Thursday, March 19, 2009

I don't know if you heard, but Africa is pretty hot

First day in Kampala is done. It was a little intense. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I don’t think it was this.

It’s not so much that I wasn’t ready for it, in a lot of ways I was surprised by how normal it seemed. From a safe distance that is. Out a car window, the stretch of villages really looked strikingly similar to the Domincan Republic. I was all ready to be Mr. Anthropologist and declare that we’re all just the same, really. But then we got into Kampala. Kampala was not just like the Dominican. It was soooo busy; just people people everywhere. That plus the omnipresent boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) (Note the proper use of the vocab) and the fact that they drive on the wrong side of the damn street, makes everything a bit more challenging.

We were met at the airport by our lovely tour guide. She is from Kampala and shows white folk like us how to survive in this country without paying $100 for an unmatched pair of socks. Plus she’s going to show us the “real” Kampala, secret underground clubs and stuff maybe… So far, she’s been the only thing that gave us the confidence to venture outside of our little beds, so anybody coming through Kampala should look her up. I’m making her a website for her tour guide business, so when that happens I might throw up a link.

After we got our ish straightened out and settled at the hotel Red Chili we went and wandered around with our tour guide. We went and got some (I’m told) traditional Ugandan food: posho (like cornbread), mystery meat (smart-ish money says beef), sweet potato, motoke (mashed plantain), rice, and ground-nut sauce. Preeeetty, preeeeeeetty, pretty good. I’m still kickin around several hours and one meal later, so at least so far everything’s coming up spades in terms of the old roulette wheel of chance. Oh and there was some coleslaw too, but I only ate like half a shred of that. Easing into that cold bath.

So then we walked around Kampala and took some taxis. It was really crowded and the weird experience of walking in the dirt in the middle of the city. The taxi’s are interesting: Up to 15 people crammed into a van, picking up more as the trip goes along. One guy drives and guy number two leans out the window to recruit passengers. I think they’re more like busses than taxis (as in fixed route), but for all I know they could be space ships.

BTW we dropped 30,000 shillings today, like it weren’t nothing. We ball like that. Pat has a 50,000 many 50,000 dollarbills in his wallet. Don’t try to do the foreign exchange math in your head, just trust me: ballin outa control. Double BTW, dropping a G for a bottle of water is a strange little can of worms.

Tomorrow we start to meet with people from the business school here in Kampala. That will be fascinating. Stoves are neat, but I’m all about the paper (currency) if you feel me (understand the concepts to which I refer). On a tangentially related note, they speak English here. Sort of. Every sign is written in English, and the radio is in English, but I’m pretty sure that of all the languages I overheard being spoken today, English was among the less common. I’m on a streak of tangents here, so bear with me (this is the rambling that anyone who emails with me a lot knows about). The ads and billboards are awesome from the perspective of a Marketing 101 near drop out. They’re utterly clear and uncomplicated, and they pull no punches.

“Thirsty? Try refreshing Club Beer. You’ll be glad you did.” “Enjoy the clean taste of Something Brand vegetable oil.” “The vitamins and fats in X brand ice yogurt help kids grow strong.”

Nobody’s trying to trick you with double entendres or naked chicks, its just straight up: action verb, product name, and why. It almost makes me think that those who practice marketing aren’t all soulless monsters (just kidding (not really) ).


Pics are going to be a thing of the past for a while, the internet is slow like that of my parents house circa childhood. And that was slow. They lived in the country. Or, bush, as it’s called in other parts of the world.

Impression of Africa on day one: hot, crowded and intense, confusing currencies, shades of green like I’ve only seen in a box of crayons.

And finally: thanks to our Italian hosts. We learned a lot, we enjoyed our time in your country, we apologize again for putting you on blast all over the internets. We’ll see where things end up in the future.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are so awesome. I hope that the internet connection can continue as your updates are inspiring!

    ReplyDelete