Its story time, you readyyyyyyyyyy?!
Once upon a timeeeeeee, there lived a girl from a small village in Africa, in a country known to be the continent’s PEARL – Uganda🇺🇬 to be exact😎
This girl, as brilliant as she was, grew up, to be an exceptional being in academia and only got challenged by courses that she regarded as boring and excellently performed in courses everyone else found super challenging (this is the part where you roll your eyes)
And as assertive as she was, she was able to get herself a scholarship to study in Europe
Pretty obvious who that girl is, RIGHT😁?!
Yep, that’s me – Afande’s daughter aka Masanafu dweller
Growing up in Kampala (where Masanafu is located), meant being steeped in an environment I would find nowhere else – at least this is what I thought
The city is a uniquely fascinating one, especially the centre, and this is attributed to the following scenes all occurring at the same time: someone selling grasshoppers or groceries on the streets; a vendor chanting a repeated phrase as a way to catch the attention of passers-by to buy his merchandise; pickpockets looking out for prey that seem unaware of how to safe-guard their belongings particularly phones and wallets; random motorcycles stopping pedestrians to ask them if they want a ride to their destination; a lonely child or woman holding a toddler, that’s putting her hand out begging for money; someone from the city authority chasing after street vendors in the hope of confiscating what they are selling or further, arrest them for street vending is considered illegal to– it is a blend of scenes I can’t exhaust in one paragraph
That in mind, let’s travel back to Europe
One of the ‘FANCY” things about my scholarship is that it’s a mobility master’s study that involves studying from a different European country every semester, and the countries part of this consortium are Spain, Italy and France
In case you have been following my blogs, you prolly know that my first semester was in Spain, but in case you haven’t, yes my COOL SELF😎 has been journeying on European soil from last year and Spain was my first destination.
For my second semester, I am currently in Naples, Italy.
Naples is a metropolitan city in the south of Italy whose centre is stereotypically characterised as lively, chaotic and dangerous according to temporary and permanent citizens of the city and Italy, at large (this comparison is especially in regard to other cities in Europe)
The idea is that – from my experience so far – cities in Europe are meant to be typically modern, have an ambience of development, bustle and hustle to an extent, CLEAN, proper lanes for all vehicles et cetera.
Naples on the other hand, falls out of that subset
And for me, my first glance got me a feeling of déjà vu
The people are quite expressive
The traffic is insane, and motorcycle riders do the hell they want, just like boda boda guys in Kampala traffic
Pick-pockets are the order of the day
Chances of finding a cycling lane are slim to none (Kampala does better in this regard though, considering there’s a few of these in the centre and high-class residential areas like Kololo).
Sewage water flows across the street like it’s a normal thing – hey, I am not proud of this but it’s what it is
To mention but a few
During my stay, one of the most obvious questions asked by a stranger, during a small-talk session of becoming future acquaintances is, “Do you like Naples or How do you find Naples?”
And the me that thinks before speaking wonders, “hmmm, should I say the usual/what’s expected of a foreigner like myself i.e. “ohhh its chaoticccc, there’s too much traffic goshhhh I want to dieeee😭😩””
Naaaaa😅, my dramatic self chooses to say it as the Kampala girl in me has experienced it.
And in here (LONG READ OFCOURSE🤗), I share SEVEN COMPARISONS between Kampala and Naples, as I have experienced them for the last two months of getting around the city of Naples.
1. FIRST THINGS FIRST: Getting around – Walking, Cycling and the Metro
In Kampala, I use a bike to get anywhere within the city and a boda boda if I anticipate any challenge that might surface if I used my bike.
My Ugandan peers on the other hand drive around if they own cars and those without cars, use either motorcycles (boda boda) or taxis for journeys from the centre of Kampala to the city’s outskirts
In the first few days of living in Naples, the 3 things I prioritised to secure first for my six – month stay were a nice house to rent, a sim card with unrivalled internet-connectivity and OBVIOUSLY, a bicycle.
Luckily enough, I got the first two
Getting the last one however turned out to be a hopeless endeavour
There is no such thing as “Katwe” as in Kampala or a designated area for second-hand bike sales.
And while I HAD (still have) the option of buying a new bike, these are a bit pricey and taking into account of my height and Naples’ terrain, those that suffice cost north of 600 euros, which is about 2.4 million Ugandan shillings 🙄
When I ask acquaintances for recommendations for where I can get a bike from, their response is usually a question of how uninterested I am, in my life as this is considered a suicide mission.
Their concern is the absence of cycling lanes and the only option being: risking my life; sharing the road with other road users that are not exactly patient when using it and sometimes are reckless while at it.
And for someone that has experience in cycling through Kampala roads, I am never alarmed by their worries.
“You also know THAT Naples is Hilly!!!!!”
“Well, Kampala is located on hills too and their official number keeps increasing by the day”, my unalarmed-self responding😄
The other two options I have is either catching the bus or using the metro
For these two means of public transport, I would – by all means – choose the TAXI option in Kampala (what foreigners call matatu)
Taxis in Kampala don’t follow a time schedule and if not close to a taxi park, one can get a taxi within a maximum waiting time of about 5 minutes at a taxi stage or a junction next to the main road.
In Naples, it’s DISTRESSING, as these(the metro and buses) “take their time” and only come later than their scheduled times.
When it comes to the metro, there is two lines and the one that goes to the places I mostly go to during my stay in Naples, takes a maximum waiting time of 15 MINUTES before one can get into the next one.
And that’s not all, during the peak hours, it gets JAM PACKED (I am starting to sound a lot like a cry baby but hey, the Kampalan soul in me didn’t expect to find this in Europe)
The buses, on the other hand are NEVER on time – and mind you, that is if they are working that day because something that usually interrupts their working schedule does not happen that day (a strike for example)
One particular friend recommended renting an electric scooter, (which I have not used before) and was for a moment, an exciting adventure to consider.
Butttttt “Where was the exercise in all this?” was the question I asked myself before I disregarded the idea
Eventually, I was left with no vehicle options, but just my feet as the means to get around.
2. DISTANCES WALKED ON A DAILY BASIS
With my place of residence being located in Naples’s centre, I can easily access all things – from basic needs to night-life pleasures, just by walking
Including getting to the laboratory where I do my internship from, which is by far the MOST-FREQUENTED LONGEST JOURNEY I have walked my entire life
The LAB is located out of the city centre, and using Google maps’ recommendation, the shortest short-cut to get there is a 4.6 km journey, which is approximately a one-hour walk away from my place of residence
You’re probably thinking, “What kinda madness is that…….I’d would rather tolerate waiting for the bus/ metro than walking that much of a distance”
But what you prolly don’t know is the underrated endorphins I get from that morning walk that get me footing every other day.
I WILL not lie – walking to my lab is the literal example of sweating buckets.
I spend the first half of the ONE HOUR mounting hills, including a set of brutal stairs at some point during the distance
Not quite fun as you probably guessed
But the joy in knowing I kickstart my day with a workout (if you have attempted to consistently work out, you know how hard it is to create time for it), plus the splendid feeling from the endorphins keeps me exuberant for the REST of the day while at the lab
Eight weeks of doing it has sometimes found my mind cursing why I choose to have my body go through the boring trauma
I don’t let the thought get to me
Instead, I focus my mind on learning Italian through recorded audios as I walk ahead
For someone that gets by on foot, the clouds must be smiley 🌞 for that to happen – well gloomy at its worst (obviously when it cries🌧, I use the metro)
Naples, unlike Kampala, is in the North temperate zone and has four seasons
I arrived in February, what is considered the coldest month in Winter and by the time I published this, we had just got into spring
During my treks, I always have warm clothing to shield me from the cold and that seems okay for the beginning part of the journey, and the end – but not midway
Walking hills as you can imagine, can get sweaty
Doing this in cold months however, doesn’t seem so on the outside as the cooling effect of the cold winds tends to close off my sweat pores – I think
I can’t think of any other explanation of why face always FEELS DRY as I walk while the rest of the body is sweating
Quite uncomfortable if you asked me
This would never happen to me while in Kampala as: ONE; there is only 2 seasons – dry and wet and my face would still sweat regardless of the season, TWO; its geographical location confers it with warm conditions that I confess, I started to appreciate once I tested the wrath of the cold in “Bulaaya” (Bulaaya = outside Africa)
This part is a bit yucky so skip if you are easily sickened by anything repulsive
There are many aspects to talk about here but I’ll stick to the outstanding difference – DOG POOP💩
While it’s common practice for someone to own dogs in Naples and do things like taking a morning/evening walk with a dog in hand, it’s rare in Kampala (the commonest you will find is either stray dogs or security dogs)
Truth be told, pets are wonderful companions and yield the best out of people, which is obviously a sign of WELL–BEING
…….until they are owned by an irresponsible caretaker
I have had to forcefully get used to finding different poop sizes as I walk in the streets of Naples
From the slummy parts……….. to the bougie areas
And as a way of adapting, my brain subconsciously takes a trip down memory lane, to reminisce about one of the silly songs my peers and I sang during our “days”.
The highlight of the song – WARNING, it’s a silly one – is to correspond a VOCAL RANGE to the size of poop being sung about, that is; big sizes are sung with BASS and tiny ones with SOPRANO
And yes, I OBVIOUSLY teeth😁 as I loudly vocalise the song because it’s in Luganda and being in Italy, I know for a fact no one would understand my morning-lyrical mood😅
Thank goodness, Naples’ streets are not muddy (as in Kampala) and are tarmacked instead, OTHERWISE during spring, it would be another level of MESS and DISASTER for the eyes
5. CAT CALLING
Ladies and gentlemen……
“….And so shall it be, that a beautiful woman shall not go uncomplimented in the Kingdom of Naples…….”
I think there must have been an article in the kingdom’s constitution that mandated this sort of thing
Let’s agree, shouting sexual comments at a woman is wrong
In Kampala streets, girls tend to get comments like, “size yange” (my size) from the opposite sex, which is clearly a RUDE thing to say to anyone
In Naples however, it’s words like “Bellissima” (Very beautiful) that surface and in an EXCLAMATORY tone, that easily comes off as an appreciation remark
And honestly speaking, on days that I don’t get this sort of attention, I kinda question what I looked like that day – it has messed up my psychology this much😅
While moving around in Kampala, you can’t miss a Rolex stall every after a stretch of about 100m
In Naples, the trend is similar except the stalls are closer to each other with manifold snacks displayed all inviting you to try them
I have excitedly tried out anything – sweet or savoury – that crossed my face and I kid you not, I still haven’t exhausted it all and no, I don’t remember their names either 😅 – I know they were all good
7. Last one; TIME
In Uganda, we have a culture about scheduling appointments where if someone asks you to meet at say 10 am, by all means the meeting will happen at 1030 am or later
Some people go ahead to clarify, “Let’s meet tomorrow at 8am Ugandan time”
It’s worse if the meeting is a casual one with friends, as the actual meeting usually happens more than one hour into the agreed time
And yep, this is similar to Naples as you prolly guessed
Regardless of its location (Europe), I can CONFIDENTLY say that Naples somewhat feels like home
There is a lot more comparisons to make about Naples and Kampala but this being a blog post and not a book series, I will stop at these above
If you have any questions about this post, I am happy to answer to them in the comments section below🤗.