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Touchdown in Africa – a letter home

Feb 24 • 4388 views • 8 Comments on Touchdown in Africa – a letter home Africa, East Africa, Kampala, Travel, Uganda, Volunteering

Am writing from a really grubby internet cafe on the main road outside Kampala. We took a half hour walk thru the village to get here, all the kids shouting ‘Mzungu mzungu, bye!’ and waving at us. It was great fun.

Poverty is everywhere though: stalls just selling 4 tomatoes and a bunch of plantain, four people on a motorbike, enormous potholes and rubbish everywhere. My old colleagues at Laing Roads and the Waste team would have a field day here!

Had my first power cut last night – disappointingly short!! (The novelty will wear off I know).

This week we 12 new VSO volunteers are staying in relative luxury in Lweza outside Kampala in a religious conference centre. The reception area displays a calendar showing faces of all the Ugandan bishops (a must-have item for 2010 I think).

Today I had my first Luganda lesson, it was so much fun. Everything here is done with a smile on your face. Isla and I sat under the banda (like a bandstand) next to the ten feet high bamboo, watching the monkeys go by! We are learning to take life mpola mpola (slowly by slowly)…

Ugandans are so friendly and welcoming, so not the stereotpe you see on TV of Afrucans (ignore typos, keyboard is heavy with red dust!)

I love Uganda already.

Induction very interesting.  I’m bonding with some great volunteers. VSO are very good at getting us to connect and set up our own support network over here. About 30 VSO volunteers in Kampala, so life should be fun. Met British Consul yesterday so am already networking too 🙂

Food is pretty crap but no big bug scares yet.

Traditional dancers at Ndere Cultural Centre, Kampala

The traditional dancing at Ndere Cultural Centre, Kampala, blew me away. What a welcome! Photo courtesy of my friend Stephen Legg

First night went to African drum and dance show at the Ndere Cultural Centre. It was superb. I had to pinch myself – “I’m in Africa! At last!”

Even when I was on the plane I was obsessed with ramming my bags into the smallest cubby hole possible, trying to economise with every bit of available space. I kept saying to myself: “I can’t believe the months of packing (my flat / my possessions that are in storage / the stuff to bring to Uganda) are finally over!”

Gym and running have been non-existent this past month and the Ugandan diet threatens to turn me into a Big Mama very quickly (choice of 4 carbs for lunch!) Or was I supposed to eat all 4 of them? That said, maybe I’ll take up African dancing (‘the men aren’t bad looking’ as Michele will say!)

Meet my new colleagues at the Uganda Conservation Foundation on friday when we all move to our long-term accommodation. Hope to catch up with everyone more then. Don’t forget to drop me a line, one and all!

To read more about why I first came to Uganda, read The Story so Far

Are you planning to volunteer in Uganda? Are you a VSO?

Do you have any other Uganda travel tips or expat travel advice you’d like to share?

Please leave a comment here or email me via the Diary of a Muzungu Contact page if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!

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8 Responses to Touchdown in Africa – a letter home

  1. Mark says:

    Glad you finally made it Charlotte ! Now get your breath back and take time to enjoy it !

  2. sjwaller says:

    Morning Charlie

    Have tried to get into your blog without Andrews help so this is just a test run!!


  3. Charlie says:

    Hi Auntie Sally!
    Jebale! (as they say in Luganda …)
    – well done! and thaks for persevering.
    Have changed settings so you will see your comments post automatically now.
    Thought of you and John earlier, so much here reminds me of Barbados.
    Lots of love Cha x x

  4. Charlie says:

    Hey Mark, tx for your good wishes. Feel a whole lot better after the week's induction and some R&R. Keeping awake beyond 9.30 every night was a struggle but stayed up till 10.30 last night so must be acclimatising! Has been v enjoyable tho and am managing without elec nicely.

  5. […] I first arrived in Uganda as a volunteer, I very rarely called home. For some reason outbound calls from the UK to Uganda were easier. Skype […]

  6. […] years ago I first set foot in Uganda. (Is that all it’s been?) Thank you to everyone who’s been part of my […]

  7. […] The Muzungu: thanks Angela for sharing your story. It’s always interesting to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Here is one of my very first blogs about Uganda: Touchdown Africa – a letter home. […]

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