Yesterday was sunday and I decided to do a true ‘vacation’ day, which means I did very little at all.
I got up late, I lounged by the “pool” (the pool is indeed an inground pool, but it is about 15′ x 10′, so it is more of a ‘soak in the cool water to get out of the heat’ pool than a ‘swimming’ pool) for a couple of hours, where I met two americans from Cooperstown, NY who were about to go back to the US after a month in Uganda working for an NGO they had formed to help refugees from Congo, Burundi and some from Rwanda (catering to french-speaking refugees, seems there’s an NGO for everything).
I went to the lounge for lunch, had a salad and decided I was still hungry. Desperately trying to avoid the $2 candy bars, I then ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. I was still hungry afterwards for some reason, but kept my willpower up and managed to not get the candy bar. Given that I do no exercise and largely eat crappy food, I’m trying to cut down on the candy and soda. Soda is particularly hard as really the choices are: coke (no diet), water, beer, and sometimes boxed juice.
After lunch I decided to hang out in the lounge and read my book, and there I met “L” who works for the Dept of Health in NYC working to improve neonatal health care. She is spending all 3 weeks of her vacation here in Uganda working for a community development program for orphan-based local NGOs.
Once again, I am struck by the fact that almost everyone I meet is here in some way volunteering or working for charitable causes. This has certainly been the most though-provoking portion of my trip. It really makes one evaluate one’s own situation in the world and what we are each doing to make it a better place.
L and I spent most of the day together companionably reading our respective books (she, like many others I see around the hostel, reading Harry Potter). Around 2 in the afternoon it started to downpour. Monsoon-quality downpour. At some point during my preparation for this trip I had been misinformed, or else I misinterpreted, that a raincoat would not be necessary this time of year. I have one of those “use once” rain ponchos, but I’m trying to save that for the gorilla trekking as I think it will be pretty wet there. Fortunately, I haven’t been caught out too badly yet.
The rain lasted around 2 hours but stopped just in time for the weekly hostel BBQ.
The BBQ was expensive by local standards (8000 shillings or around $6) but the food was very good. Hotdogs, hamburgers, bbq chicken, potatoes, salad, beans, pasta salad, etc. I am not sure if it was all-you-can eat, as one plate-full was more than I could handle. L and I spent a lot of time talking about the work she does here and back in NY and the outlook on the Uganda situation.
Overally a very satisfactory, lazy day.
This a.m. I am back in Kampala and I think I can safely offer the verdict that posting photos to the blog is not going to happen anytime in the near future.
After leaving the internet cafe this morning I wanted to walk around the city and see what there is to see. I decided to head uphill (Kampala is a city spread over many hills) which took me in the direction of the upmarket hotels. As it happened, another monsoon rainstorm happened just as I was arriving at the Sheraton, one of the most expensive hotels in Kampala (as a comparison, it runs around $375/night versus my $10 per night at the hostel). So, it seemed an ideal, if expensive, place to kill an hour and I ordered a light lunch and tea which was actually not as expensive as I would have expected. It was definitely the nicest (and cleanest) environs I have been to since arriving in Kampala. After the rain I walked around the city for about an hour but the rain made the sidewalks really slippery.
It seems most of Uganda is undergoing renovations in anticipation of the 8 minutes the Queen of England will be coming to Uganda in November. Buildings in podunk towns she’ll never see are being completely redone. And in Kampala, all the streets are being torn up and so there’s this red clay-like mud everywhere. I don’t know how people manage to traverse it without falling but most people seem to. I gave up after an hour and decided to stop at the big mall again on my way back to the hostel. Going to try to photo uploads again, but am not optimistic.
Tomorrow I leave for Jinja for a couple of days and then for Sipi Falls. Not sure what kind of email access I’ll have, so sit tight for updates. I’m hoping to get some good quality hiking in, to reduce my overall sloth-like feeling.
I’ll end on one final note. On today’s matatu ride into Kampala the morning radio call-in program was a sort of “love-line/therapy” show and today’s call was from Diana who was very upset her boyfriend of 3 years had decided to be come a Rastafarian after getting into Reggae music for a year. She said she was under the impression that Rastafarians are wild and do a lot of drugs and she doesn’t want her boyfriend to become like that. Should she end the relationship now?
This seemed like it was to be the topic of the morning. Some saying yes she should end it because if she can’t tolerate her new religion there’s no point in going forward. Others said this might just be a fad, or she may be being prejudiced about what being a rasta really means. However at one point one of the radio hosts said “besides, if he goes Rasta that means he’s going to dump her for a muzungo girl [white girl] anyway”. the female radio host was very upset by this comment and much time was spent discussing the topic. it was definitely interesting to listen to!
Tags: Africa, Kampala, Uganda