The Buses of Kampala

Typed on the 20th of May, late-night as well.

So, there are two general modes of transportation here in Kampala. You can ride a boda-boda, which is a little motorcycle with room on the back – faster, maybe a little more dangerous, but more expensive. The alternative, which is what I’ve been using, is a mini-bus or matatu. Think of a regular van with the two seats in the front and three rows behind. It’s stripped down to the metal, and the seats are modified so that there are still regular seats in the middle and on the right, but the seats on the left are fold-able so people can step over them and the front passenger seat goes across the middle where the console would be. Now, take that van and fill it to capacity. There’s a driver and a toll-man (who spends the whole ride telling the people he passes where he’s going to try to pick them up) and 11-14 other people crammed into it. Usually a full van is 4 people across in each row and 2 by the driver, and the toll-man usually just sits on the very edge of his seat since he’s hanging on the sliding door anyways. That’s my primary mode of transportation! It’s pretty inexpensive, but being a muzungu, or white guy, they’ve tried to get more out of me. Going into town with Morris has cost me 500UGX, and coming back today cost me 800, but he said it was because I got them at the stop-off station, but I think it’s because I’m a foreigner. Word’s still out on the real reason.


On my own

Typed on the 30th of May, late night.

Today was a big adventure compared to yesterday. Last night I wandered our neighborhood alone and spend the night alone (George and Morris were both out of town for the evening). Today, Morris tested me by saying goodbye to me in Wandegeya, a big shopping district where I’ve always eaten meals and used the internet. So I was online for about 20 minutes to check everything out (it was nice to get through most of my e-mails, e-mail Kim and my parents, and even update some social networks – I even got to chat with Angela a little!) before I had to find my way home! I made it okay, but since I’m a “white man” they hiked up the rates. Speaking of which, I’m still getting used to the money here.  Ugandan Shillings are roughly 1/2000 of a dollar, but certain things are way cheaper here while others are about the same price as back home.

Before that get-myself-home adventure, Morris took me to Makerere University, the biggest and oldest university in all of East Africa! It was really cool because it is a giant campus that covers several small hills and one big hill, and all of the campus is really pretty.  I took lots of pictures too, so you’ll get a slideshow :)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tomorrow is an even bigger adventure. I have to leave early to deal with traffic (it can a loooong time to get into the city center at the wrong time) and get to Morris’ work. He’s going to help me exchange my traveler’s checks (interestingly, even foreign exchange bureaus rarely take them, so I have to go to a Barclay’s or something) and then I will be going to the NACWOLA headquarters in Kampala. I will be putting in a few days there to better understand the organization before moving up to Lira this weekend to start my real internship.

Nothing Important

Typed on the 30th of May, late morning.

I slept some last night! Napped for a little before calling Kim and my parents, then went to sleep and got a good 7 or 8 hours rest, only woke up 4 times, and once it was raining! Now I’m up and trying to spruce up the room. It’s become a disaster of luggage, shopping bags, and papers in the passed day. Also there are tiny ant-like things crawling on my computer screen and it’s kind of annoying. Today’s pretty relaxed. It’s 10am and Morris said he’d be here in an hour or so, so I’m going to read and maybe play games on my computer or something.

But! You can see more of my room!

This is my bed, equipped with mosquito net!This is my big iron door. when I leave I have to reach my arm through that little door and lock it from the inside!