Uganda and Your Senses

There is a lot to see, hear, and feel in this country. Sometimes it feels like an assault on all your senses, and sometimes it feels like the most serene state you could find yourself in. Here's a few snippets of what you might expect to experience (the good and the bad) during your stay in the Pearl of Africa.

What You'll See...


Yes, there's no doubt you'll see poverty, illness, hardships and a lot of other needs when you look around. The needs are great, but if you get too caught up in them it could be the only thing you see. If that's happens, you'll miss out on the rest of the story.


You'll also see an immense resilience, an overcoming of struggle, a strength that almost glows inside the people here. You see it most in the most beautiful of smiles - one that comes from a true understanding of deep joy in the midst of suffering.


The plants are green, the dirt is red, and the Ugandans are all about bright colors. If they're not wearing them they're on every sign, building, and storefront you'll see. Bright colors are on trend in Uganda. Neutrals only happen when there's not other options.


You can't go to Uganda and not see the sunshine.  But the sunsets are breathtaking.  Just like Ugandans, its filled with brighter oranges and pinks than in other parts of the world.  Sometimes its magnified by the dust floating in the air, giving a picture of beauty in the midst of something dirty.


Rain storms and dry heat storms are a staple here most months out of the year (except December-March).  If you're from somewhere that rarely has storms (like the Pacific Northwest) you'll be both amazed and maybe terrified by the power and strength witnessed in the center of these storms.


There is a lot of beauty to see in Uganda.  It's green, lush, tropical, open, mountainous, and I'm pretty sure the sky is bigger than anywhere else in the world.  You can see the stars and Milky Way when power goes out in town.  You can see landscape, nature, and raw life almost everywhere you go.  The people are stunning, their smiles are contagious, and its a beautiful place to behold.

What You'll Hear...


There are over 1,000 different species of birds that have been recorded in Uganda.  That's not a typo...1,000 different types of birds.  They're all different sizes, and sing all different songs (some beautiful and some that sound like they're laughing at you).  The loudest among them of course, the rooster.


I couldn't even tell you what kind.  There's too many, and I've never been curious enough to hunt for the sources.  But you'll definitely hear them.  Some of them sound like birds, but they're actually giant tree bugs.  Some of them sound like frogs, and probably are frogs.


Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, worship songs, pop hits, and African R&B with some backstreet boys sprinkled in.  Since there's no noise restrictions here people do as they please including neighbors playing music like they're the hottest night club until 6am.  (Choose your neighbors wisely.)


Don't be surprised when you get a honk or two.  Honking is a very communicative road practice here, and is used in a variety of different ways - none of which include road rage which is quite rare here.


Ugandans love to laugh, and you'll be better off if you can laugh at yourself because they'll certainly find reasons for expressive laughter at the funny foreigner who can't tell which bill is which. Laughter at someone is not disrespectful or condescending and you'll have a lot more fun if you laugh with them.

What You'll Smell...


Raw life

As soon as you get off the plane, you'll notice the smell is different.  Some say it smells like dirt.  You'll smell that too, because there's a lot of it in the air.  But there's an authenticity to it, a genuine raw life you can smell right away.


Let me be clear, Ugandans are very clean, hygienic, and well kept.  I will never understand how they walk through mud and their shoes remain spotless.  But it's hot and humid here, most of them do manual labor, and natural body odor is hard to avoid especially when deodorant use is rare.  Please be considerate, humble, and kind about this.


The thunder and lightning storms here dramatically change the smell of the whole area by washing away some of the dust in the air.  The smell after a good rain is very refreshing.


Along with other market smells, market items don't come in sealed containers like we're used to.  Everything is out in the open, which means the smells mix with each other, the strongest of which is of course the fish section of the markets.  Don't say I didn't warn you.


There is so much life all around you, whether its grass, bushes, trees or other tropical vegetation, the green life here certainly adds to the smell around you in the best ways possible!

What will you feel?
dirty -
bumpy - 
touching - people
warmth - ok so maybe its just humidity but you rarely get cold in this country.  The warmth is everywhere as most places don't have A/C.  It's actually much easier on your body to adjust to the heat fully rather than move in and out of hot and cold.
mosquito bites - 
What will you taste?