This has not been an easy choice, as it seems that finding a perfect “safe haven" no longer is a reality for us, or anyone for that matter. But I will try to convey in this post a sense of what life is like here in Uganda, and what our reasons are for staying. Plus, we'll give you a little tour of our new home.
How bad is it in Uganda?
That we know of.
So now the real question is how will Uganda handle an outbreak?
Life in Uganda Today
Yesterday, life here continued more or less normally. Most people still went to work, and there was still plenty of traffic in the streets. Some things had been closed, such as schools and religious centers, the tourist industry had dried up, large social gatherings had been canceled, and the little mototaxis that zip around town had been forbidden. But besides that, daily life went on.
But today, things are supposed to change. No more driving around, even in private vehicles. No more going to work if you are not part of the allowed emergency and essential professions, and even if you are, you are supposed to camp and live next to your place of work for 14 days without going home. Unfortunately, I don't know how easy it will be to implement such social distancing and lock-down techniques here. This is a country where many people are used to living close together, sometimes with whole families staying in one room, and moving around is essential for many people to get their daily rice and bread.
But we will see. I believe if this country puts their mind to it, they can do anything for 14 days. But if it needs to be longer... there is no financial safety-net here big enough to support all the people that will need basic supplies without their jobs and without movement. So let's keep our fingers crossed for the people of Uganda.
The Ugandan Response
This is not Uganda's first time dealing with viral epidemics, and they have some good systems already in place from last year's ebola outbreak. I'm glad to see that the Ministry of Health, the president, and the government as a whole have taken this pandemic very seriously, and it appears like they are doing their best to keep the Ugandan people safe from the virus.
I hope that all of these precautions and measures work. We will see.
The Pros of Staying in Uganda
But also we don't really have a home in the US to return to, since we quit our jobs and sold everything to travel the world on our motorcycle. This means that if we were to fly back, not only would we be taking a big risk of getting the Coronavirus on the several flights required to get us to Chicago (one of which is through NYC), but we'd have to stay with family and friends once there. Therefore, we'd risk infecting them, and this would be a nightmare situation for us.
The truth is, as far as prevention goes, it's much safer for us and everyone else if we stay here where we have a wonderful house to live in that we really never need to leave.
The Cons of Staying in Uganda
But there's no place on the planet right now that has enough ventilators, so like I said before, finding that perfect “safe haven" that will be able to care for and hospitalize everyone who needs it is almost non-existent at this point.
The other apocalyptic scenario that could happen here is if a lot of people die, and others are going hungry and are angry and need someone to blame, they may take it out on mzungus (white people). They already call this virus the mzungu corona.
But I see the chance of this happening on a large scale to be slim. We have found the Ugandan people to be extremely welcoming and understanding. Plus, the place we are at is well guarded with high fences all around, and the staff here are wonderful.
Welcome to our new home!
So in the meantime, let me introduce you to our new home.
The property is huge and has lots of lawn space for going for a jog, doing exercises, or morning yoga, or simply reading in the shade of the banana trees. It's pretty nice, I have to admit.
But I think my favorite part of the place is Tom, the Red-Tailed Monkey with white whiskers. He's a wild monkey that steals bananas and guavas from our trees, but of course he's so cute, everyone just lets him.
At the moment, no one is going in and out of the complex unless it's for an essential purchase, and we try to have one person buy everything for everyone. Besides that, we stay here doing our best to enjoy and entertain ourselves, and I'm trying not watch the news every moment of the day because it makes me crazy. But that is the basic summery of our life in Uganda.