Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday 5pm Garden City Mall Internet Cafe

The internet has come back up and I only have a few mins to write this so please excuse spelling mistakes!

Nearing the end of my week in Kampala and my first days in Uganda looking out across this 5 month trip. It's a busy week but near the end most jobs were done and I was able to slow down and move at Ugandan speed. But actually what is Ugandan speed? It's more Ugandan flow. One minute it's fast fast on the straight jam-free roads then slow slow in the middle of a city jam. When it comes to arranging a day, there are few fixed times but somehow everything is fitted in and goes smoothly without much stress. Like the traffic, everyone glides in and out of their schedules and makes enough room for others without slowing themselves down. Very few are really pushing solely their own agenda but all are moving forward in a good speed (most of the time). It's an amazingly self-organising co-operative yet fast mode of operation. Maybe these Game Theorists should forget some of their old Western assumptions and come model Kampala traffic.

Enough of the maths, the basics of the week have been: heat, reunions, shopping and transport.

  • Heat - 28/29 degrees Centigrade average over the last week, some rain but it's refreshing!
  • Reunions - staying with Gloria and her lovely sisters has been great including meeting Gloria's colleagues at the HIV/AIDs treatment clinic at Mulago Hospital and also last night I stayed with Patrick (Tall Controller from Newsletter 4 - see and his wife Eva. It's great to be able to say hello without having to say goodbye straightaway. There is already talks of what to do in Easter and of helping out visitors who need picking from the airport etc.
  • Shopping - all cash, no cards - I'm really having to watch what I spend. But I've managed to get some supplies like hair conditioner to give me some 'luxuries' when I get down to Rukungiri. Also, for those who took part in the 'Hunt the Colostomy Bag Game' that I was playing before i left - the good news is I found them here eventually! They were 40p each! So much for Boots of Hitchin who wanted to charge me 40quid but then wouldn't let me have anything without a prescription. There are two children under 4 who are going to be a bit more comfortable now!
  • Transport - I've been catching a ride with Gloria from Ntinda suburb into her work and then 40p boddaboddas (motorbikes with back seats but no helmets!) or 20p matatus (minibus taxis) or just plain walking. I got a map but this is very strange for the locals - they just 'know' where things are.

One of the best things that works really well and is actually cheaper than UK is mobile phones. So my Uganda number is now: 00 256 783 101 586 (this includes UK int. dialing (00) and Uganda no. 256) If you want to call then please do it would be nice to hear from you! Please remember that I'm GMT+3hrs and UK is GMT until end of March then GMT+1. International phone cards from PO are v good at approx 10p per min.

Random people I've met this week: someone who works with the Minister for Gender, a couple of US volunteers working with one of the main newspapers Daily Monitor, lovely people from Africare (another community development NGO) and whilst helping out Ellie from Community Links I've met her friends who actually used to teach with my uncle in Kettering - it's a small small world!

Words learnt: (all Lugandan this week) Kale (karley) = OK; Ggabale (jaybarlay) = Hello; and if some one is looking good then you say they are 'sharp, sharp'.

The week coming: Travel to Rukungiri tomorrow in the Project's ambulance with Warren (although he's still on his way to Kampala and fixing a tyre). It's a 7hr journey in heat but let's hope we see some zebras!

Hope you're all well - I hear the snow is still coming down! I recommend going to a sauna! Warming up is good for the soul. Or just keep each other warm!!

So in general all is well and I am just feeling like I am in the right place at the right time.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

And she's off...

Just checked in online. Wow. And I'm ready to swop snow for red dust and chocolate for pineapples. Must dash but keep watching for the first Uganda instalment. Thanks everyone who's been driving me round this week and to all who helped me move out of London and into my brother's shed. And thanks to Lily for making me feel at home with 'B, puzzle, B? puzzle. B? B!!! puzzle!!!' 'yes Lily anything you say, gorgeous!'