Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Last Days in Uganda

Today Jennifer leaves, and I leave the day after tomorrow. I wish that I would have had more time and access to blog more often so I would have recorded my range of emotions, but I only blogged twice, so all you will see is this, I'm tired.

Vacations are tiring in general, but what is really tiring is being a Mzungu (white) in barganing Uganda. Everyone assumes you have a lot of money so they charge more for things if you are a Mzungu. Jennifer was a volunteer in Uganda so she had to keep her costs down to Ugandan prices, so I have learned just how much they inflate the prices for us.

So what am I to do when I am alone without Jennifer? Should I pay the prices they ask, knowing they are unfair? Should I bargain down to Ugandan prices, keeping the people from making money they could use (thats not an option, I am giving money to a Ugandan who needs it more, the orphan scholar.) So that means I have to bargain with people tomorrow, especially for transportation. That is so frustrating.

Tomorrow I am going to a chimp island to watch them feed. I will be paying $55 for the boat ride and the feeding. I hope it is worth it. I am scared, frankly, to be alone here. I don't think anything will happen to me, but I stand out like a sore thumb here and without Jen with me I will be more self-concious. the worst part will be the barganing.

There is an upside. Jen lived in Morocco for years, and if you even get eye contact there with someone you set yourself up to be harrassed, so she can seem a little cold. I wonder if I will have a better experience since I am a warm person, or maybe I will have a worse experience since I will look more like a target.

People really do see white skin as equivilent to wealthy. Many white Americans are unable to distinguish different classes of black people, it appears many Ugandans are unable to distinguish different classes of white people. We were in a ritzy hotel yesterday and no one seemed to notice that we really didn't belong there.

I hoped that this trip would change me, unfortunately it didn't change me the way I hoped. Instead of being inspired to dedicate my life to helping, it has hardened me. I can now see the lifestyle of people in the poorest parts of the world, am aware just how much of the world is like that, and so see that the problems are too big for me to make a noticible dent.

On the other hand, I feel very excited about sponsoring the orphan. He has great potential, and I feel that the money that goes to his education will help exponentially, unlike a meal handed to a beggar. I will keep you up to date with his progress.

And I do have the bug in me. I want to go to India next summer. I know now that I can handle witnessing the poverty. And after feeling important, being treated like I was a volunteer, when really I was just a tourist, felt good. Maybe if I went back to school and became a Physical Therapist I could feel that again. I could donate time offering Physical Therapy to people who cant afford it.

I don't know how I feel when I get back, maybe I will wish I was back here, maybe I will be glad I am home with my privledges like free running water, flushing toilets, and set prices. It will probably be both.

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