Daily Archives: August 26, 2009

13 days in Kampala.

3limes is very sorry that we have not been out and about as much as blog writing requires.

I have been tucked away in my classroom trying to figure out what to teach these young’ns when they came traipsing through my door next week. It is a challenge and one that sees me scratching my head and trying to remember what an auxiliary verb is. Yes, I will be teaching grammar. It is the stuff of nightmares.

This past weekend I did manage to leave the books and the country club and move into our new home. It is not the luxurious pad that Trinidad was but it is home and in time and with some careful shopping will be very cozy. I am as happy as a lamb to be unpacked and in a new bed that I can call my own. Trooper and Princess are installed in their bunk bed and seem very happy.

We spent all day Sunday in the shops buying supplies, including boring things like rubbish bins and exciting things like lamps and shades to cover those awful naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The hunt for pretty things had us in and out of shops most of the day and I am most impressed with the selection on offer. I had no idea what to expect, but I was leaning more towards the paltry shelves and sad shops scenario. It has been a pleasant surprise. There I was frantically stocking up on deodorant and toothpaste and now I find pretty much anything one would need.  ( Maybe not want, but need.) Yes the shoes are grim and there are no clothes stores to write home about but there is an excellent book shop, plenty of appliances and house wares and lots of deodorant. So here, then, in a nut shell are my first impressions as we hit day 13.

The juxtaposition of wealth and poverty is shocking. Right next to a shiny mall are mud huts with people cooking over charcoal.

There isn’t a huge choice in furniture but there are things available, many things are cheap and anything can be made.

The supermarkets are really well stocked. I have found Nutella, Lindt and feta so I lost those bets.

The city is extremely dusty. Red dust appears all over the floors, the cars and my face all the time.

There are more cars than can fit on the roads. A traffic jam here is amusing. It is literally a jam, with two lanes of cars turning into 8. Everybody thinks there is a way out and no one waits in a line.

There is a brand new highway (with fresh paved concrete, quite the rarity here) that is not “officially” open but enables my drive to work to take 5 rather than 15 minutes. Some entrepreneurs have decided on a system. They sit at the entrance and exit to the highway holding large pieces of wood stabbed with spiky nails flat against the ground. Once the driver drops 500 shillings (25 cents) onto the concrete, the sharp and spiky wood is pulled aside.

The Boda Boda ride is thrilling, cheap and dangerous. I am not a huge fan. They weave around trucks, buses and SUV’s with some skill but I hear the hospitals are full of people with Boda Broken Arms.

Kampala is more expensive than I imagined. Food, all imported items and even private hire taxis (as an alternative to the Boda) are pricey. There is a cinema here (the only one in Uganda) with three screens and it costs $6 to see a film.

There are some decent restaurants here. We seem to have joined a Friday-Thai-night-out sort of club. The Indian food is also very good. One of the biggest malls has a food court but it is not a food court like in the West. As you peruse the restaurants on offer waiters approach with menus. You select what you want from them and then sit down. The waiters bring it to you. This is an example of cheap and plentiful labour. It is really only fast food in that you walk quite quickly past the places you don’t want to eat.

People living on or near the streets wear quite an amusing selection of western clothes. I know that once upon a time they were worn by some kid in Toronto and when too small were dispatched to the nearest charity shop. Now I know where those clothes go. I saw a great Vermont t-shirt, complete with a moose on a little girl yesterday.

There is a growing middle class here. The other day I saw a great lady, sitting proudly side-saddle on her Boda with a fabulous pair of high heeled patent red boots. Quite the sight.

Bicycles are for at least two people.


Filed under Family Stuff, observations, personal, Uganda