I'm not sure how to describe driving. I could have gotten whiplash with how fast I was looking around. Storefronts are piled wih goods of every kind. Some are painted bright red to advertise for Cococola or Airtech. Others are yellow with big signs for MTN. Most are just brown mud with a tin roof. The streets are full, full, full of people. Children, some cows and goats...a few lost chickens...The roads are mostly reddish brown--which leaves everything a little orange from the dust. There are patches of corn, papyrus and other little "gardens." Groups of men on boda bodas (motorcycles) wait on every corner for customers. I was just....wow. I really felt like I was in someplace new!
Our first stop was in Kampala. The city is huge and the traffic, chaotic. The roads are crazy busy and there are virtually no rules. We stopped at the big shopping mall called the "Oasis." I think we were a spectacle--a white parade as we exchanged money, got phones and SIM cards and ate lunch. I exchanged $100 US dollars which equaled 254,000 shillings. I really don't have a good handle on the money. I need to go through, count and organize. The decimal points are throwing me off! We went to the pizza place for lunch. Apparently it is one of the most popular places for non-Ugandans (the mall, not the restaurant), so there were a lot of western food options. The pizza was alright. The cheese was off...not bad...just different. Looking out the window of the bathroom there were timber supports three stories up. Quite the juxtaposition because inside, the mall looked like it could be in the US.
Leaving Kampala we headed toward Masaka. The view, the street vendors, the fields, the cattle...its safe to say I am in the "wow everything is awesome" phase. We stopped at the equator. There is a little monument and 3 buckets to text the Coriolis effect. Wow, physics! Masaka was just 30 minutes south of the equator. Its hard to tell how much of the town we have driven through on our way in. It is all so intimidating now, the weaving rows of buildings and people everywhere. How will I ever figure this place out? I'm really hoping I become comfortable here. Lydia, Julian and I will be spending the week in Maska at Hotel Zebra because our host families are too far outside the city to commute for orientation. I'm really hoping this doesn't mean visits to Masaka will be too hard or impractical.
We had a bit of orientation stuff at the hotel. Now everyone is sitting on the patio, on their laptop. I think pictures have already been uploaded to Facebook. Aye karumba. Speaking of cross-continental trends, "Call Me Maybe" played on the radio in the minibus today. Phil was jamming, but Julian was highly distressed that even in Uganda, he cannot get away from Carly Rae Jepson.
Okay. Time for a shower and bed!