Even the soap in Uganda is dirty
This is a country that, no matter how hard you try, will remain dirty. The flies will always come back, even when you scrub everything with bleach. So will the smell of pee. The children will always have snot running out of their noses. Your clothes will smell like feet, even though you just washed them. Even the soap has dirt on it. Your feet will be covered in mud, even though you washed them 5 minutes ago and your hair will always be slimy. It’s impossible to dry your hands and if you have toilet paper, you’re lucky. Approximately every 2.6 minutes, a child will cough/sneeze in your face. And just try and find something to blow your nose into. Your bed will be dusty and your socks will be red like clay. It doesn’t matter if you wash the bathroom floor. There will be footprints all over it within the hour. If your fingernails get clean it’s a miracle and don’t even try to clean your toes. Don’t be surprised if you step in the mud, it won’t be the only time. If your skirt gets dirty while your trying to wash your clothes or a kid runs off with your sock, just take a deep breath. If you drop your fork in the dirt, just pick it up and keep using it. The flies on your food will never go away, so don’t bother shooing them. And just remember, when you leave Uganda, the dirt will wash off, though I wouldn’t mind if a little of it stayed on.
Riding on Bodas* with boys
Climb on a boda and pray they don’t crash. If they’re wearing a reflective vest and a helmet, you can hope they drive a little safer. Never trust that they know where you want to go when you ask and they hesitate before saying yes. They don’t know. Keep your knees in close and your arms crossed in front if you don’t want to lose them. If the driver asks if you have a boyfriend, tell him you’re married. Close your eyes when the cars get to close or you might scream and scare the boda man. Always bargain. It is not 5,000 shillings to the taxi park. It’s 3,000. Yes, I know the price, so don’t try and mess with me. I’ll just pick a different boda. It’s OK to have a terrified look on your face as you weave in and out of traffic. I think it keeps the other drivers from hitting you. And always, always, hold on tight.
*Bodas are motorcycles you can hire for transport
How to cross an Intersection
One might think that crossing the street is a relatively easy thing to do. If you’re from Chicago, you just jump in front of the cars and pray they stop. In California, they stop because they want to. Here, they don’t stop. They’ll just hit you. Apparently Uganda has never heard of a stop sign. Look to your right, not your left, before you cross or else your friend will have to rescue you from being run over. Come to an intersection and you’ll find a mass of cars coming from all directions, pressed up against each other. If you want to cross, you have to walk through them. Of course, they inch up every so often. So if you want to pass it’s helpful to put your hand on the hood of the car and look horrified. It takes a while to weave in and out of the cars. People are pushing. Horns are honking. Cars are moving. People are yelling. Up and down the street you go until you make it to the other side. And don’t forget to watch your toes! Try not to get pulled into a taxi, because everyone wants you to choose theirs. And look where you’re stepping or you could fall in a hole.
So, um, you maybe sort of want a taxi to, hmmm, how much? What?
If you want to go somewhere, don’t ask a Ugandan to take you. It will take you twice as long and you’ll never know where you’re going. Before you make it out of the driveway you’ll probably fall into a mud puddle and have to go back to wash your foot. Did you forget to mention we weren’t driving? Walk to the main road and ask a boda driver how much to the hospital. It’s perfectly acceptable to hum and hah for 10 minutes and ask a few other people. Oh yah, and by the way… our appointment started 2 minutes ago. Why are we just leaving? We had to eat lunch of course! Walk to the next road because I guess we’re taking a taxi now. Climb in and try and find a seat. You’ll find at least 14 other people in the back. Stop! Stop! We want to get off! How the heck to you tell them that? Don’t get hit by a boda when you cross the street to get a private taxi. Get in the front. Both of you. How many people can we stuff in the back? Four. Wow. There’s no place for my legs. Out the window maybe? How about on top of yours? Can you breathe? Please don’t run over the goat. That bull is looking at me funny.
Auntie, you see?
You see? You see? Yes Allen, I see that you put your shoe on. Yes Gift, I see that you are dry. Yes Anisha, I see your finger. Yes Allen, I see that you put your other shoe on. You see? You see? Yes Bridget, I see the marker. Yes Enock, I can see your picture. Yes, I still see it. I have seen it. Four times. Yes Freda, I can see. Do you see me seeing? Yes Sandra, I see what Bridget is doing. Yes Linda, I see what Bridget is doing. I am looking. Auntie, you see? Yes Allen, I see that your sweater is on. I see your picture, I see your shoe, I see you pants, I see the cat. I see what you’re doing, I have seen, I am seeing. Do you see me seeing?