Uganda Day 3: Finally Went Exploring
Good news everyone...I finally managed to leave my apartment! What a relief, after being cooped up in here for three days.
My plan when I got out of bed this morning was to get ready and go, wasting no more time. Unfortunately a thunderstorm decided to appear—which I saw on my weather app but hoped would pass me by—so I was grounded for a little while longer. Then as I walked out my door an hour later I realized it was still raining, despite the sun shining. So I was delayed again. But the moment the sound of the rain stopped I was out that door, this time for real. I pressed that magical button on my remote and the gate opened, and I was free.
The first thing I did was walk up to the main road and hit an ATM. Things cost money, unfortunately. Oddly enough, my receipt said my remaining balance was almost 400 million shillings, which translates to about $150,000 Canadian. So I'm kinda hoping I somehow won the lottery and didn't know it.
Money in hand, I walked up the main road to a café called La Patisserie, which was recommended by one of the former interns from last year. It's back from the road a little bit, and there is a lovely little patio and—most importantly—there's coffee. Actual coffee. I saw an espresso machine behind the counter. I ordered a latte and, seeing as it was close to lunch time, a chocolate croissant. After eating toast and pasta for three days, it was magical. I did a little bit of reading on the patio. I also got very excited when I heard there was wifi—my data plan on my phone is my sole source of internet, which is expensive, so I'm looking for anything to lighten the load—but a very small app was taking so long to load that I actually gave up and left. I'm talking dial-up speeds here. A minor flaw, but I can tell I'm going to be spending a lot of time here. It's actually right at the corner where I come out onto the main road, walking from home—less than ten minutes! Hallelujah.
Caffeinated and croissant-enated, it was time to hit the road again and check the next thing off my to-do list: groceries. A little ways down the street there is a supermarket—not a large or glamorous place by any stretch, but better than the catch-all convenience store I was taken to the day I arrived. I couldn't find everything I was looking for, but enough that I can actually eat something other than toast or pasta. I was hoping to get chicken or something, but they didn't have any meat, so I'll have to try a different place for that. I did buy some eggs, though, which I'm a little wary about eating. They don't refrigerate them here, and there's no date on the carton, but I figure a supermarket probably has good turnaround and/or rotation. I guess we'll see.
I came home to put away my groceries and rest a bit. It seems to be that my place is at the top of a hill, and everything I need to get to is further down the hill. Which is fine and lovely when you're walking away from home, but gruelling on the way back. It was 99% humidity today. Gross.
After cooling down for a while, I left again (what freedom!) to map out and time the route to the place where I'm working. Again: easy on the way down, sweaty on the way back. Luckily, it's only ten minutes from home. Walking back, I decided to do a little bit more exploring and made my way back up to the main road. I chose a direction and walked for a bit, just to see what was there, then turned around and came home, once again feeling gross. This photo is on Instagram, but it's the only one I've got, so here it is again—the view from the main road:
Later on, I took an unexpected trip out to see my fellow intern from Osgoode, who had arrived very early this morning. She's living relatively far away in another part of town, so I found myself getting on my second boda. I'm sure the ride couldn't have been longer than ten or fifteen minutes, but it truly felt like an hour. Finally, we arrived at the mall next to where Aliana (my coworker) is staying.
This mall was nothing like the stuff I have near me. It's clean and relaxed, and there are actual names I recognize, and stores that look like the ones at home. We met at Pizza Hut. Not that I like Pizza Hut, but hey, it helps when you're homesick. I wasn't planning on eating dinner there, but after sorting out Aliana's phone, we met up with our soon-to-be supervisor, who was eating at none other than Pizza Hut. So I ate pizza.
By the time I was leaving, it was getting dark already. I'm not keen on taking a boda at the best of times. Instead of flagging one down, I decided to try an app called SafeBoda, which was been called "the Uber of bodas". These drivers are trained on safety and traffic rules (not that they necessarily follow them), and they always provide a helmet for the passenger. I was mostly interested in the helmet. I didn't fear for my life as much as I had on my other boda rides, and made it home safely.
Now I need to shower and get ready for tomorrow. I'm equal parts excited and nervous about starting work. On the one hand, it's the whole reason I'm here and generally very interesting, valuable experience. On the other, it seems like some parts of it are going to be quite challenging. Still, I am looking forward to it. It will be nice to have some structure and routine again.
That's it for today. I have a feeling that, starting tomorrow, I won't be writing blogs every single day. It was never actually my intention to begin with, but that's what happens when you spend three days stuck inside. I'll do my best to keep it as updated as possible though!