The move over here has not been done lightly or without a lot of mental preparation, and I know my self well enough to know that it is not something that will just settle into normality in an instant. There has been more practicalities to organise than I could possibly have anticipated, and I am incredibly pleased that this process actually began quite a few months ago due to this.
My emotions are strong and my sleep erratic. Yet my eyes are open, my smile is wide, and my heart beats loudly.
I feel I was right to break myself in gently rather than head straight to my new physical home, as that was quite a shell-shock! Having researched Uganda as much as I could within the restraints of time and my rather full mind before I came here, I knew it to be one of the world’s poorest countries in relation to population and land capacity. And it was one of the reasons that, for me, it felt right that I wanted to come here. The UK feels so driven by competition and money, and I have witnessed myself work in at least two jobs for years now. Mentally calculating my expenditures within my head constantly, feeling like I was trapped within monetary restrictions and constantly aware of: costs; a feeling of whether or not I am deserving of the money I spend and thus often spending it on others; and how far I could make my money go. In the UK I had a great job and salary, and I created this for myself in order to manifest a physical place called ‘home’. Without this sensation, I feel lost. Totally. And I wander without any real wondering. My heart hurts instead.
But, that ‘home-life’, it was also a burden. The home cost me more than money, and I did not feel the freedom that I had presumed it would bring…perhaps because it came with its own restrictions and limitations due to being a shared home-ownership, and also a single person in this monetary respect.
Friends of mine have lived in or visited Uganda, and I have also read many times about the humility and genuinuity of its people. For me, life is not about money or things. It is about love, family in many senses of the word. And I heard the call of Uganda as representing this for me.
It pains me in some ways to be here due to the fact that my cup runneth over with this love, back in my UK home. But my perception of Uganda being about love, has so far proved to be exactly true …
I arranged to move into my new apartment at the start of the week, and, as mentioned, it was at somewhat of a difference with my anticipation. It is in a very built-up and ‘safe’ area, and it is well equipped and spacious. I am due to meet my two new housemates/colleagues next week, (they arrive later than I). I am pleased to enter into a new sisterhood, as people are what make the world go round, at least to me. But I am also more than pleased that I came here early, so that I can continue to experience what the core of Uganda is, before it feels all too ‘routine’ by going to work each day and coming home to a relatively comfortable home (and also mostly ex-pat neighbourhood).
So after a very normalised day of waiting in for repair men, I got myself on the road, albeit with a rather large feeling of nerves and trepidation…
I booked into a backpackers, on the back of a recommendation from a fellow traveler/friend and the next morning I jumped onto a bus at 6:30am to head for my first African safari.
I observed myself in the backpackers feel out of place, (it felt like such a long time since I had been within this mindset), and I did not know how to connect with the people there.
And I was sad. I missed the ease and friendliness of it.
I was also delighted and felt confirmed. I knew I was right to have made this move, as it has been far too long since I gotten back to my wandering roots. And I needed to remind myself of who I am, outside of a role, or a status determined by money and ownership.
The first day of the trip was mostly spent on the road. And I adored it. I was able to watch the changing scenery, of people and of landscape. I was able to engage in conversation with what were to become new friends or rather, family. A fellow traveller/companion unfortunately fell sick on this stage of the adventure, and the openness between her and I on instant meeting meant that she declared to me “you are already a sister to me, and I am so happy I am on this trip with you“. Together we also traveled with a family of three, all of whom were equally supportive, open and caring. And we quickly bonded as a unit. In fact, by the time we arrived at our base campsite, the owner could not tell that we were not a complete family.
It was glorious to bond so easily together, to share stories, eagerness of what was to come, and also to hold each others hand, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. My sick friend was comforted by the combined medical items that the family had brought with them, and my medical knowledge and background, boosted also my holistic knowledge too. United we agreed that we were pleased she had been on our bus where she was so naturally supported, rather than on a long-haul bus or alone somewhere. It is what I would wish for too. And I felt so pleased I was there.
The group also gave me the encouragement I needed when I felt overwhelmed, unsure, or heart-sore. The father of the family reminded me very much of my late grandad, traveling as he was across Uganda with a map for us to keep tracks of our movements on, and making itinerary notes and observations as we went. He provided me with some reassurance and grounded practical advice that I hadn’t realised I would gain so much from. The mother of the family gave love to all of us and sought our opinions and outlooks on many things that she was interested in or wanted to learn about. She guided me with maternal presence, perhaps without even realising. And between us two new sisters, we were able to give our guidance and experience to support our ‘younger new sister’ (aged 17) into our insights of the yet unknown career world ahead of her. (Hence the hand-holding between us, in our own ways).
Our days on safari were utterly spectacular, and there really are no words to describe my exhilaration and joy of it all. (I will write a follow-up gallery post to give a small insight into what we saw and the memorisation that I fell into as a result). Blessed do I feel, once more. And beyond words.
My new family are more than this group of five for sure.
- The driver who brought me from home to the hostel, Moses, happened to be at the hostel upon my return and I felt like I was reuniting with an old friend. So much so that I changed my intention of taking a boda boda to the bus station in the morning to paying a larger fare in order to travel there with him.
- The driver on our safari was a gentle man who was humble in his admittance of being unable to read, but incredibly knowledgeable about his lands and very caring in his manner of driving us on the long drives each way and across the game park.
- The ranger that took us for our first game drive took me by the hand when we stopped to buy fish from the lake for her community, laughing with me, telling me my hair is beautiful and scolding me for not oiling it, just like a mother or aunty would.
- The ranger on the boat cruise (The Nile no less!) spent most of his time answering the questions of my self and my new sister, allowing us to soak up as much of his knowledge and experience of Uganda as we could. And it felt to me like he also joined our family. We took his email and I genuinely meant it when I said I hoped to meet him again.
- And my new friend from the hotel in Entebbe, whom I previously called my guardian angel, has been beside me through the web, on this journey, guiding me on my journey and asking for guidance on his.
- Not to mention the women I am about to live with, my wondrous friends, family and beloved partner back home (who have stayed connected, and travel with me regardless of where they physically are), and some US military guys who I also met in Entebbe who have sent me regular texts to ensure that I am safe and do not need for anything.
It is entirely discombobulating for me to be starting to settle into my new home so far removed from home, and I am still averaging only 2-3 hours sleep a night through mental energy and I guess heart confusion. But I am also soothed, my heart soaring at the same time.
I won’t be here forever, and I am expanding my heart with every breath that I take. Despite tears that I am feeling behind my smile at times, or aches in my chest. Right now, my family is growing beyond words and I feel utterly blessed.