Second Impressions

A few people have asked me to post some pictures, so this update will be a disappointment. I haven’t taken pictures because:

1)    I don’t want to look like a tourist.

2)    As I said in my previous post, the most striking thing about my surroundings is the scale, and you don’t get that from a photograph. I have taken the odd snap of a hillside or highway but they just look tame and boring on a puny screen.

3)    The more interesting buildings in Kampala are surrounded by traffic and crowds of people, so finding a vantage point from which to frame a photograph is quite tricky.

4)     I’ve been quite busy.

That said, I will do my best to take some interesting pictures in the next week in order to brighten things up a bit. I also plan to write some proper reflections, rather than a list of scattered thoughts. In the meantime, here are some scattered thoughts:

1)    Mobile internet is quite reliable now that I have a 3G dongle, although speed is variable.

2)    Electricity is not so reliable, with several power cuts per week. Some last for more than a day. However, they are quite localized so it is easy enough to walk to a neighbouring suburb to pick up street food and a cold beer.

3)    Beer is always bottled, never draught. I’ve sampled three Ugandan lagers and rate them as follows: Club tastes like Carling, Bell is drinkable, Nile is actually quite nice. The price ranges from about 70p to £2 per 500ml bottle, depending on the bar. You can also buy Guinness, but have to drink it from the bottle. No sign of any real ale.

4)    One good way to kill an evening is to go out and watch European football, although the time difference means it often starts quite late. At first glance, everyone seemed to support Arsenal, but I have since observed people cheering for Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid. I’ve yet to meet a fellow Fulham fan (or Cambridge United fan, for that matter). Enthusiasm for domestic football is not evident.

5)    Washing all your clothes by hand is annoying. Bed sheets, even more so. I do not recommend it.

6)    The weather here is often spectacular, with heavy rain storms and baking sunshine both crammed into most days. I’ve encountered the loudest thunder I have ever heard. This can make it difficult to dry your clothes after washing them, however. You have to time it right.

7)    Working for an NGO in Uganda is not so very different from working for a charity providing public services in the UK. They face many of the same challenges and operate in a similar organizational context. I’ll write more on this at some point. (More interesting than it sounds, I think.)

8)    Cake is not the same in Uganda. I miss British cake.

Hope you enjoy the long weekend – we had our public holiday yesterday…

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