Monday, June 27, 2011

East Africa Day 43 (Sat June 25): Kampala, the Capital of Uganda

Woke up this AM, had breakfast, checked out, and walked to the edge of the road to catch a matatu headed towards Mbale. It was a small car, so we figured that we’d be the only passengers. Nope – I twas a matatu – just a small one! We met an interesting Ugandan while crammed four people into the back seat, who talked with us about Michelle Obama’s recent visit to Africa. I’d read about it in the Youth E-Newsletter that I get from the White House – it was interesting to hear his thoughts about it. Mostly that Michelle was in Africa to uplift women, but what about the boys? The matatu fortunately didn’t drop us in the small town where we’d been dropped on Thursday, and took us all the way to Mbale. We returned to the nautical-inspired restaurant for a small bite (again, really to use the bathroom) and then we found the Mbale post office, and caught the Post Bus headed towards Jinja. From there it was another really pleasant ride back into town. I decided that I will visit anywhere in Uganda that is serviced by the Post Bus:) It cost 8,000 UGX to Mbale and 10,000 UGX back to Jinja.

We caught bodas back to Meghan’s house from the Jinja post office, and I re-packed my stuff. Snapped this photo of Meghan in front of the wall of photos of previous Light Gives Heat volunteers. Meghan’s photo will be added to the wall when she leaves Uganda in seven weeks.

I took a boda back to Backpackers, but when I got there I found that the hostel was full. Fortunately I was able to catch the hostel’s shuttle to Kamapala. I rode on an airport-shuttle style bus with a British Gap Year student who was en-route to Rwanda to see the gorillas. She had been volunteering in Arusha, Tanzania, and had taken a 28 hour-ish Kampala Coach bus ride from Dar es Salaam to Uganda. She told me about Ujamaa Hostel in Arusha, where she was living while volunteering. The hostel coordinates long-term volunteer placements, and most of the hostel guests are volunteers. The hostel was founded by a Tanzanian man and his Australian wife, who had come to Tanzania to volunteer and was frustrated by the high prices that coordinating groups charge would-be volunteers for placements. We stopped at t gas station and picked up two guys who had just finished a day of white water rafting. One guy was from Switzerland and had just finished a six month volunteer placement in Ethiopia. He was teaching computers at a religiously affiliated school. I didn’t meet the second guy on our bus.

I was dropped off at Nakumatt in Kampala, and then took a boda to the Makerere University campus main gates. Walked through campus to the apartment occupied by fellow Pace Environmental Law Alum, Elaine Hsaio. Elaine is here on a Fulbright, and has been put up in a really nice, furnished two bedroom apartment. I arrived at night so I didn’t see much of Kampala, but from what I did see, it seemed like a very bustling city. I am so happy to be staying with Elaine, who I only just met in person tonight when I knocked on her door. We had a great talk, and then I was fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow:)

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