Uganda Days 66 & 67: On Bad Luck and Good Reads

The past two days have been curiously tempered with bad luck. Not that they've been awful or anything, just a few unfortunate circumstances, lined up back-to-back by chance. First of all, let me just say that the ant problem is not quite as resolved as I had hoped it was. Yes, they sealed the bit where the wall meets the ceiling, but apparently that's not the only way in—rather obvious in hindsight, but they had been falling so consistently from the same place, I just assumed that was it. But no, they've shifted slightly, still falling. If anything, they've grown louder than they were before. Who knew ants could be so damn noisy? Luckily, it seems as if they're not falling on the bed, at least for the moment, although they are falling uncomfortably close beside it.

I spoke to Ivan, suggesting that perhaps we'd have to spray them after all. I mean seriously spray, like get up on the roof and wreak havoc. At which point he told me he had sprayed up there yesterday—so that's not particularly promising. But I think he's going to try again. Fingers crossed. These falling ants are getting old, fast.

The second bit of bad luck was losing power for most of yesterday evening. The power flickers here all the time, and once or twice in the past it's alternated on-and-off for an extended period, but this was a solid three or four hours straight, no flickering. Of all the unlucky incidents in the past forty-eight hours, this was the least troublesome, I think—just a minor inconvenience, really. For a while I was worried it wouldn't come back at all, but thankfully, the power switched on again with enough time to run the hot water tank for a shower and charge my laptop and phone, both of which had batteries on the brink of death. All in all, this one worked out alright! AND I managed to finish the book I've been reading—the third one I've bought here.

So that's bad luck parts one and two. Part three was waking up and feeling quite ill this morning. I think it was likely some kind of food poisoning from the Indian I'd ordered the night before. It wasn't terrible, but it was enough that I decided not to go into the office, and instead work from home, to the extent that I could.

The fourth and final thing: after making the decision to stay home, I very quickly discovered that I had no running water. Once in a while, I'll lose most of the water pressure, usually when the plumber is here in the compound working on something. But I'd never lost all water completely, for one thing; and two, I had serious doubts that the plumber was already engrossed in some job at 7 in the morning. So once again I stepped outside to speak to Ivan—he's probably started dreading the sight of me, at this point!—and told him about the situation. He had no idea why it had been shut off. He said something about going to check a tank, and then going to some office to get some person to turn the water back on—something along those lines. The point was, he figured it would be resolved today, but he had no idea what time.

So I was faced with a choice, either stay at home all day without any running water, or go somewhere else even though I was feeling ill. I think if I'd felt any worse, I would have been grounded, but it was just mild enough that running water trumped staying at home. I couldn't shower or anything, so I basically just threw on a hat and hopped on a boda.

I stayed most of the day by the mall and its running water. For lunch I got soup, because that's about all I felt like eating. By the afternoon I was already feeling much better, enough that I caved and ordered a coffee. By dinner time, I was pretty much back to normal.

And it was still a surprisingly productive day, all things considered. I spent most of it working on work stuff (despite the fact that the wi-fi wasn't working today—bad luck part four-and-a-half?).

I didn't feel like eating anywhere around the mall, so I decided to walk down the hill and try out a restaurant called Mediterraneo, which I hadn't been to yet. It was pretty good, if a little overpriced, at least by Kampala standards. In the short time I was there I started reading a new book, which I'd earlier picked up at the mall. Ironically, I went for CanLit. First of all, let me just say that there's a surprising number of Canadian authors in the bookstore here. Most of them are big names like Michael Ondaatje and Rohinton Mistry—though to be honest, I never really thought of Rohinton Mistry as having a large international presence—but I went for one by a writer named Emily St. John Mandel. It's called Station Eleven, and I had my eye on it even back home before I left. I tend not to read a ton of CanLit; not because it's bad—in fact, Canada's literary scene is vibrant and enormously talented—but there's usually something about the jacket descriptions that put me off from buying them. I always get this sense that the writer wanted to write a book about a particular town or city—usually town—and created the story as an afterthought. Like they've made a point of including the specific Canadian locale on the jacket, as if it's the sole reason I should be reading it, my duty as a citizen of Canada.

Obviously, that's not the reality of it, but that's what it feels like, and I rarely feel like reading a book about some average, sleepy town in northern Ontario, or whatever the case may be, no matter how much I love my country. But Station Eleven caught my eye. It's set in Toronto—and when I read as much on the back of the book, the very first thing in the synopsis, I nearly stopped then and there. But it's about some kind of apocalyptic virus, à la Outbreak (or more recently, and less remarkably, Contagion), and a character who apparently performs in a travelling Shakespearean troupe, and I was sold. Far more interesting than reading about absurdly 'typical' Canadians living in a Tim Horton's commercial in some obscure Canadian town. I'm sure those are wonderful, but I'll stick with the apocalypse for now, thank you very much.

Alright, I'm sure all the non-readers have long since succumbed to a blasé indifference, so I apologize for that. I'll wrap it up. Where was I? Dinner, reading at the restaurant. Then I came home. Imagine how relieved I was when I warily tested the sink and a great torrent of spluttering water came rushing out, momentarily spasmodic with pockets of air. God bless.

And that's it for tonight. I am off to take advantage of the water and electricity and have a hot shower, at long last. Wish me luck with the ants! Seems like I might need it. Good night!