Saturday, May 24, 2008

First days in Uganda

Arriving at Entebbe Airport I was stiff from 17+ hours of air travel, sleep-deprived and nursing a throat and sinus issue that had conveniently started the night before I left Wisconsin. Even with all this and the fact that it was pitch black out when I landed, I could tell that I was going to like Uganda.

My luggage thankfully made it through despite two plane transfers in two different countries and my hosts, Harrison and Audrey, graciously picked me up and the airport. They welcomed me like old friends and as I stepped out of the airport the warm, humid air seemed familiar, even though I have never been here before.

On the ride home there was some swerving in and out of traffic – something I got used to in Senegal. I was probably slightly more nervous because I was sitting in the seat that I normally think of as the driver’s; fortunately the steering wheel was on Harrison’s side. The driveway leading to Harrison and Audrey’s apartment is possibly the steepest I have ever seen, it was even difficult for me to negotiate on foot, both up and down the following day. That night I gulped down some fresh passion fruit juice thanks to Audrey and got to bed to try to sleep off whatever I had.

In the morning I woke up to a gorgeous view from the balcony. Lush, green hills dotted with red tile roofs and red exposed earth where houses are being built. I could see a couple small banana trees in a neighbor’s yard and down in the valley there were cars on their way to Kampala. Somewhere lower on the hillside there was someone, a shop maybe, that has loud talk radio that can be heard throughout the day.

I took it easy for most of the day, still trying to get better but I did end up walking to the other side of the hill to hit up a bank and go to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a Senegalese meal for my new Ugandan friends. I can already tell that I’m making too many comparisons between Senegal and Uganda, I don’t want to be the kid that moves to a new school but can’t stop talking about her old school. I’ll keep the comparisons to a minimum until I get to know Uganda better, mostly because I’ve learned that first perceptions in a new culture are often wrong.
The first photo is of my host, Harrison on his balcony outside Kampala and the second is of the taxi stop in down town Kampala, on the hill you can see the newly opened mosque, started by Idi Amin, finished by Colonel Kadafi.