Though Africa always called me to the vastness of wilderness, Uganda was never in my dreams, not even in my nightmares. Yet, I fell in love with the Pearl of Africa during my very early days in the country. Every time someone asks me about the living conditions in that small beautiful country, I catch my breath and become loquacious. Through this post I am trying express my first impressions of Uganda to the world.
I moved to Uganda in 2008 for professional reasons. Not so prepared to be in the country that was once ruined by its ruthless ruler through mass murder and oppression, I was a bit reluctant to take up the opportunity. Looking down through the window of our airplane, just before landing in Entebbe International Airport, I recalled the Operation Entebbe mission that I read on Internet. Things were changed since the end of Idi Amin’s era, but I had never been to Uganda.
You will read a lot of stories that I enjoyed in Uganda in this blog. I stayed in Uganda for more than two years and explored quite a bit of this country from the wilderness of Murchison Falls to the snowy peaks of Rwenzori Mountains, and from the crowded streets of Kampala to the bubbling waters at the Source of River Nile.
My First Impressions of Uganda
Uganda has only rainy days and sunny days
I was surprised to listen Peter, our driver, when he said, “Uganda has only two seasons – the rainy days and the sunny days”. Sitting on his van, during our first travel to Kampala from Entebbe, I looked out to see the showering clouds. It was a sudden pour and the traffic was a mess.
After living in the country for more than two years, I realized what Peter said on our first day in Uganda. Uganda has no extremes. The country is usually sunny with temperature mostly kept under 29 degrees. However, during the months from March to May, this equatorial nation receives adequate rainfall.
There is no hurry
Even in that messy traffic jam, Peter was cool and did not overreact to the situation. He kept a smile on his face and played with his fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythm of music that filled his van from the radio.
Ugandan’s are pretty cool and calm. Most Ugandan’s, that I worked with or I have met, are nice and simple. They don’t prefer taking stress and so the life in Uganda is usually relaxed. The only problem is that you may not get your work done at the pace you are expecting.
As Peter drove his car diligently through the traffic, I looked out to relish the beautiful sideways and the landscapes around. The trees that grew higher above the green bushes on irregular plains and the bulging Lake Victoria with beautiful beaches captured me instantly.
Uganda has beautiful landscapes and plenty of green vegetation. The people of Uganda love trees and they practice to plant three trees as they cut one. There are reserve forests that you can access from Kampala within a distance of 40 kilometers.
Kampala is lively
Before even mentioning, Peter stopped the van in front of a restaurant and looked at me to ask, “do you like Chinese food?”. Fang Fang was the restaurant and it was just one among the many that we enjoyed during our stay in Kampala.
Kampala may not be the most buoyant cities in the world, but it is one place where you can enjoy nightlife as good as day activities. There are pubs and clubs where you will easily be absorbed and indulged in.
Kampala is also good for shopping. Though slightly expensive when compared to India, you will find good shopping malls in and around Kampala.
Markets like Nakasero and Bugolobi are always colorful. If a little more big, think about Owino Market with over 500,000 vendors offering almost everything under the sun. While exploring these local markets in Kampala, be careful with your belongings.
After a delectable ‘lu-inner’ (we missed lunch that day and it was not yet time for dinner), Peter took us through Kampala Road where I saw an European couple sitting behind an Ugandan rider and racing ahead. An Indian couple followed them and then an Indian women, all of them on motorbikes rode by local riders. I was curious, and the response from Peter was simple, “they are Boda Bodas, just like your auto-rickshaws”.
You can travel in and around Kampala on a Boda Boda (Motorbike) by paying a small fare. They are convenient, if you have no luggage, and cheap. However, make sure that you demand the rider for a safe and smooth ride, and ensure it before you take his service.
My first impressions of Uganda was awesome. I lived 2 years and a few months in this landlocked country on the shores of Lake Victoria. My experience in two and half years was much more than my first impressions of Uganda. Stay tuned with Jaunt Monkey to read more travelogues and stories.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com