May 18th, 2015
Remember the first time your parents left you home alone? How grown up you felt, but nervous at the same time? Maybe they had to run to the corner store, or else they had an appointment but couldn’t find a babysitter. Or, as in my case, maybe both you and your sister were covered in chicken pox and your mom had to go to the drug store to get calamine lotion before you itched yourselves into oblivion. Whatever the case, you ended up in the house alone, however briefly. At first you thought it would be fun (think of all the cool things we could do!). But you quickly realized that this being alone business was a bit trickier than you had anticipated. You didn’t know how to do simple things like make toast or answer the doorbell because your parents always took care of that. Pretty soon your excitement turned to anxiety and you found yourself just waiting for them to come home. Now imagine that scenario but in a foreign country. Where you’ve only been for five days. With two others who are just as lost as you. That should give you a sense of how we’re feeling after having just moved into our apartment here in Kampala.
Of course being home alone isn’t a perfect metaphor: I’m twenty-two years old now, and unlike my eight year old self I’ve had ample experience living on my own. I know how to make toast and answer the doorbell; those things haven’t been a challenge for me in years. But there are still a few equally simple tasks that we need to navigate, like where do you take the garbage when it’s full, and what’s the protocol for laundry? How do you turn on the oven, and why won’t the shower get hot? (Answer: the oven has a switch behind the lid, and the water has a heater that needs to be turned on 20 minutes before you hop in). All these things would be common knowledge to us in Canada, but here it’s like experiencing that first time home alone all over again.
Of course hot water and garbage are mundane little things that we’ll figure out as they come. The real adjustment will be learning how to live in Kampala, from getting food to getting around the city. Since we arrived we’ve been completely taken care of: from meals to transport, everything has been out of our hands. But now the training wheels are off, and it’s up to us to sink or swim. This time my parents aren’t the ones away from home – I am.
This is when the real adventure begins…let’s see how we do!
First though let me show you our new home, starting with the good parts:
And the not so good parts:
But saved the best for last! There will be many afternoons sitting out here.