Friday, March 19, 2010

Little Things

It's a relief to realize that I can still appreciate some of the little things in life. I sometimes wonder if growing older is synonomous with a shrinking capacity for joy. As I child, I would get excited for just about anything. Staying up a few extra minutes to watch ALF, receiving any object at all that had some neon color, soft serve ice cream in a plastic Cleveland Indians helmet (I'd actually still get pretty excited about that last one). Somewhere along the way this easy excitement was lost. Boredom set in, and once it did it became more and more stubborn.

Since many of the luxuries I used to have are no longer available to me here in Uganda, I feel that tide starting to shift back. I actually rarely miss any of the amentities I enjoyed (or more accurately took for granted) back in the states, but when I do get a little sample of some luxury, it's as if I am experiencing it for the first time. The other day, my homestay mother, Gertrude, put some hot water in my bathing water, and I actually wondered aloud if there could be anything better than a warm bucket bath. Finding an internet cafe with functioning electricity, a connection that would have been slow in 1992 standards, and is swarming with computer viruses seems like an oasis. Riding to or from training without rain seems like a windfall of good fortune. On Sunday, I visited Kampala and paid the equivalent of $5 US for what was objectively a very mediocre bowl of hummus and shawarma that had been rotating on a spit for god knows how long. Despite the fact that this mediocre meal accounted for about 1/3 of my weekly living allowance, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the shit out of that bowl, and I have no regrets about such wreckless spending.

I am not suggesting that Africa, or even my experience here, has been all Mai Thais and Yahzee (did he just make a Con-Air reference?). Daily life here is hard. For most people, it's a nonstop struggle just to keep their heads above water. My life here far and away much easier than what would be considered average for a Ugandan, but it's nothing like what I was used to. What I've found, though, is that you can find joy in such simple things if you don't feel entitled to something more.


  1. LOVE the "Con Air" reference. I actually laughed out loud! Thank you for that, Dave. Safe travels, my friend.

  2. Sorry boss, but there's only two men I trust. One of them's me. The other's not you.

    Just kidding. But for real, cool post.