October 13

John and Dayna in Uganda – A Walk Through The Neighborhood

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Some of you have continued to ask “what is it really like living in Uganda?”

To give you all a flavor of what it is like where we live, we thought that we would take you on a journey of the sights, sounds and smells that we experience on our regular walks through our neighborhood. We have a few different routes that we take, but here is a sampling of what we regularly see/hear/smell on our 45 to 60 minute excursions:

Leaving the apartment, we usually take a left up our paved street (Kutta Road) and head up the hill.

• There is a woman working the field across the street with a hoe. She has a small child with her (perhaps 2 or 3 years old). We kid you not; the child was swinging or playing with a machete!
• Walking up the hill we dodge the many, many potholes that are present.
• Here comes a neighbor being dropped off at the apartment. She is on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle taxi). No helmets.
• Zoning (or lack of it) is one of the many interesting things about this country. On our street (and most others) you can see quite a variety of structures: a very nice large house, then a literal shack, then a small apartment building, then a big house that is under construction but seems abandoned, then a small school, then an empty lot, then a lot that is a veggie garden. Fascinating!
• It smells like plumeria flowers as you walk up the hill.
• Most if not all fences around properties have razor wire and/or broken glass to thwart intruders.
• There is bougainvillea all over.
• Near the end of the street is a well used tennis court. It is great to see it being used a lot, even if the net is quite frayed.
• We see tons of mature fruit trees all over the place: Mango, papaya, banana, avocado, and jackfruit to name a few.

At the top of the hill, we turn up another steep street (Nijuki Way).

• This dirt street has MAJOR ruts and holes galore.
• About half way up the street it becomes paved and has a few street lights (a rare sight).
• We smell and see some burning trash (a common occurrence).

The end of this street intersects with a main road called Tank Hill. We head up then down the hill.

• There are joggers out.
• On many main roads we see women that are wearing a vest and are responsible to sweep the dirt and debris toward the sides. They are most often bent at the waist, utilizing a “broom” made up of bound together straw (about 15 inches long or so) with no handle per se. It seems to be painstaking work.
• Here come some taxis. These are 14 passenger mini buses that more often than not are filled with more than 14 people. The taxis have lots of stuff on the roof and back.
• We see a boda boda with 4 grown men riding on it (we call it a “quad” sighting).
• We see a boda boda with 2 adults and a very small child riding in the front…. Wow.
• Did we just see 4 monkeys running across the road??? Yep!
• On the corner is a police kiosk with 3 extremely bored looking cops.
• There is a view of Lake Victoria.
• A Marabou stork is perched on a post. One very ugly but cool creature.
• There is the Hotel International where we hit their gym (not as often as we should).
• Near the bottom of Tank Hill there is the smell of someone cooking and selling food – a Rolex is being whipped up on a small charcoal grill pan. This is a chapatti flatbread with a fried egg in it.

At the bottom we turn left at Kirunda Road.

• A boda boda stand is on the corner. There are about 12 boda boda guys waiting for fares.
• There is a small newspaper seller (he has a little stand).
• This street has a lot of flowers on the sides, both wild and planted by owners.
• A school, an NGO, a store, houses, and various other structures exist on this road.

At the bottom we again turn left onto Lower Muyenga Road.

• There is an under construction but abandoned looking apartment building.
• We see a wedding procession. All the cars are decorated with ribbons and flowers.
• One of the most amazing sites is an extremely basic wood structure “church”. On Sundays we hear drums and clapping and singing in a foreign language.
• There are people selling fruit and veggies from their stands.
• Steers are grazing in a field, and there are 10 or so crossing the street (what a sight!).
• Here come two kids rolling thin tires with a stick (like something you saw a kid doing in the 40’s???). Way cool.
• There is a “butchery” (kinda scary meat seller stand- no refrigeration)

We eventually turn up a street with no name that cuts back to our apartment.

• We hear goats screaming loudly, and see them grazing and running loose.
• There are kids that are dressed up for another church midway up the street.
• There are kids dressed in extremely well worn clothing.
• Women are on the front porches washing clothes (and small children) using plastic tubs.
• There are a bunch of chickens. There is another stupid loud rooster.
• There is a small child playing with an empty water bottle with rocks in it. He is shaking it and laughing.
• There is a garden with corn and other veggies growing, and people tending the land.
• We hear a bunch of extraordinarily LOUD screeching birds – we think that they are Hadeda Ibises.
• A dog is running up the road.

We are back home….