Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Operation Myrtle: The Big 9-0!

As I’ve already indicated, I recently returned back to Nova Scotia. It’s been pretty cold, and I almost immediately regretted leaving warm, sunny, goat-filled Uganda for snowy Canada. But, my main motivation made it all worth it - celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Two days after my arrival in Halifax, my brother and I packed into his car and made the drive to my grandmothers. We had one mission - surprising her with my return.

As we drive along the highway, Mike and I contemplated the best course of action to maximize on the surprise element, without causing her to have a heart attack. After all the goal of my return was to surprise and enjoy some quality time with her - not kill her!

Mike came up with a brilliant idea (since she was expecting him for breakfast), for me to wait until a few minutes after he went into the house. I, then, went to the door and knocked, waiting for her to answer. This was a key move, since he was able to capture the surprise perfectly from the warmth of inside Grammy’s house. Grab your kleenex, folks, because this one’s a tear jerker!

Video credit: Michael Kennedy

After the surprise, Mike departed and Grammy and I shared a day of quiet adventures. She kept looking at me to make sure I was actually there, which was pretty cute.

The following day all the family that was around and able joined us for a birthday potluck, which included some delicious eats, good conversation, and maybe a decapitated doll incident or two... You know, a regular Sunday family gathering!

All in all, I think she had a pretty good day. She failed miserably following her one instruction of “don’t do anything” given that she insisted on helping us prepare food and clean up. She’s a pretty incredible lady and I’m really glad she’s a part of my life*.

And the award for best grandkids EVER goes to...
Selfie credit: Michael Kennedy
To think this woman is 90 years old is unbelievable! She does pretty well on her own, and it’s always good to be reminded on the importance of independence.

Happy birthday, Grammy! I’ll catch up with you next week before I depart this country, once again!

-the Orange Canadian

*And not just because she sends me maple syrup and other assorted necessities from time to time!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kindness Can Be Found All Around Us

I made it to Entebbe in record time. I was pretty pleased with how quickly we moved along, particularly since the beginning of my morning hand not gone as planned (well, the entire last week, for that matter)!

When I arrived I learned that the computer system was down, which meant a really long wait*. And the longer the wait, the longer the lineups around me became. I’m not an overly patient person at the best of times, but it’s even worse when I’m overtired and over heated**. However, I channelled my inner former retail-worker and tried to be upbeat and positive, even though all I really wanted to do was take a nap and pee***.

As the wait time grew longer, the various groups of passengers began to intermingle, making small chat, if for no other reason than to pass the time. I happened to be behind a rather large family, and the two younger guys (likely in their mid-teens) began to strike up a conversation with me. I learned they were from Somalia originally, but had spent the last ten months in Uganda awaiting their paperwork to be processed so they could move to the United States.

My first thought was ugh! What a terrible time to be heading there! But they happily chatted about how they were aware of the political issues taking place and how their was the potential for complications once they arrived. We also talked about where they wanted to travel if they could go anywhere in the world, and oddly enough, they said Manchester... NOT because they were UNITED fans, but because they were CITY fans! I thought this was pretty cool...mostly because no one ever admits to being a City fan! But that led to a further chat about my experience living there. They were also just such polite, well spoken kids****.

Eventually the line began to move forward, and the couple behind me - an American couple - inquired about where they might be headed. I gave them the Coles Notes version, and instead of the usual response I’ve received, or heard stories of, the male half of the couple walked right up to them and told welcomed them to his country! It was amazing. They also offered to provide contact information to the group just in case they had any struggles upon arrival or while they were getting settled!

None of us knew each other. But there’s an incredible sense of solidarity that forms in lineups when there’s an issue at the other end. I thought this was a pretty incredible act, and wanted to pass it along. We’ve all been reading, hearing, and seeing some less than stellar examples of humanity these days, so felt a story like this needed to be shared.

-the Orange Canadian

*You may be pleased to know that I held my 40 lbs. backpack on my shoulders for about an hour before conceding to the heat and wait time! Also a record... or just plain stupid.  
**The two worst types of “over” anything, if you ask me!
***Not necessarily in that order!
****Not because they are from Somalia, but because they are teenagers, and that era of current human appears to have lost the ability to use proper sentences, or just speak, in general, without using abbreviations or acronyms that people over the age of 30 don’t understand....

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Well, That Was Quick...

I woke up this morning and carried on with my usual wake-up routine: roll over, check the weather here and back home, answer emails and whatever other messages I received overnight. This morning was no different, except that I paid less attention to the report from here and more on what would be happening back home over the next several days. It turns out, I’m in for a bit of a shocker, given that today there is a chance of flurries, and Saturday is also calling for snow. This is not what I’ve signed up for.

It’s hard to believe that I returned to Uganda just over 6 months ago. It’s even harder to believe that tomorrow I will once again be packing my things and heading back to Canada. It is a bit different, however, since I am only heading home for a visit, rather than an “I have no idea when or if I’ll actually be back” trip, which has been my previous experience. It further solidifies just how much this country has transitioned into my home. Instead of packing all my things, I’m only coming home with a pack full of the essentials (coffee/dirty clothes that I’ve been too lazy to wash on my own), while the remainder of my belongings will remain here without me.

I’ve have looked out at this view WAY too many times over the last 6 months.
Shout out to my Java House Jinja team. I will miss you the most (well, the coffee and bacon, mostly). 
These last 6 months have been some of the most frustrating, but rewarding times of my life. I’ve built some incredible friendships, explored a little bit more of the world, and challenged myself to face a few more fears. But, the thing I’m most excited about is the progress I’ve been making towards my professional life, and how slowly, but surely, I am on my way to creating my dream job. Life sometimes takes some unexpected turns, and even though it took me longer than I’d hoped to get to where I am today, I’m thankful to be at this point (although, there is still a long way to go!).

Over the last few days, I’ve spent some time with friends and just generally taking in the beauty that surrounds me. I feel overwhelmed to have finally found home once again, although it’s still tough to accept that the one person I wish I could call and share all of these experiences with is gone, and that she will never get to set foot in this amazing country, or see how far I’ve come in the years since she passed. It’s actually pretty crazy how much things have fallen into place in the last four years.

The view from my driveway, the morning of departure. 
Despite all the certainty that has been popping up in my life, I feel completely unsettled. I feel like I won’t actually be coming back, and this makes me a bit nervous. There is nothing foreseeable that would prevent me from returning. In fact, I have a hard deadline for when I need to be back. It’s weird. This could very well be a routine sentiment, as it’s the first time in a while that I’ve had some degree of stability in my life. Who knows. The only thing I really know is that I’m going to miss this incredible country and the amazing friends I’ll be temporarily leaving behind.

Here’s to you Uganda – let’s hope Canada has stepped up its game!

-the Orange Canadian