I Have Seen the Pearl

Last week went by much too quickly. By the time I landed in Kampala and began to really enjoy the energy of the place, I was on my way back to Kigali.  For days I regretted coming back so early  but instead of dwelling on a poor decision,  I’ll instead  reminisce about the splendid days  I spent in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa!

I had been so nervous about going to Kampala to meet my dad who was there for a  conference. I knew we’d spend  Monday together but  had no idea how to spend the rest of my days there in this completely unknown  country. It didn’t help that people have most often described Uganda, Kampala specifically,  as “disorganized”, “loud” and “chaotic making me a little uneasy especially since I didn’t know anyone there.  My attempts to recruit friends to come along for the trip were unsuccessful so Monday came and I boarded the plane alone.

Well, long story short  I loved UG! My first stop was Speke Resort in Munyonyo. It  was gorgeous.  While my dad napped, I walked around and took photo after photo .  I passed by at least three restaurants,  a humongous swimming pool , and  horse stables. Even the long driveways lined with colorful bushes and trees earned space on my camera.  My favorite part  was the gardens.

Speke Resort
Speke Resort Munyonyo

My friend Pam had found me someone to say with the day before I left so after a few hours at the resort with my dad, and (some wasted shillings on a SIM card and airtime that didn’t work in my MTN Rwanda phone! Argh.) I was off to meet Ben and to see Kamapala.  Ben was super nice and easy going even though he was really busy with work and we had a great time together.  The first night he took me to a wedding meeting.  Canadian friends, ever been to a wedding meeting?  Well if not, let me tell you, they’re nothing like what you see on Rich Bride Poor Bride. Nope, at this wedding meeting , there were lists of items needed, there was auctioning, there was a bag that came around like ti was church, there was a mystery gift that we had to bid for.  There was a lot of yelling, laughter, jokes and lighthearted harassing of people who walked past the meeting to donate money.  For awhile we were bidding on buying football teams Ghana and Brazil I think it was. I’ll admit,  I was slightly lost and a tad tired but it was defiantly an interesting first.

On Tuesday my friend Bryan’s sister Diana spent the day looking around the city at all the shops and looking for a purse for me and dodging traffic. There are so so many more places to go in Kampala than there are in Kigali stores and restaurants that you could spend hours just looking at. There’s also music playing loudly on the streets which is something I’ve actually missed in Kigali.  During our excursion I got go to go Slyvia Owori’s store, the fashion designer who publishes African woman magazine.

Before hanging with Diana, I went to the National Museum of Uganda. It’s a little old and dusty but I’d still recommend checking it out. It gives you a good idea of what old Uganda was like, the people, the tools they used, etc. the way a good museum should. I saw plenty of creepy birds, and gigantic insects as well. There was also a very cool temporary display at the back on climate change in Uganda and the various ways African countries are tackling it.  I really liked seeing the old styles of housing Ugandans had. I wanted to go see the places where the kings were buried but a friend informed me that they were burned down.

Other things I did while in Kampala included listening to live music at this nice outdoor lounge called Catch the Sun where my friend Pam’s sister entertained us with her sweet voice.  I especially liked when she sang ‘potbelly’ by the Freshly Ground. I also  tasted some  Ugandan treats: chaps and Alvaro, went shopping in this marketplace where apparently all the students go to get nice digs at good prices,  bought some gifts for my mom and sis from a nice craft market (I forget the name right now) and risked my life on a boda-boda, the Ugandan version of motos.  I finished the day of with ice cream at garden city with Sharon and a heart to heart with my dad back at the resort.

On Thursday, my last day in Uganda I went to Jinja, proclaimed to be the source of the Nile.  It was nice to get out of the city and hear the water, see the trees, smell the fresh air and drive through the forest. At the site you’ll see a monument go Gandhi because his ashes were sprinkled in the nile. You’ll also see some craft stalls if you want to buy a souvenir.  I didn’t get to take the boat ride but I visited the waterfalls  nearby where apparently this guy will cross the rushing waters floating on only a jerry can if people paid him.  I tried to ignore the monstrous spider (about the size of my open hand) that was in a web right above my head as  I enjoyed fresh Tilapia from the Nile.  In a nutshell, that was my visit to Kampala, a short and sweet visit to what I consider a playground compared to Kigali.  If all goes well, I should be heading back for more fun in August!

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