Monday, September 15, 2008
Trucks, friends, and country clubs
On Saturday afternoon my friend Nick, who just started Peace Corps, and his friend came by on their way through the city. We hung out for a while at the house, letting the dirty peace corps kids get in a hot shower and some faster internet. We threw around the football for a while and then departed on my great adventure for the day. My country director left one of our organization trucks for me to drive if I could get acquainted with the roads here. Since Uganda is a former British colony they drive on the left side of the road. Normally that wouldn’t be that big of a deal but in Uganda they don’t have many if any stop signs and traffic lights so it’s really just a big game of merge. Right hand turns (cross traffic here) therefore scare the crap out of me. To add to the challenge the truck is a manual, meaning I have to shift with my left hand. It’s all very awkward.
Nick and I headed out for a few laps on quiet streets and then ventured out to the supermarket or as he called it, muzungumart (muzungu means white people and you get it shouted at you everywhere you go). After stocking up on some basic fruits, veggies, and yogurt we headed out to my favorite Kampala Indian restaurant, Kahna Kahzana. It is a truly bizarre place. Owned by Indians, fabulous food, servers are all Ugandan…in Indian clothing. It is a confusing sight. A friend of a friend who is living here joined us for dinner and we ate far too much for our own good and then headed back to the house to watch a movie and catch up.
Nick and his friend took off Sunday morning to get back to their sites and I did some reading since the power was out when we woke up. Later in the afternoon I headed to the Kabira country club with a friend to get in a lift and some laps in the very nice outdoor pool. The place is a completely different world. It is always jarring to see the juxtaposition of the extreme poor in developing countries with the affluence of foreign expats. If you saw only the neighborhood I’m staying in you would have a very rosey view of the reality of most Ugandans. I have electricity, running water, internet, cable, a yard, and a gate. All things one would take for granted in the US, but rarities in a country with high unemployment, 50% of the budget subsidized by foreign aid, and an ever growing divide between rich and poor. You may now call me Debbie downer