I’m sitting on the plane flying over the Alps on my way to Entebbe, Uganda (we will stop in Rwanda for 90 minutes or so on our way there), which is roughly an 8-hour flight. The view out my window is beautiful now. Even from miles high, I can tell that the layout of the land is already so different here. I am currently flying over Greece near the Mediterranean Sea. The patchwork of colors no longer has a special order like it did when flying over the US where the patterns are blocky, like checkerboards- geometric and angular. The patterns that you see in the land here are more abstract and the lines are much softer. I can see multiple large bodies of water and little islands everywhere, and occasionally I can make out what looks like a city of tiny white tic-tac houses clustered together, forming quarter-sized white patches on the landscape. There are squiggly white lines that look like roads running all over the surface, and blue crevices that look like rivers. If it is so beautiful from up here, I can’t imagine what it would look like up close.
I keep thinking about what Uganda will look like, too. It is supposed to have some of the most diverse, exotic and beautiful plant and animal life in Africa. I’m trying to imagine now what the flowers and plants will look like when I see them with my own eyes. I’m picturing them as being big, bright, and saturated with color. I can’t wait to post pictures! I honestly still can’t believe that I’m going to be in Uganda for almost 3 weeks. It seems so surreal and so impossible, yet here I am, 3 hours away from walking on it’s surface. I have a funny feeling that reality won’t really hit me until I step off the plane and feel the ground under my feet.
As of now, though, I’m stuck on the plane, so for the time being I’m watching a little Sex and the City, writing, and doing all that I can to prepare myself for a major culture shock. I mean that in a good way. Mostly I’m excited to interact with the people there (many of whom speak English, thankfully). I want to learn from a first-person perspective how they live, what they do for fun, what they like to eat, and how they raise their children. I have so many questions, but I think that my first few days in the country will consist of mostly watching and listening. Even in my 3 weeks here I don’t know if I’ll be able to absorb half of the things I want to know about the people and their culture.
Even in Europe I was fascinated with the cultural differences. Everyone was amazingly fashionable, even the children! People in Amsterdam especially seemed to put time into their looks though. Everywhere I looked people were accessorized from head to toe. I’d normally consider myself a fashion-forward individual, but to be honest, I felt like a lazily-dressed tourist today- NOT my favorite label. But with my obvious jet lag (I was falling asleep on the way to the train this morning despite one delicious cappuccino) and backpack and rolling suitcase, I think the locals understood and cut me a break. I wasn’t stopped by the European fashion police at least, and made it safely and tiredly back to the airport. Happily for me, I bought some colorful floor-length dresses for Uganda so I can break this streak of capris and t-shirts. Anyways, the point is that I fell in love with Europe and its beautiful people, and would LOVE to make it back someday where I can fit into the crowd, ride a bike embellished with fresh flowers (yes, I saw many of them) or maybe a moped, and sip a latte while reading the paper (maybe even in Dutch or French).
That’s another thing that really struck me about Europe- scanning the streets full of people and never being able to guess their native language, or language of choice. I kept my ears open when anyone passed me, trying to guess what language I’d hear them speaking while they were chatting on the phone or conversing with a friend. Somehow I could NEVER get it right. I heard Dutch, German, Spanish, and Portuguese…and English in a million different accents. People look and sound so worldly. There also seems to be this kind of unity among Europeans (at least in their good fashion sense) while maintaining a good amount of diversity, which makes people-watching really fascinating. They all stood out as individuals with unique styles, yet somehow they seemed to blend together into one well-dressed population; kind of like the perfect outfit: different colors, layers and patterns that for some reason just work together.
The combination of fashion, great food, and beautiful scenery (like the canals in Amsterdam) makes it hard for any girl to leave Europe, but maybe someday I’ll come back to explore.
For now, though, I get to focus on another area full of cultural richness (all packed into a pretty small space)…Uganda. To put it in perspective, the entire country of Uganda is slightly smaller than the state of Minnesota. Pretty amazing, huh? It seems like it would only be a speck out of the plane window after watching the hours of ocean go by. I just opened the shade, though, and the edge of the light blue water is finally fading away into the distance. Now all that’s below us is desert, and I think I know what that means…
We’re in Africa!
Our plane is flying over Egypt now, and all I can think about is how it reminds me of a giant sandbox (at least until the Nile River cuts through it somewhere).
I’ll keep my eye out for pyramids (if I see any, I’ll make sure to take pictures J), and the next time you all hear from me I’ll probably be sitting in a small Internet café in Uganda with new adventures to write about and pictures to post.
Lots of love to all of my friends and family!