Light Switches, Cars, Sirens, and Yes Coffee

by wonderfullyrich on October 14, 2010

So I know, I'm spoiled, but where do American get this coffee?  I was "raised" on coffee over the last year an a half in Eastern Africa as except for the smell of coffee in the morning, I used to hate coffee, preferring instead hot chocolate.  I thought it was bitter disgusting water, and couldn't conceive of how people enjoyed it so much.  And the smell teased me, hinting at a complex and sweet taste that made me try coffee occasionally in spite of my past memory.  

Maybe it's a bit of a fib to say that I was raised on coffee while I was in Eastern Africa, as I was a coffee lover before that.  I was converted based on Clover coffee makers.   It was the first coffee that I could taste the same smells I'd been teased by all my life.  It was extraordinary and it set me on the path of enjoying coffee rather then just drinking little bits for the caffeine.  But except for Clover coffee, I never really found great coffee here in the US.

Now don't get me wrong, East African's don't really drink coffee.  It's more of a Muzungu act.  They drink tea more often and "Fanta" in luei of that. (Used the same way the South uses "Coke" to indicate a soda/pop.)  So it's hard sometimes to imagine why a culture that doesn't really like it, prepares it and exports it to other cultures.  Then you remember the long history of colonialism and coffee that I won't get into.  It still begs the question of why I like East African coffee as compared to what you get from your local supermarket, or cafeteria, or etc.  (No I have not had a Starbucks yet, I'm still in price shock so 3-4 dollars for coffee seems idiotic).  

I can't answer it yet, either because I'm to jet lagged to think clearly or because this coffee just hasn't woken me up yet.  There is just something about freshly ground Burundian drip coffee that is the epitome of coffee love for me.  Mbale (Uganda) comes a close second, but this fair trade organic crap that I've tasted here is just that bitter water I used to hate.  No offense to the fair trade or organic nature of it, but it is really just diluted horribleness.  Maybe I will have to break down and have a Starbucks, if for no other reason then I can get a true espresso which at least might ease my taste buds.  So I admit to being another one of those odd coffee snobs.  Call me the Italian or Frenchmen who act appalled when you hand him a cup of joe.  

Oh might I mention, light switches are supposed to go on the outside of the room to which you are lighting (in the least nature place).  Cars on the road are supposed to run me down on the left side of the street, and what is this stopping business?  What do you mean there's a sign?  Is the sign carrying an AK-47 and blowing a whistle at you?  Then why are you stopping for it?  Oh you mean there are rules that I'm supposed to follow like staying inside the painted lines?  I see, wait no I don't get it.  You mean I'm supposed to follow the street lights and enter a roundabout without the guiding assistance of the previously mentioned cop with the AK & whistle?  That's just weird!

I'm supposed to be cut off in a queue by mothers with children on there backs and everyone else who ignore my and everyone seldom protests about cutting in line.  Sirens are supposed to indicate the occasional ambulance stuck in "The Jam" or some big wig who decides it's time to come in from Entebbe.  I keep being confused because there are so many sirens that fill the night sky.  Who are all these Ministers, and where's the armed guards? And what is this idea of having a bus that has a schedule?  No bus in Kampala ever leaves within 5 mins of when it was "scheduled."  Of course for the same amount it cost me to get from Chicago to South Bend, I could take two passengers and travel (for 18 hours) from Kampala to Bujambura.  It's all baffling.

Oh and one more thing, when did the Midwest become Antarctica?  The sun is totally in the wrong place and I swear it feels like it's a the same angle I remember when i was there.  I keep thinking that's why it's so damned cold, I mean I brought my long underwear and wool socks, but this is ridiculous.  It's 10 degrees outside (C not F), which is a good 10 degrees south of normal!  EEEK! And don't tell me it's a warm Fall, you are on a different planet!  I guess I'll have to keep drinking this wacky ass coffee to keep warm. (Until I think this is normal an am equally annoyed by Kampala weather.)

Needless to say I'm wandering around a little dazed, slightly confused, occasionally impressed, and slightly horrified.  I'm not sure if this is really home.  I remember it, but it's amazingly foreign to me right now. 

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