how attuned we became towards the end with love of naps, coffee, movies and takeouts. Thank you for making sure that I had the full tourist experience in-between writing blog posts and organising photoshoots and waiting for cotton to grow. It was incredible working with you and hanging out with you these past few weeks and I hope to be able to return again some time soon.
To end, here are some things that I have learnt in my short time in Kampala (or, what every foreigner to Uganda should know arriving):
- No matter if you’ve been in Kampala for 1 week or 1 year, you will stand out among the sea of locals. This means that:
- Shop vendors, matatus and bodaboda drivers will try to rip you off, so make sure you go in with a friend or at least an idea of approximately how much you should be paying.
- Pretty much everyone will call you “mzungu” (foreigner/white person). Don’t take it personally - it’s really the tone of the people using the word that matters. (A little girl that lived across from us would always call us “mzungu” because our names were a little difficult for her to remember.)
- The 14 passengers that a taxi can legally carry does not (officially) include babies, children, sacks of potatoes and chicken.
- If you do not have a helmet, headscarves and sunglasses will be your best friends when riding a bodaboda. Your eyes will thank me for it later.
- If there’s a change of rain, don’t wear those really nice, flimsy sandals - the dirt roads will not be nice to them.
- Following that, I had the best luck of being rained on every time I wear a white shirt. You might find your own pattern.
- Make sure to try Ugandan food, no matter how different it might seem from your daily diet or how much starch there is on one plate. I didn’t love all of it, but I could definitely eat rice and beans all day. (Ok, maybe not all day, but it was still yummy.)
- No matter how much you try to plan things, more likely than not they will not go to plan. (Example: A planned 30-minute short stop at the cotton factory to pick up fabric ended up being a 2-hour ordeal that we had not anticipated.)
- Following that, a lot of time is spent waiting in Kampala. Don’t take it personally. Bring a book (or eBook) with you everywhere you go.
- The cafes with relatively good Internet (and food) are:
- Prunes Cafe
- The Bistro (opposite Acacia Mall)
- Java House
- Airtime and data = the same thing. You buy airtime and that can either be used as phone credit or it can be converted into mobile data (for MTN, dial *150#)
The last time (for now), much love,