Sunday, 7 November 2010

Inside Kampala

The street outside Mengo Hospital gates
Once I managed to crawl out of my mosquito netting I was in a panic to get outside. It was my first morning in Uganda. The video recorder under arm I stood in awe to savour the sounds and the smells. As the morning rose the scent of charcoal wafted through the air. I heard the Marabou Storks squawking along with other birds unseen. The foliage misted in my eyes as I heard the traffic start.
I’d decided before I’d left to keep in shape I’d run and work the resistance bands. The directions for a short loop were given to me the night before. Glad I took my trail runners.
The road is rugged. Boda-bodas screaming by. The women sit side-saddle. Cars move close to the edge. I scramble for a sidewalk. Non-existent. Pedestrians watch out for traffic. Not the other way around.
The hill came to view. I was already sweating. I paid my “How are you?” respects to everyone I saw. As I started up the hill a driver of a Boda-bodas gave me a thumbs up and cheered me on. I passed other joggers. Not Ugandans.
Once I arrived home for the post-run work-out I was dripping. Welcome to Uganda. Temperature warm. It was only 7 a.m.
The day passed quickly. We’d decided to visit the city centre.
Getting there was interesting. A scenic tour it was not. If I were to retrace my footsteps I wouldn’t know where to start. The five of us had piled into a 12 passenger van. A Ugandan woman who sat beside me weathered a handkerchief to her face. I should of brought one of those I think to myself.
On route to Kampala (chickens on top)
We piled out onto a street. It was busier then I imagined. Crossing the street a challenge. We’d set out for a fabric store. Eventually we found it. We were told the materials were Nigerian. Some in the group were skeptical. I adored the patterns.
Our next challenge was a book store and paints for tomorrow’s Saturday Club. The dawdle around Kampala was full of colour, noisy motorcycles and cars. Street vendors surprisingly sold nick nacks from China. I was keen to experience Ugandan crafts. None to be found.
The banana ladies in downtown Kampala
The banana ladies were vibrant. They graciously walked through the streets with a load on their heads. I would later ask one if I could take her picture close-up. She refused. I discovered afterwards I’d captured her from behind.
We found an Indian restaurant and ate well. I surmised the tastiest Indian food I’ve ever had. Cost to us each in Canadian dollars $15 with leftovers to go.
Darkness soon enveloped the city. A taxi for hire to get us where we needed to go. Four in the back and two in the front. Traffic jams are common. Roadside gutters and deep, deep potholes cause diversions and in the rains stalls. In time we arrived back to Mengo Hospital and Jaajja Qwen’s Guest House. Exhausted. Full of the soot of the city. Population rumoured to be in the two million mark. The first inside of Kampala experience. 
Tomorrow I begin the Uganda Wishes journey. 

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