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“Feature: Insights from Ivan Musoke”

Travel…

I don’t really get worked up about travelling. Typically. It’s usually a fairly straightforward routine. Pack at the last minute, feel bad about leaving my nearest and dearest back home as I go gallivanting across borders, then, finally trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to get to the airport. No one will tell you this, but you need someone you can rope into your small talk for that ride. You do not want to be pulled into a discussion about politics for two main reasons;

  • For all you care you, you’ve been saddled with an undercover government operative and that trip could just as easily be your last
  • 90% of the time, these conversations are in vernacular and do not have subtitles accompanying them

Most memorable experience…

I find that you can tell a lot about the people in the country you are going to just by the environs around the airport. Look at it this way, you’ve got loads of greenery around Entebbe, which translates to a lot of ‘life’ and the people here are just bursting with life… I’ve gone to places with buildings all over the area as we are getting set to taxi and the people’s personalities are just about as lively as those grey structures.

The US was a little different because I could see an expanse of water as I was about to land and, in the distance, Lady Liberty. This kind of rubbished my theory because water is not necessarily lively nor is it dead. It’s just… there. What was cool about this trip was because I recognized stuff from school/movies/conversations. South Africa didn’t offer this benefit because between apartheid and crime, not much else is shared about the actually awesome rainbow nation, I imagine Uganda has it a little better because our potholes and dust are eager to greet you when you land.

Back to the US. I managed to cover quite a bit of ground (that story is covered elsewhere), a great deal of the time was spent fighting the mounting fear that I’d stupidly travelled with Malaria, but when I got over what may have been a jet-lag/airplane food hybrid, I was able to enjoy New Jersey, Austin, Texas and DC. Look, it’s very easy to put it down to ‘maalo’, which it probably was, but there’s a kick you get out of actually being right next to stuff you’ve only seen in the movies. There’s a difference between, “oh that thing with the President was built nicely” and “Whoa! I’m at the Lincoln Memorial…and the Reflection Pool… and that other place that they blew up in Independence Day. The White House! That’s the one!”

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Lessons learnt…

For some reason, everyone that stays in a foreign locale is under the impression that you can’t get lost. “It’s easy,” they are quick to point out, “and see, the streets are all numbered and stuff.” IT IS NOT THAT EASY! What you will want to do is download offline maps for wherever you are planning to go. That way, if the WiFi does not smile in your favor (yeah, your cellular data is probably going to leave you faster than a gold digger in a pub in Kabalagala) you should be able to go back to where you started.

The other thing you need to remember when you’re setting off on a trip is that the plane is not a restaurant. Their mandate is to move you from point A to point B, not to blow your mind with their cuisine. Plane food cannot be described as AWESOME. It’s manageable. It’s so-so, but it’s not the kind of thing you will keep looking back to as the highlight of your trip. It’s also quite probable that it will mess you up. I don’t know for sure whether my being out of sorts was purely jet-lag or the plane food or some unholy union of the two. I do know when I scaled down on the meals during the return leg, all I had to contend with when I landed was the desire to sleep. A lot. Everyone has a theory about how to deal with jet lag, there’s nothing conclusive, so just do you. If you need to sleep, go on. The body at some point will realize you’re not in Kansas anymore and relent.

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Bucket list…

That said, I wouldn’t mind taking another trip. Greece would be awesome because of the rich mythology, France, so I can be a pretentious jerk claiming I’m so romantic as I sip wine. With so many pages in my passport and a validity stretching into the next 10 or years, oh the places I could go.

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Catch more from Ivan on his blog: www.worktill8.com/blog  or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/musoke

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