The next Morning I awoke to a noisy city. Many people get up at day break or earlier, and there was a religions zealot, or very motivated salesman screaming into a mega phone for an hour at 6 a.m.
After reluctantly crawling out of bed, I slowly got ready for the day. We went to breakfast, which was provided by the motel. Fresh fruit, amazing bananas,pineapple, watermelon, toast, eggs, and African tea! It was the nice part of the morning.
After breaky, Mar in her gentle prodding pushed me into the city. Walking through the city was crazy, difficult, mesmerizing and intriguing. Vans, trucks, bicycles and motor scooters all whiz by in a chaotic river. First thing I learned….quickly, thankfully through Marcy’s advice, is to make sure to look and be aware of vehicles, as no one will stop from hitting you. Here the vehicle has the right of way. Seems logical now, as they are moving fast, heavy metal objects and will always win a game of chicken. Nature would dictate that pedestrians be wary. That is something I noticed , that here, the unbiased realities of nature play out as it does on the plains or jungles of the world, realizing that this place predates the west and the human wrangled societies that most of us are accustomed.
We went to a little market with tourist trinkets (most from Kenya) so Marcy could pick up some gifts for friends. There where awesome little ebony wood figures, and I started thinking how excellent it would be to get a board of ebony to take home….although I had no idea where to find rough sawn lumber in Kampala, and neither did Mar.
I think Marcy wanted to throw me right into the fire, so she took me to Owino Market, the largest street market in Kampala. This was one of the most amazing places I have ever stepped foot in. Trying to take pictures was well beyond me. I felt uncomfortable having my camera out for several reason; 1.) the obvious safety issues and concerns over theft. 2.) I could sense that people here were weary of being the spectacle of a white person taking pictures of the archaic African, and 3.) Many people ask for money to take their photograph.
The market was a labyrinth of booths covered by makeshift tin or cloth roofs, filled with Salvation Army everything, a massive section for food, roasted g-nuts (peanuts) g-nut paste, sim sim paste (sesame seed paste), fruits and spices, all in large sacks on the ground or lifted on a ledge for close viewing and housewares (Africa style). The sensations and smells of this place were vibrant and so intense I can still vividly recall the heartiness even a month after I was there. If Marcy wasn’t leading I would have been lost and never came out. Seriously we walked for a good ten minutes in just one direction without coming to a break. This place will be forever seared into my brain. I wish I could explain it proper, but I know my ability to describe via written word will never be antiquate to do this place justice.
Next we went to the taxi park….all I can say is, how the hell do Ugandans get anywhere, find anything, or even get a vehicle in or out of this cluster F (I thought about it for a month…this is the best word possible to describe the taxi park) Amazingly though, it does work, and there is a system. After several months of practice, Marcy was familiar with the park and able to guide me through.
After about an hour of walking, I was already mentally and physically drained (I’m blaming it on the heat), and Marcy suggested we go to a great bar that over looked the taxi park and city. Best of all I was going to taste my first Ugandan beer!
We sat above the taxi park, observing the chaos, drinking a beer called Nile (the brewery is on the Nile River, hence the name) and did a years worth of catching up. After our $1.00, 22 once beers we pushed through the crowded, hectic streets again, back to our motel to rest a bit.
Later that night , we went to my ideal restaurant. I should have taken a video from the street to the door. We snaked through an alleyway, and then back rooms, then random floor working areas where women where barbecuing, washing laundry and all sorts of other business. After being completely turned around we came to stairs that had no business standing. They where metal, deep enough only for the ball of your foot, wacky fun house twisted, and steep. We went up 3 stories and stepped into this place:
It was basically just a sweet woman from Ethiopia, in her house, cooking out of her kitchen and serving us in her living room. The food, Ethiopian of course, was amazing, the establishment was everything I love about a place. Authentic and literally a hole in the wall. It was like visiting a friend or relative and having them cook for you. I can not think of a more comforting place. We ate and sat for over 2 hours, and as it got dark candles were lit and we ate desert and drank African coffee by fire light.
The food was amazing! To eat Ethiopian you eat with your fingers and use the Injera bread as the utensil, which is under the bowls in these pictures. Injera is a sour, spongy dense bread but offsets the spicy, curries and meats that are served. Some of the tastiest food I have put in my mouth to date.
The next day we walked and took a taxi to the Peace Corps office. On the way in the middle of the city I came upon some surreal sights. Here are a few: