Because We Didn’t Take a Picture…


There are a few moments in Bukoba we would have loved to capture but couldn’t bring ourselves to whip out our cameras to document the action. We felt a bit disrespectful taking pictures of people; and believe me, there were some people who DID NOT want their photo taken. I tend to be the same way; I don’t like to be photographed like some animal at the zoo. So no pictures, but you can use your imagination…

– You could find President Obama’s face, or even a picture of his entire family, on so many products! We saw his image on everything from strawberry candy boxes, reusable grocery bags, pencils, buses, and even boxers! The people here are proud that he has ties to Africa.

– Men oftentimes held hands with other men. At first it caught me off guard (we live in a society that clearly defines that kind of interaction to mean only one thing – they must be gay! – and homosexuality is far from being embraced in this conservative country) but then it was quite wonderful to see two grown men unashamedly sharing their comradeship in this fashion.

– Physical labor in this country is present all around you. From cutting grass with small scythes, to pounding rocks into smaller pieces, to bending over to sweep with very short brooms, to washing clothes by hand, to transporting heavy items up steep hills on bicycles, etc. the lifestyle here made us feel lazy. After spending two afternoons washing our laundry by hand we have a new appreciation for the washing machine.

– Personal space is different here. The nursery teachers were seemingly always curious about my hygiene and how I dressed. (This is slightly hilarious, because I rarely spend much time getting ready in the morning.) Every morning some teacher would come up to me and more or less inspect me and pick at me. They wanted to know what soap I used, felt my skin and told me it was very smooth (which was confusing, it was no smoother than theirs!), pointed out my moles, smoothed out the bumps in my hair, and one time, even stuck a finger in my ear to pull out earwax! I couldn’t believe it!

– After buying rice from the market, you would meticulously go through it to pull out any small rocks. The real professionals have a special rinsing method that separates the heavier rock pieces from the lighter rice. There was nothing enjoyable about eating a soft rice meal and unexpectedly biting down unto a pebble.

– Most windows (in homes, schools, hotels, and shops) had heavy duty bars over them to discourage breaking in and vandalism. I felt safe from intruders but wondered about my exit plan options in case of fire.

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