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Arrival in Kampala

July 3, 2010

I have arrived safe and sound in Kampala, after an epic 20 hour, 3 leg flight. The flights themselves were as good as could be hoped for in economy class. I am staying at a cheap hotel in town until my housing situation firms up. I do not recommend the hotel, the Aponye, but I’ll soon be settled in a nicer neighborhood.

First impressions are typical of my experiences in developing countries, especially when you are on a shoestring budget and a pedestrian. Hot. Dusty. Smoggy. Crowded. Noisy. Chaotic traffic. Broken sidewalks where they exist at all. But considering my experience in Kosovo in 2005, I expect these inconveniences to melt away after awhile, as I get to know people, move in, and adjust. My interactions with people have been positive—a cab driver even told me when I dramatically overpaid for a ride. Naturally, I stick out like a sore thumb, especially in this neighborhood.

It’s been fun and challenging at the same time. Some cool things I’ve done so far:

  • My first and second motorcycle rides ever. Hopping on the back of a motorcycle is the only fast way to get around this large, congested city without melting into the pavement. These are called ‘boda boda’, because they will take your from border to border. At least, that’s the story in my guidebook. Fairly safe, and only a dollar to go all over town.
  • Watching the Netherlands beat Brazil in a Dutch-owned, Dutch-filled thatched hut bar.

Otherwise, I am still vainly trying to adjust to the time difference. It’s 10 hours ahead of the Bay Area here.


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