It's nearly 7am. Mist blankets the hills near Entebbe, fading softly into the lush green of the trees. A deep red dirt road--one of the few traces of Western civilization evident from 15000 feet up in the air--cuts through the land. The snowflake frost on the outside of my airplane window melts fast as we drop down into the warm humidity of a southern Ugandan morning. I promise myself I'll never forget this moment, this feeling, this landscape. The plane is dropping fast now, speeding over schools, houses, unfinished buildings--so many unfinished buildings. Suddenly, we're on top of Lake Victoria's cool, greenish expanse, and then we're right over the runway. I wonder briefly if it's gotten any bumpier, but before I can brace myself we're down. The engine roars as we slow and taxi to a stop. Sleepy-eyed people stand, stretch, pull out luggage, speak in Luganda to their neighbors. The loud Ohio State fan sitting next to me complains that he still has a four hour trip to Mogadishu. I shrug and say it's about the same to Mbale, and we start down the narrow strip of carpet between seats. A minute later, I'm walking through a yellow tunnel with a stairway leading to the ground. The scent of cook-fires and morning freshness greets me. Birds whose songs I haven't heard in a year are chattering all around. A cicada screams brashly in the distance. As I go down the steps, important-looking Ugandans with name badges mill around, not visibly accomplishing anything. I take a deep breath and step out onto the tarmac.

I'm home.


packing didactically

Lessons learned while packing:

-Sewing boxes shut with twine is perhaps not as effective as using tape.

-If you're going to try sewing your boxes shut, make sure you have a good thimble. Pushing a needle through cardboard without one is painful.

-The best thing about packing the last bits of miscellaneous stuff is the opportunity to use the word "miscellany."

-Shoving your hand into a trash can which contains a broken glass french press jar is a bad idea.

If you're like me, remember these things. If you aren't like me, then continue to exercise the common sense that sets you apart from me.



I've been on one continent for a year--far too long--and I can feel the restlessness rising. I can't wait for the bustle of the airport, the sinking feeling of the plane taking off, the insane heart-in-my-throat anticipation of landing with the knowledge that a joyful reunion is only a stroll through customs away. I'm impatient with mundanity, ready for an adventure, trying to avoid packing and somehow hoping that everything will jump into boxes of its own accord. I'm tired of saying goodbyes, ready to just move on, get started with something new.

I'm going home. Uganda-home. It won't be the same. I'm scared. I can't wait. Have I changed? Has it? Have they? Are the roads better? Worse? Does Daawat still have the best naan? Does it still get palak paneer and malai kafta mixed up half the time? Is MTN still the Missing Telephone Network? Will the water taste funny? Are fresh chapatis on the side of the road at 6pm as good as I remember? Will I remember to say trousers instead of pants?

And my real questions: Am I going home? Or will I find myself just as surely an mgeni among wananchi in Uganda as I am state-side?