Day 1 Apologise.
I looked up journal entries on Google and they suggested I should title my entries. How does this help the story but anyway…. I find the song fitting for how I’m feeling right now. Towards my brother. Snoring off on the other side of the room. It’s too late to apologise. Not that he is apologizing either. But I think I will get into the
fall full story of why he should apologise. Kill the time. Find a way to fall asleep. He handed me this journal and said journalling is known to help people fall asleep. I don’t see how. I think it is a pretty dumb idea, a little too girly if you ask me.
Day 1 This is your life
This is my sad life. No sleep coming. So I guess I’ll try out this journal thing and see how well it brings sleep.
I’ve been tossing around in bed for two hours now and somehow that song crept in. Mocking me. ‘This is your life, are you who you want to be! This is your life, are you where you want to be! Is it everything you dreamed that it would be…’ the answer to the questions in that song - no. I am especially not where I want to be.
Two years ago…why am I even getting into this? Oh yeah, the sleep. Two years ago, I told my brother that when he graduated college I’d give him a trip out of the country. His choice. Over the course of the years I have hinted very strongly, that this trip should take place in a sunny beacy place. Plenty of sun, water and women. I narrowed the choice down for him. Hawaii. But no, Bighead had to pick a country I haven’t
had of. Heard. Uganda. Uganda! Where on earth is Uganda? I could hardly be bothered to answer that question. But I love my brother. That’s probably not cool to admit in writing where the words could be used against me. But I do. Which is why I agreed to this stupid trip and didn’t through throw this journal away when he gave it to me and suggested we document our experiences. What’s wrong with a camera?!!
Uganda is nothing as advertised! Or maybe I didn’t pay attention when I browsed their tourist sites. We know this because the mosquitoes buzzing above my head have made it had to sleep and a little hard to concentrait. The roads and their drivers are insane. Insane. I truly thought I would lose my life on the drive to this AirB&B. And I don’t think I can find my way to this place on my own. Why do they not have any order! Our host gave us a talk down about our safety while we are here. We have apparently come to the unsafest, most-disorganised, most-uncultured country in the world. There are a lot of thoughts to go through but mostly importantly why did my brother have to choose this country!!!
Day 15 A whole new world
‘No one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we are only dreaming.’ Except if you are traveling with my brother. Do you think the song is a little childish, should be sang by a girl!. Well, it turns out real men don’t constantly question these things. How do I know? Smallhead, my little brother, said that to me over breakfast. He asked, casual as possible, if I was journaling eveything so far. I said I don’t find that very masculine and he said ‘You know, real men don’t spend time questioning things that make them look like real men. They just are.’ If we weren’t in public, he’d be nursing a split lip and a blacker eye.
It turns out I’m supposed to write the date when I document. So here it is. April 5th 2019.
For the past couple of weeks I have taken up exercise and the 4,7,8 breathing method as recommended by Google. There has been no improvement, I only survive on brief naps to the tourist sites. I should stop using the internet as my go-to for everything. Pick a book instead. It’s actually on the list too to help you fall asleep faster.
When I’m not busy hating everything about Uganda, there are somethings I can enjoy about it. They have amazing delicacies. We’ve eaten their supposedly world-famous ‘rolex’. it tastes like heaven packed up in egg and chapati. Anyone must try that. Lucky for us there is a ‘rolex guy’ about three blocks away. We’ve done the roasted maize and roasted plantain and a whole lot more of their local dishes. The people, when they are not looking at you weird, because you look as black as they do but don’t seem to operate the way they think you should, are sometimes Ok. Nice and helpful unless they are
stilling stealing from you. Hell, there are plenty of thieves here and a wack police. Not helpful at all. We were talking to one shopkeeper, who was clearly ripping us off when someone pulled my brother’s backpack and ran off with it. I tried to give chase but Emptyhead said that it was all good. I don’t get my brother. I honestly don’t know much about my brother. Which is why I had us do this trip. A little bonding wouldn’t hurt. But it seems he has his own little world and I’m not yet privy to it.
We’ve gone to some of the beaches. What a disappointment! How in his head can he compare this to Hawaii? But we’ve done that. Visited their national musuem, only one. Tried their national theatre, only one. Visited their zoo, you guess it...only one. And all these places are suffering deeply from neglect. Been to their malls too. Not much of jaw droppers but they serve their purpose. Bighead has promised me a trip to a great national park to crown this all. I’m not anticipating anything. I try to show my annoyance around Freakface, especially when he starts to engage in everything with enthusiasm. Most of the time though, I am on my own till about 2pm, trying to engage with my real perfect life online. I have no idea where Kojak runs off too. Maybe I should dedicate my time to find out.
There is Freakface waking up, looking pleased to see me writing things down. He has no idea how much and when he features in this writing. He’s saying we need to pack up. We are going to finish off our trip away from the capital city. If the capital is this bad, how awesome is this other place we are going to.
Why! Why! did I agree to this trip?
Day 20: April 10th 2019. Hello
‘Hello, can you hear me! I’m in Uganda dreaming about who I used to be when I was younger and free…’ Yes sure I’m bursting up the lyrics of the song but well… Hello from Uganda, Iganga district. I’ll tell you one thing about Iganga…it has better road network than Kampala but it is dirty. Hah, I guess those were two things. I tried reading a novel last night to fall asleep. The Alchemist - good book. Very good book. And now I think I should sue the internet. Can I do that? Their information is not helping me sleep.
I think Kojak is here on a volunteer trip that he didn’t bother to disclose. We made the trip to Iganga in one organisation's bus. A much saner driver but that can’t be said for the rest of the road users. Passed through Jinja, where I think the main attractions of this place are. Stayed there for about two days. Did a little sightseeing in Mabira forest. Not bad but still not Kohala Forest Reserve in Hawaii. Made it all the way to Bujagali falls and the source of the Nile. So sure I’m hating most of this trip but I’m getting a little exposure. And so far the other volunteers, I believe strongly that they are volunteers, are warm and engaging and talkative. And some of them are girls! We’ve even played games everynight. That is five nights in a row now. I’m still trying to get journaling to help me fall asleep. But these volunteers they know how to have fun in a place as fun-draining as Uganda. I’m being
hush harsh I know. But I expected something else and got something else. It’s not fair. And am sure Freakface hates that I’m also a buzzkill on what should be his trip. It’s time I became the big brother Kojak needs me to be.
Day 21: April 11th 2019. The other side
‘Okay, my friend, you wanna cut me in, well I hate to tell you but it just won’t happen. So thanks but no, I think am good to go ‘cause I quite enjoy the life you say I’m trapped in.’
Journaling must be growing on me, two consecutive days…and this entry is not even happening in the middle of the night! Progress. Bighead and I had a fight early this morning. He asked me to go out with the volunteers to wherever they were going and I said no. That is absolutely not what I signed up for. And he got so mad, telling me about my little safe bubble - the indifference of privilege. That boy has no idea what I have been through. So we had rounds about it till he walked out. Now they have left me behind and gone off somewhere for three days. I won’t see my brother for three days. I hope he comes back alright. This is not the trip I imagined…at all. At all!
Day 25: April 15th 2019. The climb
‘There’s always going to be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose’
Kojak has had his way and I’m now deeply immersed in volunteering. Ok, deeply is probably a stretch. I just started today. We are here for two weeks. And after that we’ll be on our way back to proper civilisation. He returned from their trip and was not talking to me. I found that rather childish and had to remind myself that he is indeed the younger brother. So when the opportunity to go into one of these villages opened up, I jumped on board. I still need to get into my brother’s inner circle.
The village is probably like those they show on TV for their documentaries that I’ve never bothered to watch. So far from any town. The children, dust in their unkempt hair, no shoes on their feet and rags for clothes, some of them a little malnourished run after the bus when we arrived in the village. They probably don’t see many cars this side, but that’s just my guess. What do I know? Throughout the village, I saw their mudbaked huts and grass thatched roofs. Some of them of course have better structures. But what truly blew me away is that these kids had smiles as big as the ocean when we were introduced. We are living in one of their boarding schools. It’s not much at all. I think I have seen only three proper classrooms. I asked where the others learn from and our guide pointed to the tree. They don’t have electricity this far either. I hope sleep finally finds me hiding this deep in Africa. I can’t imagine rolling all night with no reprieve. Nor piped anything. We must do all our business in pit latrines and fetch our water from a borehole. I looked at Kojak when this information came to light. I think I’ll never fully understand my brother.
April 16th 2019. It’s a hard knock life.
I don’t really know the lyrics of that song. Kojak saw me write yesterday and said I don’t really have to keep counting down the days. As though it’s his journal. The rota came up yesterday. I’m not having a vacation or the time of my life. We have to be up by 6. Then we do something they call morning devotion. I had no clue Kojak was a practicing Christian. Is that even how they say it? Then we wash up and have breakfast by 9. then we go out into the village to do whatever they will do. I’m going to walk around and see what fun I can find that side. Lunch at 1 at this school. I don’t think its going to be very exciting. I’ve already seen the food store. Then we'll have to clean up according to the rota and they’ll go back and do whatever. This are going to be very long two weeks. And lights out by 11. Am I somehow back in school? And lights out shouldn't even count. They have no electricity!
And Kojak ignored to tell me how to go about the language barrier issue. These people don’t speak English!!!
April 24th 2019. Broken and beautiful
‘Can someone just hold me? Can someone just know me?
The song has been on repeat on Carla’s battery-powered player. I’m almost running mad. But I’ll take the madness if it means we can work together. It turns out that I’m now a teacher. Teaching some of these children their ABCs and a little English. Which is a joke because if anybody reads this, they’ll know I don’t quite have me English together. But I’m enjoying this little village. And for the past week I’ve been sleeping deeply at night. If you ask Kojak, he’ll say that’s because I have found my purpose. I
fill feel like I have found purpose even though I didn’t want to do this at all. Really.
But that day, 16th, I was running around and found this group of boys, real old like 14 and they knew no word of English. Not that they should but English is the official language of their country. So after a round of football with a makeshift ball made of leaves and paper and string, I asked if they were willing to learn and they said sure. So now am teaching. I didn’t know what the rest were doing but they all encouraged my agenda and you should have seen Kojak. Beaming with pride. Slowly by slowly the class has grown. I now have twelve students which is why Carla came to help. I think with this time together there is a little more depth to our friendship. And am not just
saying writing that.
There is a fast learner in the class. I think she is only 16 years old but she says she is married with three children so far. And her husband should never see her in this class. 16! I’m sure I didn’t have all that responsibility at 16 but she always looks so happy. I think that is the most challenging thing about being in this little village. That without all the things I think make happy, they can be happy. Genuinely happy. How have I managed without knowing their language! Well, I’m also learning. Like ‘kodeyo’ and ‘ndiyo’ for greeting.
Done some digging. Done some building, we had to add to the school. I feel like a different person altogether. More experienced. I'm also getting real friendly with the other volunteers here. Like Carla. Learnt how to make some of their local dishes. Some of them taste like soil but am learning. And its unbelievable how cool, as in temperature, their huts are! I can’t even believe I’ve survived this long without electricity.
I think I’m falling into a rhythm of my own here. Hardly have the time to idle away to write.
Bottom point though, I’m enjoying this trip.
May 3rd 2019 Break even.
‘If a heart breaks then it don’t break even.’
If you asked me this two weeks ago, I think the answer would have been different. I’m sad to leave this little village and Uganda. They’ve grown on me. We’ll be back home in two days time. I now wish I had written everything as it unfolded. Why did I fight Kojak so much on some of these things? With this experience, Kojak and I now have something to talk about and build on.
April 5, 2020. Who am I.
'I wanna start again, so I look within.'
I can’t believe I'm finding this after a year or that I gave up journaling after that trip. As poor as it was. I think I’ll pick it up now, document this lock down. It’s been silly reading through this journal, it takes me back - all those raw emotions. I can smell Uganda as I read it. I can’t believe the poor spellings littered in here, or the poor punctuation and sentence construction. It has been a good read though. I hope whoever ever lands on this will think so too.