I am sitting on my third plane of the day, now only 1 short leg from Kigali, Rwanda to my final destination of Entebbe, Uganda. They have just reminded us over the announcements that we should not bring any plastic bags into the country, and I recollect a traveler’s guide saying that arrests could be made just because you have a plastic bag with you. Oh, right…through the haze of intermittent plane naps mixed in with movies, I remember that I have just crossed over the ocean and changed continents. This is not my first time doing so: India, Australia, and several European countries have all been marked on my passport in the past. However, this trip is like no other trip I have taken before.
With all of those previous destinations, I had a sense of what to expect. This time, there seem to be more unknowns and curiosities than before. I feel extremely fortunate to have an opportunity to come to Africa and live here for the next 2.5 months. I grew up hearing stories of Timbuktu, the beauty of Kenya, and the determination of people who have gone through many testing regimes, and now I have an amazing, potentially life-altering chance to begin learning about the culture first-hand; what better place to do so than in Uganda, known as the Pearl of Africa.
Of course, I am unbelievably excited to meet new people, experience new traditions, and form life-long memories here. But I would be lying if I said there were not certain aspects that, in this pre-arrival state, I can admit I am slightly intimidated and curious about. How will my presence and arrival affect the community in Tororo, Uganda that I will be joining? Can we function on a level of equal platform, or do I force a superior-inferior dichotomy before I even set foot in the village (I hope this is not the case!). As a vegetarian, how difficult will sustenance be for 75 days? What does 96% humidity and living on the equator feel like? Will our research be successful, impactful, and beneficial to this community?
Overall, I think I am in for a whirlwind of experiences. Taking a 10-week hiatus from our technology-centered world and connecting with people from whom I know I will both learn from and share with sounds cleansing to the soul and mind. There will be some challenges along the way, but if the political situation remains stable in Uganda and my daily anti-malarial medications do the trick, I think that 2.5 months will be over before I know it. As we land now in Uganda, I am going to stop thinking and embrace the adventures that lie in wait.