Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Kampala Days

I am firmly in the honeymoon stage of culture shock, and I'm loving every minute of it!

So here's what I'm loving so far (for those moments down the road when I'm deep in a culture shock valley):

-Work:  Awesome.  Challenging, rewarding, entertaining, and fun.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

-Housing:  Awesome.  After Jeddah I was due some good housing karma, and I've got it in spades.  It has its quirks, but it's pretty darn wonderful.  And my neighbors are all awesome as well. 

-Settling in:  My car was in my driveway the day after I arrived.  My HHE and UAB were delivered within a week.  I have two internet sources set up, and today I had DSTV installed. 

-Weather:  Pretty much perfect.  I even love the rain!  60-80 every day of the year, give or take a few degrees?  It doesn't get much better than that.

-People:  Old friends, new friends, an abundance of good people.  Colleagues and Ugandans alike - they're all wonderful.  It's not every post you can get invited to a Thanksgiving with people you've just met and feel right at home. 

-House help:  I am lucky to have found a wonderfully caring and talented housekeeper my first week here.  She loves my cats, and they love her.  She cooks well, does the grocery shopping, and anticipates things.  And she's not too zealous about putting things away in places I'll never find them, which is always a plus!

-Happy cats:  The cats settled in quickly and never looked back.  They're slowly getting over their fear of strangers - Callie even emerged when the DSTV guys were here and making noise today!

-Green:  So, so, so much lovely green.  After two years in the Gulf, it's much appreciated.  I will never get tired of looking at banana trees and palm trees and fields of lush crops.  This is an amazingly fertile country.  Which leads me to my next point.

-Food:  The fruits and veggies here are great - fresh, quality, and affordable.  I do miss berries, but it's a tradeoff for the most wonderful bananas and pineapples and mangoes and papaya and...  I've been to a few restaurants, all of which have been really good.  I can get pretty much anything I need on the local economy, so I'm feeling good about this.

-Life:     No matter what time of day or night, the city is full of life.  On a drive to the airport a few weeks ago in the wee hours of the morning, I was amazed at how many people were up and about.  Comparatively, Saudi felt fairly sterile in terms of life on the streets as you drive through the city.  Some parts were more lively than others, but they pale in comparison to Uganda.  Or, maybe, it was dominated by cars and not people.  Here, I never fail to smile on my commutes to and from work - there's so much to see and take in!  People, shops, animals, markets, street food, farmers, factories, matatus, boda bodas, and more - it's awesome.  Someone said to me when I arrived that I shouldn't have the notion that streets were meant for cars to drive on - that's merely one of their many functions.  And it's true!  It's a little scary to imagine driving in these very chaotic but exciting streets, something I'll try out this weekend, but I'm excited all the same.  You really get to know a place by driving there, and it was something I missed out on in Saudi.  I do want to hire a driver for part of the time, but I am not over the novelty being allowed to drive. 

I know I'm forgetting something, but it's the end of a long week, and I have my bedroom finally almost perfect with the addition of working A/C, so sleep is a pleasant thing again :-).

So, dear reader, please remind me of this post in 3-5 months when I'm cursing many of these same attributes of post!  Gotta love the roller coaster of culture shock!