Q: What do bowling, an Irish pub and a wedding have in common? A: All were part of my week 2 experiences! (More photos too!)

15 12 2009

Click here to check out more recent photos from my trip.

This week has been filled with more only-in-Uganda type of adventures. While in many ways life is way slower here, it still feels like there is something happening every second. I’m struggling to find a balance between wanting to do and see everything to soak it all in and managing to just be and adjust to living here too. I’ll write more details about living here in a separate post but for now thought I’d share a few interesting activities from the past week. As far as I know, Uganda has one bowling alley, called “Alleygators.” For the most part, it looked like what you think a bowling alley/arcade would look like, with just a few differences…We bowled barefoot as there are no shoes to borrow. There is electronic scoring, complete with cheesy congratulatory graphics when you get a strike or a spare. Sometimes the lane even knocks downs pins for you 🙂  The lights over the pins went out a few times and something fell from the ceiling into the lane but other than that, just like home! I have the feeling bowling attracts more of the ex-pat crowd than locals but nonetheless it was a good time.

Speaking of ex-pats, there is an Irish pub in Kampala called Bubbles O’Leary’s that has become somewhat of an institution for any foreigner visitor in Uganda. Every other Thursday night is quiz night – an event that had been mentioned to me repeatedly since I arrived. It is just like a quiz night you would find in any other pub with 10 rounds of questions and drink offs for teams who tie. The winning team has to write the questions for the next quiz night. The most interesting thing about it is that because the participants come from different countries and are so varied in their backgrounds, the questions they come up with and breadth of knowledge in the place is astounding. Only here would someone actually think to ask (and people actually be able to answer), what is the name of a river that starts in Angola and ends abruptly in the Kalahari. (Way to go to my roommates who came up with the answer: Okavango River)


The ex-pat adventures are fun and have made a huge difference in my ability to adjust but I have to say, one of my favorite experiences so far has been a totally authentic local Ugandan event. This weekend, I went to an introduction ceremony for a Ugandan wedding. Weddings here consist of a traditional ceremony (like what I attended) followed by a church ceremony at a different date and time. The introduction ceremony is where families of the bride and groom are formally introduced, gifts are exchanged, etc. To be honest, there is a lot that I still don’t understand about what all was happening so don’t quote any of this as hard facts. I went to the wedding with my landlord, Fred and his wife Juliet. They are a young couple who are both pharmacists. I had mentioned to Fred that I had heard about Ugandan weddings and he invited me to join them at his classmate Liz’s wedding. This is not uncommon as weddings here are huge (there were about 400 people) and anyone who is family, friend or knows family or friends of the bride and groom are invited. The ceremony is long! It started at 1pm and ended after 11pm and included sitting in the same spot to eat, watch performances and listen to lots and lots of speeches (there were African dance performances but no guest dancing – bummer). This was a traditional wedding and the dress code for the event was Gomesi, a specific style of dress worn for formal occasions in Uganda. Different tribes have different styles of dresses but again I’m still learning who wears what and when. I borrowed a Gomesi from one of my new friends, Roselyn and included a few shots from the wedding in the linked album above. I also had to borrow a separate garment which goes under the dress and is meant to give you a bigger hips and butt, a sign of beauty here (not going to lie, what American woman wouldn’t enjoy being told they need to look bigger!). The variety of colors, patterns and fabrics of the dresses worn to the wedding was stunning. The bride wore different outfits and chose red and gold as the theme colors for the wedding. The guests sat in lawn chairs under different tents depending on whether you were with the bride or the groom. The bride’s family (and caterers) walked around to guests constantly checking on them and bringing them drinks. The objective is to ensure everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves so the family personally tends to the guests. Not only was it nice to experience this tradition in a different country but it was also fun to have lots of quality bonding time with Ugandans. Our lives are so different and I love every opportunity to just hang out and talk. It is harder than I thought to find common ground and experiences so the wedding was a a really enlightening experience.




3 responses

30 12 2009

Your posts are wonderful. I am so happy for the experiences you are getting to have. The wedding story actually brought tears to my eyes. What a privilege and a blessing you are being allowed to have.

Continue with joy on your journey, we’ll see you before you know it.

Have a great New Year celebration!


2 01 2010

Thanks so much Todd! I picked up a stone for you from a hike I just did along the Kenya-Uganda border. I can’t wait to share stories with you. You have to find another opportunity to get to Africa – it is so amazing and I know you would love it. Hope the holidays went well for you 🙂

– Allison

29 04 2010

great post. please if you want to buy more gomesi get to me

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