Entry #57: Perfume without Scent

Date: 11/10/19
Time: 8:56am

There comes a point where everything I’m doing in Uganda has kind of normalized in my life.

My lifestyle here has adapted to what I know is good and true and I feel okay living here. Neither ecstatic or dissatisfied. Everything kind of just feels like it’s supposed to be. And it’s a weird feeling.

Comparators never did anyone good, but I’ll make one anyway, lol.

My life back home

My life back home was much more of the hustle and bustle of life. It was about finding every opportunity to capitalize for personal gain and every hour of every day was filled with an agenda. I was on a mission every day to do something, optimizing every bit of rest, work, commute, and food I had.

My routine was packed with so many things that I thought were necessary to my life and survival, like making coffee at the exact temperature or always holding my steering wheel a certain way when I was in focus mode, or just having things end exactly on an increment of 5 or 0 minutes, on the dot.

But now, it feels like the total opposite.

Most times here in Uganda, I feel like I’m just relaxing the day away.

Because of my home and work environment, everything I do is magnified. Every action and thought feels like it’s put under a microscope because I am a foreigner. I do things differently. And this bothered me.

It bothered me to a point that I came to adapt local culture to try and get rid of my foreign lifestyle. I didn’t like being under a microscope anymore. Every action had its consequence and even when the consequence had benefitted me, it was the principle of being watched that I had difficulty working with.

My life now

My life now is a lot less filled with activities. Wake up to garden, discuss plans for the organization, eat lunch, and do my chores. Really, that’s the majority of my life now.

It’s a much shorter list of things that I’m doing out here. I’m not on YouTube searching for the next optimal sleeping strategy or finding the best application to take notes. I’m not up all night on Google searching things up like what’s the best socks for running, I’m just here and that’s about it.

It’s a feeling of disconnect with the world and connectedness with my life around me.

Is that a good thing?

Yes and no.

Yes, for the fact that living in the present has afforded me a lot time not worrying so much about my past mistakes and pondering on my future self. But with a lot less attention on the world around me, when I come to the realization that I’ve been disconnected with the world I once knew, I feel lost.

I don’t know what my friends are doing back home.
I don’t know how my parents are doing back home.
I’m not there to support the people I once knew in times of need.
I’m no longer a simple walk down the street from all of my loved ones.

And there’s so many things that you realize how different things might be when you leave!

It’s a mix of thankfulness for the life you have now, the life you have before, and the people who still keep in contact with you. But also a sense of sorrow and disbelief that I won’t be back for another two years.

It’s a strange feeling working abroad

I wish there was a word for it.

Maybe I’ll make a word for it myself. I dunno. I have friends here, both Ugandan and with other Peace Corps Volunteers, but sometimes there still feels like a gap that I can’t fill right now.

I have mostly everything I need here as a volunteer: money for food, a safe place to sleep, meaningful work, and adequate time to rest from all of it. But there’s something still missing among that entire equation. Like eating food without taste or perfume without a smell. Looks without satisfaction.


  • Lono , November 9, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

    Aloha Josh, sounds like you are adjusting well. As you pass the time, You can also document with your camera, capturing your present life and journal it on this blog! Would love to see how things are from your perspective! Enjoy there, as here will always be here! I will check this blog to see how you are doing! Take care, a hui hou! Lono

    • Josh , November 18, 2019 @ 1:29 am

      Thanks for checking in Lono! For sure, I’ve been doing okay and things have definitely improved over months. Ho brah I miss the keiki at Pu’uhale. In February I’ll try make some time to visit the kids! Take care Lono!

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