The Home Stretch through Uganda

My first Ugandan lunch for nearly a month

Miles beyond Busia, over the border from Kenya and back into Uganda, they still say “Jambo!” in greeting. They still say “Asante Sana” in thanks, and they still count currency in Kiswahili. This makes it tough to shift gears back into the Lugandan language after having been in Kiswahili mode for so long.

But most things are Ugandan again. Plantains are steamed and mashed into matoke, the belly-filling staple food available at any roadside restaurant. The plantations where those fruits come from line the gently rising and falling roadways, and the white minivans with a blue checkered stripe zoom past my rattling bicycle at great speed, taking commuters to the next towns. Continue reading

On Into Kenya

It was hard to leave Tanzania, due to the great ties I made but also due to sickness and poor weather. I met many kind people there who helped me out when I ran out of money and contracted a vicious infection of my gastrointestinal tract, and just when I thought I was close to crossing into Kenya, I was beaten down by the weather. Continue reading

Across to Tee Zed

 

At the bus station in Muleba, TZ

I knew I was close to Tanzania when a woman strolling along the road balancing a bundle of firewood atop her head made her reply to my formulaic greeting.

“Jebaale, nyabo!” I said in Lugandan to the lady, much as I had for the past fifty miles. Jebaale is used as a greeting, but literally means ‘good work’. I said it to her because I thought she actually deserved it.

“Jambo!” she replied, smiling. I recognized her Swahili greeting and rejoiced. The border town of Mutukula must be close now, though I continued my Lugandan outbursts as I whirred by. Continue reading

On Fund Raising

The system works!

I hate asking people for things, normally. I’d rather sleep out in the cold than knock on a stranger’s door, unless I was seriously concerned about my survival. My diet, when I’m in a financial bind, consists of what’s both cheapest and most nutritionally wholesome: fruit, seeds, nuts. And the very last thing I’d ever ask anyone for is money; I feel I ought to be able to earn what I need. Maybe I’m proud, maybe I’m stubborn, but I only wish to sustain myself in contentedness.

Recently I’ve had to change this mentality somewhat. Working with this community-based organization, PMK Save the Future Generation – Uganda, I’ve learned that one must ask for help in order to receive it. By trying to raise money for my circumnavigation of Lake Victoria, and the subsequent funding of a new community banking program for the organization, I’ve achieved a new level of humility by sending emails to friends, companies, organizations, and family asking for contributions. Continue reading

At Home with some Ugandans

On a Ugandan Porch

My time in Uganda has been a lesson in kindness. While Uganda’s general public may not be so outwardly friendly to the traveler (normally gawking and squawking, ignoring, or asking for handouts) the people can be genuinely pleasant once friendships are made. What follows is a description of my happiest homestays while in this African heartland. Continue reading

Ring Around Victoria

So I’ve got this idea in my head and I can’t make it go away. It just means I’ll have to follow through.

I am going to ride a bicycle around Lake Victoria. I have been thinking about it since I first saw the lake flying into Entebbe Airport. I miss bicycles, and all the dirt roads in this country are begging to be ridden by clunking steel bikes which are found all over the place. I’m gonna get me one of those super-solid stallions and schlepp it through three countries and around the world’s third largest lake. Continue reading

Uganda Museum: A Nation in Miniature

Uganda Museum in Kampala

I passed the sign and through the gates one hot afternoon in Kampala, unsure whether a museum visit would suit my sour mood. As I hesitated on the grounds outside the big white building, an assault rifle-toting policeman in blue camouflage called to me. “Welcome to the Uganda Museum!” I was persuaded, and after I negotiated a student discount, I was allowed entry for 2000 UGX, about eighty cents.

I began my tour with the toilets, which I found to be in incredibly good shape, and among the offerings within were ample toilet paper and soap. Continue reading

Back in Kampala

Arriving in Kampala, I met my new host in a popular fried chicken joint in town. Lucky Peter took me from town to the Kazo ward, a poverty stricken pseudo-district north of the city. Bobbing and dodging clotheslines strung up across a labyrinth of narrow alleys, and stepping mistakenly into the thick layers of vile mud which line the bigger streets, we eventually made it to the home of Father Godfrey, where I have been staying for nearly two weeks. The ward somehow feels like home already; by now I am navigating the dusty lanes with impunity, and the novelty of having a white guy in the neighborhood is starting to wear off. Continue reading

Popularity of Humanitarian Services in Uganda

With a recent history of violence and desperation, and being the more stable of many surrounding countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan), Uganda has become an epicenter of  humanitarian aid with waves of helpful people spreading throughout eastern Africa. Continue reading

The Road to Uganda, and What I Will Do Now

One man band, man

It took six airplanes to fly east from Fiji to Uganda: LA, Denver, Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Kigali, Entebbe. Fortunately it worked out that I could stop through home and say hello to my lovely parents and swap out some gear. I don’t expect I will be needing any diving fins ’round here.

Leaving Denver, I was held up at security by a friendly TSA inspector guy. He was fixated on my ukelele and harmonicas, and some toy cars I brought for African kids.

“Are you some kind of one man band or something?”

“Basically.” Continue reading