Sunday, July 29, 2012

Of Mutatus, Mosquitos and Marriage Proposals

Greetings from the Pearl of Africa! This year (just like last year) I naively convinced myself that I would write many shorter blog posts about the interesting little things that happen everyday here in Uganda. Obviously this has not been the case. So I'll try hard to give you a glimpse into my daily life here without making it a play-by-play.

Mutatus: Most every morning I pile into a van (little more than a metal box with carpet seat covers) with 16 other sweaty people while the "conductor" hollers out the window things like "Kampala Wandegeya! Kampala Wandegeya!" or "Tugendi?! Nakawa Ntinda!" This convenient torture chamber is known as a mutatu and is the taxi/bus of Kampala. It looks something like this:

I stole this from another girl's blog.
Another form of transportation around the city is featured on the left in this picture, the boda-boda. Although bodas don't require as much cramming and take you directly where you need to go, my dad doesn't allow us or any of the students to use them. The reason being that they do crazy things to avoid traffic, like drive on the sidewalks or on the wrong side of the road. They also drive really fast and weave in and out of cars. And it's not like anyone wears helmets. Often, when you're crossing one of Kampala's dangerous streets, the cars might be stopped, but just as you're starting to cross, a boda will zip out from nowhere and almost hit you. So, we don't ride bodas.

Mutatus really aren't that bad anyways. They might be slow, but they're cheap and they get you where you need to go. They can even be funny. It's a little hard to see on this picture, but most of them have a name of some sort spelled out across the top of the windshield in shiny stickers. They can be silly (Puff Daddy), religious (God is Able, Inshallah) or just plain bizarre (Synagogue Cares: Thank U Jesus). As a side note to that, there's actually a lot of religious titles here. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing a Trust in God supermarket or Jesus Loves You butchery. But it's heart-warming to know that religion is so important in this country that it's a good advertisement.

Mosquitos: I haven't contracted malaria yet, but I do have mosquito bites up the whazoo. I take great joy in killing annoying blood-suckers and will sometimes stalk them around the room, jumping on furniture and over people in order to end their miserable lives. (Ugh, I just got three more while I was typing that. So bugged! No pun intended.)

Marriage proposals: Yes I have had one, although more often I get boyfriend requests and a lot of asking for my number. That's just the life of a muzungu girl here; the local boys love you and are very forward about it. It doesn't help that I spend most of my days helping one of the research teams conduct their study which consists of me standing on street-corners and talking to random people. But even at church it happens. There is one brother who's asked every single girl in our group to be his girlfriend. It gets really old honestly. Most of the time I try to convince them that black girlfriends are just as good (if not better) than white ones.

The proposal story is pretty good though. I was just standing on the street, doing my research, and a guy I had already talked to came back to me. He started out very subtly: "I have always wanted a muzungu wife." "That's nice," I replied. "But I won't be it." When he asked why not, I must admit, I lied. "I, uh, have a boyfriend. Back in the United States." The only upside to that answer is it made the rest of our conversation rather short-lived. But honestly, this type of exchange is not unique to me. I'm pretty sure every girl in our group has had a similar experience. Oh these forward men...

So there you have it, a bit of my day-to-day. Pretty much, every day is an adventure!

Ok, this has nothing to do with the post, but I needed some pictures and these were the most adventurous. In the top one, my siblings and I play with adorable toddlers at Sanyu Babies orphanage.
 Mom, Robbie and I got pretty dirty playing futbol with some kids at the cricket pitch.


  1. Love this! How fun and exciting to read---and even more so to live. I gather that a muzungu girl is a white girl? Cheers to you and the fam. :o)

  2. Haha thanks Vera! I'm glad I captured some of the excitement! Yes, muzungu means foreigner, but most of the time it is applied to white people. Kids will holler at you all the time and for all intents and purpose it's you're name to tazi and boda drivers.