We all know the honeymoon phase. I imagine it like running through unending fields of flowers the way they do in prescription drug commercials. It is bliss, nirvana, and unrepentant joy.
My honeymoon with Uganda has been far from perfect. I have spent more than one night fretting for hours, thinking that I can’t go home, I can’t see my friends and family, and I can’t get café mocha with a pine tree motif in the foam.
Nonetheless I wake up every day intent on making it great. I have succeeded every time short of a couple days in my first few weeks.
This week, however, the honeymoon period ended. I often feel like billions of small insects are crawling under my skin when I walk in public spaces. Like a rising chorus, I want more and more tear the head off anyone disturbing my peace.
I sense this is full-force culture shock. Last weekend I went to the sardine-can-packed streets and sprawling concrete metropolis of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. On Wednesday I traveled to Kibuye village, 27 by 35 kilometre square area with no electricity, no running water, and probably about as much concrete as Kampala has in a city block. Kampala life is driven by stress and diesel fuel, while sitting in the shade and slowly nursing a cup of tea moves life in Kibuye.
Much like Uganda and Canada, Kampala and Kibuye compare about as closely as a goat and an elephant. Yeah, they’re both four-legged animals, but even brief inspection proves they aren’t the same.
The bride, Uganda, shows its most and least desired qualities through each city. Seeing both so quickly is like compressing a decade of getting to know a person into less than a week.
This marriage isn’t over, of course, there’s just a lot to think about. After all, I just discovered some truth about my lover: who wouldn’t need some time to think?