Monday, 20 February 2012

"Don't Urinate Here"

Last week, after our daily slave routine (some may be more familiar with the term "workout") I noticed a sign hanging crooked on a tree that reads, "DON'T URINATE HERE, FINE 10000." It seemed sort of comical, and I decided it had photographic potential. I took the photo and was surprised to have a nearby security guard stop me. *Note: the entertainment qualities of this dialogue are dramatically increased when read with an African accent.

Guard: "Why are you taking a picture of my sign?"

Me: "Well…I think it's kind of funny."

"I will arrest your camera."

"You're gonna arrest my camera?"

"I will arrest your camera."

"Well, how about I just delete the picture instead? See look, I'll delete it."

He then gets up from the plastic chair he so dutifully guards his sign from and stands over me, ruining any plan I had to secretly keep the picture. I delete it, and he seems pleased. We then part ways; I to my house and he to his chair. 

Not long after, we see him again in passing (we walk that way quite often) and he breaks out a huge grin as we wave to each other. 

The next day on our way to the store, which of course follows the same path, like it seems nearly everything does, we run into each other again and greet each other with big smiles and handshakes. 

Mom: "Sebo (sir), what is your name?" 

Guard: "Sebi."

Mom and I: "Sebi?"

Guard: "Yes, S-E- ….. you can call me Charles. Now that we are friends, you may take a picture."

Fast as lightning we whip out our cameras, which we always keep on hand. Then mom asks the question I was already thinking, both of us obviously mentally preparing a new blog post. 

"Can we take a picture of you with the sign?"

Charles grins, "If you pay me."

"Aw, but I thought we were friends??" There was some laughter, followed by some debating, and then finally consent. 

And that is how we met Charles the security guard, who now grins ear to ear and waves happily every time we say hello.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

New Beginnings

     Having moved to Uganda two weeks ago, changes are of course to be expected; drastically increased temperatures, the daily war between human and mosquito, frequent losses in electricity, water, internet, etc., culture shock, jet lag and so on. But as prepared as you may think you are, it still takes some getting used to. I had heard of the insane traffic that Kampala faces on a regular (and also irregular) basis, but I was apparently still unprepared. Cars are packed in so tightly that you could simply reach your hand out of your window, through your neighbor's window and pat them on the head. Motorcycles (here, referred to as "boda bodas") zip in and out of the traffic like flies, and while that is the fastest mode of transportation, it is also the most dangerous. For the moment we are still confined to mere "pedestrian status," as we are still without a car, and therefore do not have to worry so much about how bad traffic is. However it's still a little unnerving to feel the gust of wind cars throw at you as the speed past, and of course, crossing the street is an experience in and of itself. 

The heat is still hard to endure at times, although that may have something to do with jumping from Colorado in the peak of winter to Uganda in its warmest season. Running out of water mid-shower is less than desirable, and not having electricity when you would like to use the toaster is slightly irritating. But there were many happy surprises too. Our particular apartment owes a good portion of its electricity to solar power. This means that when the electricity is out, while everyone else is having to make do with candles, we can enjoy our lights and three of our outlets, one of which connects to the fridge, keeping our food nice and cold. We are situated in the heart of Kololo (a busy district inside of Kampala) and can walk to the store or mall easily (of course when I say "mall," it's not the kind of mall America is used to). Nature here is beautiful, and I find myself trying to capture its beauty in a photograph almost every time we walk. 

But the most enjoyable change is the people. A passing "hello" brings out the biggest smile and lights up their eyes. They are a kind and polite people. And I am quickly growing to love them.