Somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, deep in the tropical rainforest and savanna is a magical land with the equator splitting directly through it. A place where the only nonrenewable resource on this planet feels plentiful… a resource that most want more of, but can’t buy.
The name of this somewhere is Uganda, and the magical resource is time.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become consciously protective of my time, and choosy about things I let come into contact with it. In this modern world it feels like every force is tugging time away from us, and simultaneously hurrying up the remaining moments that we possess.
The fallout manifests itself into a task of managing and mitigating the minutia: the to-do lists, the Internet… tight schedules that keep us running from one thing to another.
Of course, Uganda doesn’t offer 25 hours in a day, but what the country does offer is a slowing-down affect that tranquilizes the fixed 24 hours that all living creatures possess.
And when I say all living creatures, I mean that humans and the animals are on the same program here.
There is not one force that has the visceral effect of paralyzing time in Uganda. Instead, there are a collection of factors—that when unified—bring about an undeniable feeling of time abundance.
This slowdown starts upon arrival at the airport while watching the baggage man move gingerly behind a transparent glass. He moves one bag at a time methodically as his co-workers watch; your bag is close, but it sits on the sidelines while the workers laugh and talk about football.
It’s all the stops and breakdowns in the local transport. At first, they feel unproductive… and then they transform into moments of conversation and laughing.
It’s the symphony of sounds in the countryside: the children laughing, drums beating and echoing off a placid lake… birds making all sorts of different noises, there are so many types of birds….
It’s the intense force of the sub-Saharan rain that floods the streets and puts a pause on everything moving; often deducing one’s reality to the single choice of waiting it out.
It’s the lack of crying among children as they sit calmly in their parent’s arms over the course of long and crammed-in bus rides.
It’s the realization that in poor country things quite often don’t work, and nobody is on the proactive. Things will be fixed eventually if they are a necessity, but only if they are a necessity. If not, it will happen on the legendary day of ‘tomorrow’ that never comes.
It’s the lack of choices… down to the simple fact that tying shoes takes time, but if you have no shoes to tie, then there is more time.
It’s the reality that the menu items in a provincial restaurant are limited, and a choice is a far-off luxury that doesn’t exist.
It’s looking up from your bed into a mosquito net that blurs the rest of the room into a dreamlike haze.
It’s the hotel worker who hangs laundry out to dry, only to keep it hanging during the daily rainy-season rain, resulting in wetter clothes than the day before.
It’s the gorillas in the wild that have nothing to do but eat and chill.
It’s the wifi that will fail you…
It’s midday pool-table culture in dimly-lit rooms that are plentiful in every town.
It’s the one paddle moving a canoe forward, and no matter how hard one paddles, the canoe will only go one speed: very slow.
It’s the lush hues and shades of the vegetation in the countryside that paralyzes the human eye with a whole new understanding of the color green.
It’s the long and real smiles drawn out on people’s faces…
Pushing time in Uganda has the same results as planting a palm tree in Chicago. But when you submit to the reality that Ugandan forces are beyond your control, the forces beyond your control sneakily reward you with what you’ve been wanting more of all along…. the magical sensation of having an abundance of time.
While any westerner can feel monetarily rich in Uganda, the unique wealth comes from a place that gives us what we can’t buy… that non-renewable resource we all try to obtain more of in our daily lives. In Uganda, the magical resource can be found… it’s on sale everywhere, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Gavin negotiating our transport.
Prepping for the long haul…
Gavin, me, and a Crested Crane (my favorite bird)
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