Monday October 15
Trenching for the foundation for the new kitchen started today. Irene asked me to postpone start of my class one more day because there was no school last Friday because of the Muslim Eidd holiday, the Muslim holiday, and there were some tests to make up. So I went into Kampala to buy a camera to replace the one that I had pick-pocketed last week. Prices were not as cheap as I had hoped. I settled for a canon not-quite-as-good as the one I lost, for a little more than that first one cost. All the camera shops are run by indians who have returned despite the mass expulsions in the 1970’s by Idi Amin.
I spent a leisurely couple hours at the Pap Café, a homey espresso and internet café near on Parliament street that is frequented by sharply dressed Uganda business types and scruffy white foreigners like me. Not many Americans. Germans, Scands. And Italians. Some brits. But very pleasant to sit and read the papers, catch up on e-mail, glance at CNN and the NY times just to make sure I’m not missing anything.
The government is making a big deal about the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that will take place in Uganda in November…sprucing up the downtown area, replacing eroded sidewalks, painting curbs etc. Sort of a Potemkin village effect…and I’m sure most of the foreigners won’t see beyond the painted curbs. They’ll be whisked around in Limos, and spend most of their time at some national park resort.
Bought some blank CDs to back up my photo files. Sunday I walked out Hoima road away from Nansana and got into a slightly more rural neighborhood, rolling hilly countryside with wide undeveloped areas, and red-roofed houses dotting the hillsides. Here and there you’d see solar panels for electricity …that’s what we want to get at Kisa school also. It’s a $10,000 project. I’ll be sending out a fundraising letter to my e-mail address in a few days…just as soon as we get the broad band set up here at the school. As soon as that happens, I’ll start blogging too and posting photos.
I walked about 5 miles Sunday afternoon. Walking is about the most exercise I get. I still think about getting a bicycle, but the traffic is terrifying on Hoima road, and the side roads …every one I’ve seen so far…are badly rutted and eroded…so no burke gilman trail here. Bikes are beasts of burden in Uganda. Recreational bike riding or any kind of pointless-but-good-for-you-and-fun-too exercise seems like a concept from another planet.
Somewhere around half the people I encounter in my walks around the neighborhood will engage me in a friendly way, exchange greetings. They love it when I greet them in Luganda. Many people want to talk to me…especially the kids. Out walking Sunday I had two separate conversations with 18-20 year olds who wanted to talk about America and practice their English with a native speaker. One guy kept asking me about what sounded like soresn-nigger…turned out he was enamored of the governor of California. “I want to get to America…can you help me get to America? Have you ever met Bill Gates? Have you ever met Mike Tyson? What’s the best career? What’s the best way to get rich?”