African Home Makeover

Living the life of a vagabond can require some creativity when cultivating a space to call home. My last adventure was 8 months in Central and South America, which meant home was wherever I laid my mochila down for the evening. I traveled like a turtle, carrying my home on my back everywhere I went. Moving to Africa and remaining in one place meant I could have a room of my own, something I did not always have in the states prior to leaving.

Upon first arriving, I was relieved to find my room at Mama Ali’s in such great condition. I have a plaster ceiling in addition to a tin roof which meant, cooler days and quieter rain showers (I’m not one to want to mute a rain shower but they can get down right torrential sometimes). My room has great light and my window has a view of Ali’s beautifully kept garden. I definitely lucked out.

The sitting room right outside my room is filled with lovely natural light as well but it felt a little lifeless until filled with family members during our big dinners.

I decided to make it my personal project to help spruce the place up. I figured if I was going to spend at least seven months here, I might as well help add some zen and leave it in better shape that I found it. I thought it would be fun to paint the walls and with Christmas around the corner and the arrival of my brother fast approaching, the timing seemed perfect.

First, Arafat and I went into town to research pricing and color options. The Byindi (what they call Indians) store keeper was friendly enough to give us the one color pamphlet he had, which made selecting the color much more fun and easy. I wanted the family to decide on the color and after some voting we were between “fireball” and “pastel yellow.”

After consulting with a painter who lives next door, we decided that “pastel yellow” would be just right to brighten up the room. In addition, Mama Ali had already been thinking about and saving up for some royal blue cushions. Until now we had been sitting on a 28-year-old orange couch with no cushions and barren wooden chairs. Painting was just the little push Mama Ali needed to head to the local bank committee and ask for a loan.

One Saturday after the start of the New Year, Arafat and I went back to town to return their color chart we had promised to return weeks before, buy one roller brush, two smaller brushes and six liters of paint.

We excitedly returned home to get to work….


After some hours later we had a new living room with a new vibe

BeforeBefore #1

Before #2
Before #2


After #1
After #1
After #2
After #2

Since then, Arafat and I have found ourselves lounging and ‘schmoozing’ more often on our plush new cushions in our re-decorated room. We will spend weekend mornings with a full belly of paw padi (papaya), listening to the radio and chatting about this or that….once our food has began to settle we gather ourselves for some road work (running).

Despite all of its cultural differences, my time in Africa has given me a sense of home and routine.

Both things I couldn’t say I had in the States.


I hope everyone is enjoying 2013 thus far, and seeing as we are all still here, enjoying whatever life is throwing your way.

More to come soon…in the busy month of January I have discovered why Ugandans fear dogs and not mice and have had more deep religious conversations than the rest of my life combined.

Stay well xo

4 thoughts on “African Home Makeover

  1. Darlin Granddaughter…You are definately brightening the corner where you are…and enjoying it …Lookin forward to being with you in Houston when you arrive. My main job these days is getting business settled and clearing out files which have to be read…but its getting done s-l-o-w-l-y., Very mild winter here and it seems strange but iit is so pleasant we can’t complain. Thank you for keeping me on your out going mail list. Love you bunches….grand,ma

  2. Your room looks very nice. You are definitely “nesting” and making things pretty. How is Cassidy doing in Africa? Looking forward to seeing you when you return. Love you, Laura (and Bob).

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