I Run on Ugandan Time
Everything was as set as it could have been, and my girlfriend, Katie, and I got to the airport at 10 a.m. The lady at the counter when I was checking my bags in said she couldn’t find my flight … great. To be honest, I figured something had to go wrong because the communication with people in charge leading up to this was minimal at best. I called and emailed some people to figure out this problem quickly. Someone had switched the flight and did not forward me the itinerary.
I had my final American meal then got to the airport for my real flight. First stop Miami then to London with an 11-hour layover.
London was very cool. After locking up my bag and buying a train pass, I headed to Westminster Abbey. The amount of history in London is amazing. There is something at every corner that is new to look at and learn about. The buildings are old, and there are statues depicting events that happened hundreds of years ago. I spent the day in Westminster Abbey and wandering around the parks in London. My layover going back is 13 hours and overnight, so I will be able to see more then.
My first look out of the plane after an eight-hour flight is across Lake Victoria and at mountains. Once I land and step outside, I notice the red sand. I walk down the stairs from the plane and onto a bus that drives us to baggage claim. I pay $50 for a three-month visa, and I am officially in Uganda.
In my experience so far in terms of airport security, the U.S. is the strictest by far. People in London and Entebbe, Uganda were very friendly and while they took their jobs seriously, they were not as uptight as what we see.
Exchanging $400 made me a millionaire in Uganda. The form of currency is the shilling, and 1,000 shillings is equal to 50 cents. I can’t lie; it is pretty inexpensive to live here. I could do it for awhile, and I already feel like I should stay. Just being here over a week, I feel like it has been months.
I walk out of doors to the airport looking for a sign that says “Alex” on it but there is nothing. Andrew, the guy I am meeting, walks out and we are on our way. Driving out of the airport, I immediately realize the state of this country, and we were in the nice, clean part called Entebbe. On either side of the road there are ditches that are there to prevent the road from being washed away. They also carry waste. I asked Andrew how plumbing worked here. He said that if you are building a house and want plumbing, someone must buy the pipes and install it themselves. For electricity, a person buys and puts up the poles and the city will come in and install the wires.
Buying and installing these things is different from how it is in the United States, but there are also many similarities. The major difference is the condition of things. For example, there are roads, but most of them are not paved. There is a sewage system, but it is uncovered and flows on the side of the road. There is electricity and water, but they go on and off throughout the week. Even with these aspects of life still developing, Uganda is an easy place to fit into.
The first question Andrew asks when we get to his house is if I am a person who needs to be doing something all the time. He explains that if I try to do as much in a day as I do in America, I won’t have something to do for two weeks. Uganda runs on Ugandan time, which means that a clock or watch does not have a significant place in people’s lives. A person’s job one day would be to cut the grass in front of the house (called slashing). He may be able to get the job done in a few hours, but it is his only job for the day so he works for an hour or two then eats lunch or takes a break. The job will be done by the end of the day but doing it as fast as possible is not part of it.
Living on Ugandan time has made me more laid back. Even if I am planning to meet someone at 3 p.m., they will probably show up at 5 p.m. or later. I learned fast that I couldn’t get frustrated because that is how it goes. I have now found myself working on Ugandan time, too.
NewerSchool life in Uganda