Sunday, November 05, 2006

Uganda, Baby!

Here I am in Kampala - the capitol of Uganda. I was excited to come here because Alec had told me that it was the party capitol of Central Africa - great food, wonderful wildlife, calm, nice people, nightclubs, bungee jumping in the source of the Nile. Woohoo! After some of the African places I've been, I couldn't wait.

Michelle, my colleague who knows Uganda the best, had told us the best place to stay with this hotel called the Mosa Court Hotel. I immediately needed to know if they had internet (as you know I'm addicted to writing to you people) and was told that they had in the room internet. The rooms were pretty bare - but that's not a problem - as long as the linens are fairly clean and the toilet flushes, then we're talking luxury. I was suprised that we were paying about $100 a night for this place but the 'development' economy is always expensive. Well - we didn't arrive til 1:30am the first night and our first meeting was at 8am so I expected to be tired. However, it turns out we checked into the LAND WHERE NOONE IS ALLOWED TO SLEEP.

Let's start with the fact that the drunk night guard just loitered around my door all night - shuffling back and forth, occasionally leaning on my door, sometimes shouting at people - so I didn't really fall deeply asleep. They also put me next to the restaurant so at 5am when the waiters started clinking and singing and chatting as they set up. So I basically got about 3 hours of sleep the first night. That's okay- I thought - I'll go to bed early on Friday night and sleep in on Saturday. Well, there was more shuffling and the like the next night but I turned on the a/c to provide ambient noise. At 7:30am the next morning the maid just burst into my door. There was no 'do not distrub' sign and no chain on the door. I got up to take a shower and the water pressure was barely strong enough to rinse the conditioner from my hair. When I returned at 4:30 after meetings all day, they left the patio doors to my room wide open after cleaning the room. Luckily I had taken all my electronics with me but I was on the ground floor next to the patio so anyone could have walked in. The screens were wide open and so all the mosquitos came streaming in. Kavita kept getting phone calls at midnight and also had two people taking a smoke break outside her bedroom door, so we were exhausted.

Yesterday, we came over to the Sheraton to use the wireless internet in the lobby and to have a meeting(because of course the internet and the electricity were not working at our hotel) but then found out the rates were almost the same when I lied and said we were with the UN. Today we checked in to the bliss of the Sheraton for only $120 a night. I have the day off but will spend it typing up notes and preparing to head to the North. The flight we intended to take is sold out so we will have to drive up north. I actually like that because I get to see more of the country - but it also means fording a river and dealing with a LRA road block so we'll have to get on the road early. Also, everyone and their brother is in the North right now because there is a lot of excitement over the potential peace agreement so we're not sure if we have a hotel to sleep in when we arrive in Kitgum. We certainly won't have access to the nice ones since the real UN will be staying there. So I will revel in the luxury of the Sheraton for two nights and steel myself for the border with Sudan. It still looks like we'll be going to Juba - land of collapsing tents and sweltering swamps so I had better get my luxury where I can.

Ta Ta for Now!

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