Uganda is a beautiful country; rich and verdant, with delicious fresh fruit and vegetables, and loads of different plants supporting an incredible diversity of birds, insects and more. There are a couple of factors instrumental in producing this wonderful ecosystem.
- Incredibly rich, clay-based red soil.
- A great climate for growth, with regular rain and a temperate climate.
It makes for wonderful moments marvelling at the wonder of creation.
It also makes for an incredibly filthy car!
If our car isn’t covered in a fine film of dust after dry days, then it’s caked in a thick layer of mud after the rains. At the moment Dave is driving our trusty RAV4 into work twice a week in order to be home in time for our Luganda language lessons. The drive to the airfield isn’t bad, but the last few roads are little more than dirt tracks, so each week he returns our white car splattered and streaked with red.
It wouldn’t be too bad, but with our car being white it makes the filth a bit obvious! Even more so when, despite the condition of the roads, the vast majority of cars here are kept immaculately clean. Dented, rusted and sometimes falling apart, yes, but always clean!
There’s a car wash at the top of our hill, a five-minute walk away. Our neighbours use it, we know it’s good, and yet for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to drive the short distance to drop it off.
It’s a strange sensation living in a place where everything is new. I’ve moved across the UK several times, but that’s not quite the same. You still know how everything works when you move in the same country, even if you need to find where the nearest supermarket is. Here in Uganda, everything is different. We’re learning about an entirely different way of living, and though we bring some of our own customs and ideas with us, there is still a lot to take in and get used to.
I think that’s why it took me so long to work up the courage to drop the car off. I didn’t know how it worked. Should you pay at the start or the end? Do you leave the key? How long does it take? All simple questions, but they built up in my mind until taking the car to the car wash was the last thing I wanted to do.
But eventually the layer of grime on the car was terrible enough that I was left with no option. I nervously headed up the hill, and within a minute was walking back down it with the car handed over and ready to be jet-washed.
It was easy.
I picked it up a couple of hours later, gleaming like it was brand new, and wondering what on earth I was worried about.
Laughing with Dave later, I had to remind myself that it’s okay to take my time learning all there is to know about Uganda. I’m not going to get there all at once, but each little step brings me closer to getting to grips with life here. Conquering the car wash felt like a little victory; something I can hang on to, ready for the next challenge.