I live about 1km from RTC and could easily walk every day. Sadly, I don't most days. The thing I am learning here is that being a good neighbor means greeting the people you pass. You stop and at least say hello to many people you pass. This has been a big change for the Chicagoan in me. When I lived in Chicago, eye contact was often avoided. But here it's best to greet along the way.
[Luganda lesson: In the morning you greet differently than in the afternoon/evening. You also greet differently depending on if you talking to one person or multiple people. It can get confusing but now I love surprising people by greeting them in their own language. :)]
Anyway, this means my walking-to/from-work commute can take a while. So, in the morning my roommate and I take a boda boda. I think I've mentioned before but boda bodas are motorcycle taxis. Generally you can't walk down a road more than 5 minutes without a guy on a motorcycle stopping and asking if you want a ride. If you do, you tell them where you want to go and negotiate a price. Yes, negotiate. But if you're lucky you find a good (read: reliable and safe) driver you can call regularly. We have several we call to take us to work each day. We pay them 1500/= (that's 1500 Ugandan shillings...about 50 cents) each morning and I am so grateful for them. And that my morning commute is cut down from 30 min to less than 5 min...I like my sleep, what can I say? :)
|This is Emmanuel. He doesn't speak much English so I|
learn a bit of Luganda every time he takes me somewhere.
|With our boda driver, Sunday. Picture three people|
crammed on a motorcycle. Next time I'll have to have someone
take a picture of us ON the boda. :)
In the morning, the commute is quick since we take a boda. But the road is busy. We see kids walking to school, people opening their dukas (shops), others walking to work. If it rained the night before our driver has to be super careful because the dirt roads have turned VERY muddy. To give you an idea of where I live, here is a video of my morning commute. I sped it up a bit so you wouldn't take so long to watch. But it should still give you a good idea. [Admittedly, this is my first time recording/making a video so hopefully you can actually see it! Apologies in advance for any problems.]
So, anyway. You can see part of what I see everyday. After work, if I am not going somewhere else first, I generally walk home. The road looks about the same as in the morning, as I walk. Everyday I pass: cows, rubbish, people heading home, children yelling 'muzungu!', people sitting and talking, other boda drivers waiting for business, people working, etc. My half-hour (at least!) walk home is very different than my 10-min drive commute was in the U.S. And even though it takes longer to walk it IS important to me to spend time talking with neighbors. And usually, no matter how tired I am or how tempted I am to take a boda, some of the best moments of my day come from the walk home as I greet neighbors, laugh with kids, and simply live life in my community.