May 16th, 2015
We now have three days in Uganda under our belts! We arrived late Wednesday night after an exhausting 24 hour journey crossing the Atlantic Ocean and traversing three continents. Upon our arrival we were greeted at the airport by a man who we’ll call R, who we have quickly come to know as our driver/tour guide/friend/life saver. After packing our bulging luggage into his small car, tetris-style, he drove us to Visitor’s Village – our guesthouse in Kampala, the capital city. There we were greeted by the friendly owner, we’ll call him E, who we have since discovered is the most welcoming, hospitable person any of us have ever met. He set us up in our beautiful accommodations were we quickly passed out from exhaustion.
The next day we awoke to a beautiful breakfast of fresh fruit, fresh juice, omelets, toast, and tea with Ugandan mint leaves. It is hard to describe how we felt sitting outside eating this luxurious meal, surrounded by lush trees and flowers, with tens of species of birds chirping in the background and the sun warming our backs. Any anxieties we had were quickly soothed by this peaceful scene, and for that we were grateful.
That day and the one that followed were a blur of logistics. R drove us to the bank to take out Ugandan shillings (1 dollar Canadian = roughly 2500 shillings), to the mall to get cell phones, modems for the internet, mosquito nets, and helmets so that we can safely ride boda bodas (or motorcycles), which are the city’s fastest and cheapest form of transport. We also went to the head office for Food Rights Alliance where myself and Jeremy, one of the other interns, will be working starting on Monday. There we met our boss – a confident lady with brightly coloured nails – who graciously welcomed us to her organization and explained some logistics of our first few days. From there we went to three different apartments, one of which we will move into tomorrow (stay tuned!). Needless to say it was a hectic two days, in contrast to the Ugandan way which I get the impression is much more laid back (upon hearing how much we’d done yesterday E threw up his hands in surprise). So to unwind from our 48 hours of logistics, last night we went to a wonderful three hour dance performance featuring dances from all over East Africa. There was drumming, singing, and some of the most athletic dancing I have ever seen. Upon hearing we were from Canada, the host also told a story about his dance troop arriving in Halifax for a performance in January and experiencing snow for the first time, with very comedic results. My thought was that it is amazing how you can be in Uganda, and within two days meet people who have been to your small coastal city halfway across the world. That’s globalization for you.
As for today’s activities, our jet lag and our busy schedule caught up to us, so we decided to take things at a slower pace. We started the day around noon by driving to a nearby resort to catch a glimpse of Lake Victoria. It is one of the Great Lakes in the region, and it feeds into the Nile. You can also take a boat from Kampala and cross the lake to Tanzania or Kenya – two trips that I hope to make sometime in the next three months. From there we drove to Gabba Beach, which provided a stark contrast to the resort. While the latter caters to diplomats, expats, and heads of state, Gabba Beach is a bustling local market and fishing village. Where the resort had been quiet and well maintained, the market was noisy and in a general state of disarray. The resort had been picturesque and felt out of context, but the market was messy and authentic. Although we blended in at the resort, Shelby, Jeremy and I much preferred the market. It was one of the many examples of the discrepancy between rich and poor here in this country, which I will talk about in a different post.
Although there are many other anecdotes from our first three days here that I can tell, I’ll leave it for now and get some rest before our busy move in day tomorrow. Until next time!