Everything is well in Kampala after about three weeks. Zach has outlined the nature of our work, so I’m going to go ahead and chronicle some of the more unusual (in my mind) occurrences witnessed in the recent past. For me, our trip to the zoo qualifies since many of the featured animals I had never seen in my US zoo-deprived childhood. George, Zach, and I embarked on the aptly-named Forest Walk within the zoo, which was comprised of lots of large spiders, huge hoards of red ants, and eventually an accidental exit of the zoo’s grounds via exploration of several unkempt trails. Nonetheless, the zoo was a great experience overall. Other things I didn’t necessarily anticipate are as follows:
Animals everywhere – from cows holding up traffic to chickens wandering into houses, stray dogs and cats left and right, animals do just about whatever they please here. Also, in certain areas such as near the zoo and in the woods by Katosi there are these small cool-looking monkeys all over the place.
Traffic – terrible traffic jams, horrendously built dirt roads, and near-accidents are the norm here. Observed a few minor collisions, usually involving boda bodas in the congested city streets.
People swimming down rocky rapids of the Nile for money – self-explanatory
Some cultural oddities – On a trip to a very rural area to meet with a potential partner for KWDT, Zach, George and myself were treated to chairs while the women (who played such an exponentially more important role in the meeting it was laughable) including the hostesses of the home, sat on some mats on the floor. We were told that among their cultural practices was the idea that men must always be above women. Furthermore, the gathering was conducted outside and another woman who appeared to be listening sat in the dirt off in the distance. When we inquired about this later, George explained that the lady was the mother of the woman who lived there, and was not allowed on the property, although the mother of the husband would be welcomed any time. This discovery baffled me for quite some time. Imagine if one of your grandmother’s was greeted into your family’s home with open arms while the other could not set foot in your yard.
Rollerblades – did not see this one coming. On three occasions I’ve seen people on rollerblades, which is pretty much a death wish on any street in Uganda. One was clutching the back of a motorcycle moving at a decent clip, one was holding on to the back of a slow-moving truck, and one was cruising down a crowded street alone at night, which I think is a fabulous idea.
Overall, I am having a great time. Our host family is great, work is picking up, and we are all excited for our safari this weekend. Couldn’t ask for any more from the experience thus far.