Entry #49: It’s a Struggle Here But…

Date: Saturday 17 August 2019
Time: 9:00PM
Location: Deeeeeep in the village


So, what’s it like living without electricity and stuff?

I’ll get back to you when I recharge laptop in town.

It’s only been a week without electricity and it’s been quite manageable, more than I thought at least. It’s kind of strange to think that we’ve practically lived with electricity our entire lives in America. Watching television and playing with our electronic gadgets, it’s just a different experience not being entertained what’s on your screen.

For many people in the village, once the day is done, all we can really do is cook, converse, and cruise for the rest of the day. After working in the field or even returning from town, not having electricity means we get to spend a lot more time with other people. I don’t want to make things sound like it’s all flowers and dandelions, being the foreigner here, because I don’t have the luxury of retreating back to my technology, I am quite obligated to be in the presence of others, after all haha.

Consequentially, it means you’re losing out on personal privacy.

Oh yeah, privacy is defined a little differently in Uganda.

What do you mean?

Privacy in the American sense; your home is your home.
Privacy in the Ugandan sense; your home is an extension of our home.

Visitors will come and go freely around your neighborhood, and it’s customary to greet everyone you meet with welcome arms. It’s quite lovely at first, with smiles and laughs being traded with every person. But, imagine you are having a bad day. You don’t want to greet anyone and would rather just stay quiet.

Your privacy isn’t necessarily disregarded, but regardless of how you’re feeling, it would be quite rude to turn the other cheek while you are huddled in your home.

Okay… well what about the rest of your lifestyle, like cooking?

Manageable…?

I’ve cooked with charcoal a lot during my time in homestay and it was quite enjoyable. Even in Hawai’i, I enjoyed cooking on the grill because of that smoky taste and scent. However, I’m only using a gas stove because we’ve only just moved here.

I can only buy as much as I can carry. A stove, as you would imagine, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to be flopping around.

Cooking, at that point, is pretty much the same. The cooking part is easy, preparations and everything else surrounding it? Quite different.

Think about your light sources and appliances.

Doing everything by hand and with limited options for proper lighting makes it a bit of a challenge to cook at night. For now, I’m using candles and solar lanterns to illuminate my working space. It certainly does the job!

And everything else?

Laundry; hand-washing
Entertainment; writing and learning the language
Music; a precious way to spend battery
Communication; on during the day, off at night

The means to get electricity aren’t…too difficult, it just takes more planning and more conscious thought in to what you’re doing everyday. Consider me making these blog posts! Generally, I’m writing these out with pen and paper, then typewriter, and then to my laptop. By that point, I have already made a decent enough draft to simply crank out on the go.

The same with photos, I’ve gotten a bit better at managing my photos and having all the time working in analog helps me with the overall process just a bit more. I was used to having no electricity in that aspect anyways haha.

Well, it’s not that bad then is it?

It’s a struggle, but in a good way.

I’d be lying if I said I’m truly, truly enjoying everything right now. Without the comforts of home, it’s pretty easy to lose motivation. But shiii, I never really was a taker on the idea of having “motivation.” I believe in innovation.

  • No electricity meant using candles and solar energy.
  • No plumbing meant collecting rainwater in whatever receptacle I had and working together with my community members to fetch water
  • No friends meant making friends.

So what, things are hard? Peace Corps would be losing a lot of money if I got up and quit just because things got “difficult.” I’ve firmly admonished in my mind that these struggles aren’t enough to sway me away from my personal mission. I’m here to stay, here to learn.

I’ve been able to remember what I’ve been doing throughout the day more, I guess I’m a lot less distracted throughout the day. My attention has been more focused on living in the present, cause I have to pay attention to how much battery I have on my laptop, haha.

10% remaining btw.

Because of the lack of means to access other conversations and outside means, the more that I am in tune with the conversations right in front of me. In a way it’s quite liberating.

Definitely cumbersome to manage a website, but definitely not impossible!

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