We left the quaint Tropicana hotel in Gulu around 10 AM. We picked up our last chapatti and egg sandwiches for breakfast and started our 7 hour journey to Kampala. Ilise and Drew gave some clothing to Jennifer, one of the workers at the Tropicana. She washed all of our clothes for 7,000 shillings (about $2.50). It would have cost us more in quarters at a laundry mat in the states, but with no electric dryers the line drying was challenging since it rained three times that day.We also said goodbye to Charles who managed the hotel. They were all very nice.
On our trip to Kampala we stopped a number of times along the way for photo opportunities of the raging rapids of the Nile River and just past the bridge were a few families of baboons. The baboons were very friendly and came very close to the us as we fed them some nuts. We stopped in a few small villages, some that were perfect for grilled meat and chicken and others for mango and bananas. All of the fruits here have been amazing with more flavor than anything we get in CA. I thought the fruit in San Diego was good, I just didn’t have anything like this to compare it to. We have also tasted some items we have never had before, including raw sugar cane. I have never had cane sugar but it is pretty good. We also were introduced to cassava, a vegetable that tastes a bit like a potato, but not exactly. On our ride we got some roasted cassava and roasted maze (corn). I have tried maze both roasted and boiled and liked them equally.
As we left the northern part of Uganda and traveled toward Kampala you could see the transition start to happen. We moved from really rural markets to more urban areas near Kampala. The buildings started to look more stable and there were more markets with more goods. I would normally call it the beginning of civilization, but I am starting to question what civilization really is. It has been a great tour of an amazing country and we only really got a small taste on this trip. The kids want to come back again, but I am not sure Ilise is ready to sign up again just yet. I am pretty sure that I will find myself back here in the future looking to insure the success of U-TOUCH.
When we arrived in Kampala we headed to Joshua’s house and dropped all of our bags. Once we dropped the bags we headed back into the city to a local performance facility called Ndere Center. This is a performance center that puts on a local dance show from regions all around Uganda. Joshua is good friends with the host, Steven, and we had a reserved table right in the middle of the theater. There was a local buffet with bbq that was interesting. As I like to try new things the bbq offered chicken (had enough chicken already), pork and goat. So, I have never tasted goat before and asked the chef if I could have half goat and have pork and he said I could only choose one. So, being daring I said goat. When I got to the table to eat I tasted the goat and it was interesting in taste but extremely tough to eat. I said something to Deb and she took it back and replaced some of the goat with pork. That was a much better choice.
As for the dancing, it was amazing. There were shaking booties and drum routines that were extremely unique. The singers were excellent and they even invited all of the kids up on stage toward the end. The final dance included women balancing little clay bowls on their head. I didn’t think much of it until one of the women started adding bowl after bowl after bowl. By the time she was done she was balancing 10 of these items on her head. She was not just hanging out in the corner balancing the bowls, she was singing and shaking her bootie and still balancing the bowls on her head. It was truly amazing. I enjoyed the show, but after a long day in the car it was a long night.
We are back at Joshua’s house and plan to head into Kampala for some meetings with U-TOUCH strategic partners. We will be meeting with the country director from Turkish Airlines for dinner tomorrow night and then head to Kenya on Tuesday afternoon. I will miss Uganda when I leave and we will see what the future brings for my return. I know the kids want to come back, but we will see what happens in the next couple of years as the memories fade.
‘Til next time ……