It’s not surprising how we search for the familiar in the unfamiliar, what I find funny is how intensely we search. Yesterday I suddenly realized, as we drove along the highway, that I hadn’t seen a McDonald’s and I have been assured by my guide that there is no McDonald’s in Kampala, not even a vague copy. Now I don’t usually frequent the golden arches at home but when I realized I hadn’t seen a single arch it surprised me. Why I should be looking for something I don’t like back home has become an interesting example in learning to find my grounding in a place so starkly different to anything I have ever seen before.
A familiar site, that I find incredibly amusing considering the state of traffic here, are the numerous driving schools. I see their cars weaving through the streets along with the hundreds of boda boda’s (motorcycle taxis) and Matatu’s (minivan buses). When we pass them you could easily replace the student’s nervous grip on the wheel with any teenager back in the states.
For the first time on this trip I’ve noticed that the sights and sounds of other trips have started to become part of my familiar dictionary. The sounds of the muzzein call early in the morning(calling muslims to prayer), the women in hijab, and the Islamic centers remind me of my trips through the middle east and while Muslims in this country are mostly Somali’s, with a few Indians, the mosque’s look the same. A favorite item I have picked up along my travels is the drink of choice, orange Fanta (or lemon Peligrino in Europe). Nothing can beat the lovely sweetness as a break from the endless water bottles I have already accumulated. English tea has also followed me through the world. The play of children on the street and the laughter of friends after a long day of work is the same the world over.
When sights from previous trips become comforting, I think I must now be a part of that class of people who find the world too intriguing to ever stay home for long.
To read more about the adjustments that muzungu(white people) here in Uganda and Tanzania need to make, read this great post by my friends in Tanzania. I will be visiting them at the end of my trip.