Friday, November 24, 2006

A time for Complaints, and a time to give Thanks.

The reason for choosing the overnight bus to Kampala was simple. A flight cost about $150 and the bus cost $35. About half hour into our trip we realized why. A) No bathroom on the bus. This did not even occur to me as a possibility. Obviously, it is impossible to make a twelve hour bus ride without a bathroom aboard. If that statement rang true to you, then you have not been to Africa before. There were a few "rest stops" along the side of the road, but no guarantee that anybody was waiting for you to get back onboard. I solved this dilemma by consuming nothing for the entire trip. B) The road to Kampala from Nairobi consists entirely of speed bumps and potholes alternating to create a delightful pattern of bumps and pits. The idea was that while we were sleeping we would magically be whisked into Uganda and awake in Kampala as the sun was rising as gentle harp music helped us greet the dawn. We were certainly awake when we arrived in Kampala, but we were not awoken as we had never even closed an eye. C) Throughout the entire journey, we were treated to the sounds of ten year old pop songs creatively re-interpreted as reggae tunes. (My personal favorite was "How do I live without you?" originally sung by LeAnn Rimes and now co-existing with a cool Afro-Caribbean beat. Want to know why you can't really imagine that? Because it probably shouldn't exist, and more importantly, no human being should be forced to endure it once an hour on the hour for twelve hours in a row.) So we learned our lesson. Twelve hour bus trips should be avoided at all costs. Shorter day trips may be acceptable, but on a strictly as needed basis.

Looking back on our trip now, I feel that Kampala has been a great great success. We were able to meet and chat with a lot of really fascinating people who are deeply committed to solving the problem of Malaria in Uganda (although of course, the debate on how best to do it remains heated, to say the least.) We attended a public hearing about the DDT question here in Uganda and met a lot of other good contacts (everyone knows one another in the Malaria world it seems) and collected some great footage.

We also trekked to Bujagali Falls and had a fabulous and bizarre international Thanksgiving. There was deep fried turkey and killer mashed potatoes and even pumpkin pie, but also Peruvian chicken and homemade salsa, chicken curry with rice and brown gravy, baked chocolate pudding and a huge bowl of pineapple, mango and watermelon, plus a lot of Tusker and Nile beers. We went to a big house in a little town in the middle of nowhere Uganda. The only mzungus (white people) around there are visiting to raft or kayak on the Nile and this rowdy bunch of people are the ones who help them do it safely. They were a very cool bunch of people. There were lots of dreadlocks, various accents and tanned bicep muscles, taught from spending every day battling the Nile River in their kayaks. They were friendly and so generous to welcome us in to their little community to celebrate a totally American holiday. We felt at home even far away from home and I felt thankful for the way this trip has been full of great surprises and beautiful moments already, only two weeks in. We went to sleep in our Banda hut with the noises of the jungle all around us and we woke up to see the Nile foaming in the damp morning and I felt profoundly grateful for the adventure I am sharing with two wonderful friends.

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