Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reflecting back

I spent time on the airplane today reflecting back on my past two weeks. I had tried to write in my journal regularly, had done a lot of writing on the computer, but it seems that it just didn't happen the way I thought it should.

So, today I starting putting down my observations on various subjects such as education, infrastructure such as water, power, waste management, etc and have pages going on with my thoughts. I plan to print out some of my pictures to illustrate what I am talking about.

But, for now, I am going to start sharing pictures from the trip.

This is a picture which includes Fr. Rob, Rachelle, Briana, Alicia, and Laura, in front of the hotel where we stayed for the first two nights in Kampala. Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is the largest city there. It teems with life, smells, noises, sights, and textures.

Taxis operate in a different way from what we are used to in Uganda. These vans are everywhere and are licensed to seat 14 although we had 21 in ours one day. To see one filled with people and goods that they are transporting hanging out the back end is quite a site. The taxis dart in and out. The driver is on the right side since they drive on the left. Just behind the front passenger seat is the person who rounds up fares. People check to see which taxi is going where and if where they want to go is on the way, they negotiate their price and hop on. They actually become mini buses and are a very reasonable way of getting around.

Much cheaper transportation is on a boda boda, or motocycle. These small engine machines have a cushion on the back and will take one passenger and sometimes two to where ever they want to go. They are also used for transporting goods, like something you might have ordered. I have seen them with women sitting neatly on the back with their legs on one side, nicely dressed, keeping balanced, while the boda boda winds its way through tight traffic.

I saw some traffic lights but it didn't seem like anyone paid attention to them. Roundabouts are far more hazzardous in Uganda than in England. People just cram on in. Large buses, taxis, private cars, boda bodas, bicycles which are similarly for hire, and people on foot. Pedestrians absolutely do not have the right of way.

The taxis maneauer in and out of the traffic, with the driver watching one side while his fare taker watches the other side. Many times people, bus, taxi and boda boda all come within a couple of inches of each other. At first this was really frightening but as we left we realized it was just the way it was. Only sometimes did we shut our eyes to what we thought might be a terrible accident which didn't happen.

On the drive to Fort Portal from Kampala, we stopped at this outdoor market. Under the tent are lots of people roasting things like bananas, chicken on sticks, goat on sticks, etc. The bus (another form of transportation) will pull up and the sellers run to the bus with their baskets of wares including bottled water, drinks and the roasted food. People lean out of the bus windows to buy what they want.

Sunrise House now has a guest house and we were the first to use it. We purchased the beds, linens, some kitchen supplies, etc to help get things together for use....especially so we could sleep there.
This is a picture looking out from the front yard through the garden and across the way to the hill which has homes and more small farms.

The house is surrounded by banana trees. We had banana at least three different ways every day. My husband had bananas here at home waiting for me but I am passing on them for a little while. When the banana stalk is harvested, the leaves and trunk are cut down, chopped up, and left in the field to return to the ground. New sprouts come up and continue growing.

Shops abound in Fort Portal. Many of the shops are very small, all open on to the street and business will flow in to the street also.

We were the talk of the neighborhood...everyone would watch the white people coming and going, but most of all the children. They would initially creep around the house to look at us and we would wave and they became bolder. We became good friends with many of the neighbor hood children through the use of my art supplies and paper. They would draw for an hour on the front porch.

Sometimes the children would call out "amerika" "amerika" to try to get the girls to come outside. We also had a small soccer ball which was used a lot at the house.

The girls received lessons in the proper way to wash clothes. They washed, and rinsed, and through they were done until Grace, the 20 year old who was cooking for us, told them they needed to do it again...two times in all for the clothes to get clean. Clothes would be layed over a line or placed on the grass or on bushes to dry.

So much is done with manual labor. No washing machines.

The kitchen has an electric stove and a stainless steel sink with small drain area and no other furniture. Grace would squat down to mix things in the pots on the floor. There was a small pantry that had a bottom cupboard only and that is where we kept the food and dishes.

We had cereal such as corn flakes and rice krispies for breakfast and Grace would go to the store each day to buy food for our dinner. She ate with us and would explain what she had made. We ate traditional Ugandan food. We could have, however, used a few cuts of meat that had more meat than bone on them but did just fine.


Lora Martin said...

Fascinating. Seems like a wonderful adventure.

Gerrie said...

What an experience!!

Rayna said...

And what an education! Fascinating and I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Doreen K. said...

Wow, Thanks for sharing your great trip. I love seeing other parts of the world. I don't think I could handle the flying and waiting times.