(blog site was down)
I’m wakeful and hallucinatorily asleep at the same time.
Last year my flight to Entebbe felt like an adventure in itself — this year, it felt like a plane ride. Partly the slight familiarity of it, and partly that the crowded, overheated BA flights and a rapidfire turnaround at heathrow didn’t have the same air of cool other-wordliness of boarding the more serene, shinier KLM planes. Traveling with Blair also made it more like something I was doing routinely — chatted about life in general, his day in london, work pressures, my lovelife, rather than the more rarefied conversations about What are You going to Africa about. Last year my conversation with the african american prof from syracuse who was going to africa for the first time was an awe-ful stage in the journey itself.
My air of familiarity was reinforced by this being Blair's first trip to africa, although he was the one who figured out which passport line we should be in. $50, fancy stamp, not even a question about why we're in Uganda. Shameful amounts of luggage poured off the belt (the kili trip is a trek in an of itself, complete with camping gear and winter garb).
Gabriel picked us up, and even if I wouldn't have recognized him without his little sign, it felt good to get out of the airport to be greeted by someone we know. The drive into kampala felt interminable, but again, lacking the plunge-impact of last year -- darkness pocked by bars or restaurants, the acrid smell of cooking fires and exhaust, barefoot people walking by the side of the road, erratic swerving of lorries and boda bodas.
Finally at the City Royal hotel, dead on our feet, I had my first sense-memory of what’s different here. My accelerated pace is so visible here, so clear in relation to the soft slow drawls of uganda action. I was reading a text about The Other, and having a conversation about otherness with my online group... and I realized that “Other” for me is partly about race, privilege, etc, but here, it manifests in pace, and having to reframe my initial impatience at “absurdly slow service in hotel” to “people welcoming me by showing me the best they have.” The welcome is the bone, and where I am reminded to fix my gaze. Not on the huge bottle of KILLIT bug spray prominently displayed in my room in case it’s needed.