Becoming a Real Foreigner

Some of us  have been to some foreign countries in Asia, but we have never felt weve been to a real foreign country before, because people’s physical appearances and their cultures have been similar to our own. However,  after arriving in Uganda, we realized we were in a different world.

About 7:30 pm on May 8th, we sat on the plane, and I felt that it was like another new world. Most passengers were black people, and so were the flight attendants. I sat there, and I found that hundreds of different eyes from other passengers focused on us for several seconds and then moved, which made me feel that I was a foreigner for the first time.      

 We spent nearly 32 hours, and we at last arrived in Uganda at 9:35 (local time) on May 9. The sky was  a pretty blue, and everything was covered by green with the sun shining brightly. We completed our applications for the Uganda visas at the airport successfully, but there was a hitch: One of the student’s suitcases was lost. We spent time to help her to find her luggage, but it played hide-and-seek with her.      

Going out of the airport, we took on a taxi that  looked like a bus. The sight views are delightfully beautiful, and colors here dazzle. In  Kampala, we seldom see tall buildings with twenty or thirty floors like as in China; houses are mostly low, with three or five floors in a palm-leaf setting. Everything in Uganda is much better than I was once imagined, and I love this beautiful city.

On  May 10th, a delightful day, it was not too hot or too cold and wasn’t sticky. I woke up at 8 o’ clock, and I went to the pay phone to call my sources after having breakfast. The public telephone box in Uganda is highly different from that in China. A very big battery like a car’s battery is put under the telephone to give the pay phone enough electricity. No one works in the public telephone box in China, and Chinese people use telephone cards to call someone when they are in the public telephone box. In Uganda, a telecom company called MTN (Mobile Telephone Network) employs people to manage the pay phone. These workers help the guests to dial calls and also sell mobile phone cards. The guests don’t need to buy any public telephone cards because they just pay the people who manage the pay phone. This morning, I went to a public telephone box that was opposite the Speke Hotel where we’re staying, and I telephoned the sources I needed. The man in charge of the phone was named Muwanguzi William, and I made an appointment to meet my sources successfully with his help. 

Many taxi drivers always stand in front of the hotel, but there is no sign on the top of the cab to show they are taxis. They just ask people or visitors whether they need taxi service. In the afternoon, I went to see some sources with Gloria and Yamaha and we took a taxi. The pretty scenery filled the windows and it was just like some colorful pictures hanging on the windows of the cab. However, we seldom saw traffic lights in Uganda.

“You can’t find traffic lights  here, and people go across the road by chance,” said Joseph. W. Lwasa, a taxi driver who rents his car from Nile Avenue Cab Company and earns 100,000 Uganda shillings a week in Kampala, about 60 US dollars. (One U.S. dollar equals 1,660 Uganda shillings).

 ”If a driver hits a person, and the person dies, the driver can just pay one million to escape from going to prison, ” Lwasa said.

It seems that money can solve every problem here, even buy a life.              

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008 at 10:01 pm and is filed under Stories from Uganda. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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