Tuesday, 08/21, was the 6th day of the trip. The construction crew did their new “usual.” They got up, ate all of the breakfast (literally), and moved to the job-site, waking everyone who was asleep on the way
By this point, we were on two different schedules. They got up early- and go off “early” (read: 6:00 pm). We got up late (7:00 am) and came in late (11:00 pm or so).
That morning, I met a friend from Kampala at the pastors’ conference and then toured some of the city with him. Samuel is the pastor of New Destiny Outreach, which is located on the western side of the city. They do neighborhood clean-up days, host live-viewing of soccer matches on a big screen in their church building, and serve women in the “red light district,” just near their church. They have dreams of opening a community center that hosts finance classes, job training, and a host of other programs that are needed in the area- including micro-finance opportunities for their neighbors to start businesses of their own.
Samuel took me to the American Embassy, a nearby orphanage (again, part of the reason for the trip was to identify children for our adoption), and to meet a local attorney who helps facilitate adoptions. I learned where the local high court is (where adoption hearings are held), and saw some of the sites of the city (Parliament, for instance).
I also road a boda. More than once. Bodas are motorcycles that act as “taxi-cabs.” They line the streets of Kampala. You agree on a price before riding. Often, the driver (you ride on the back of the bike) will try to upcharge you once you arrive. This happened more than once. You simply pay what you agreed.
Most boda drivers have no insurance. Some don’t even have a license. They just drive.
Traffic laws apply when the driver decides they should apply. And only then. For instance, we came to a traffic jam and my driver simply hopped the curb, dodge the oncoming pedestrians, then meandered back onto the street when it was clear- after passing the jam.
Tuesday I came in contact with two great marks of Western Civilization:
- Internet access.
- Cell phones.
It seems that these were hard to come by for a few days. With the schedule we had been keeping it had been impossible to change money from American currency to Ugandan Shillings. Finally, I had money. And, with local pastor driving me around (Samuel), I was able to navigate to the right places to get what I needed.
Orange (the name of the company) has a deal where you can by a phone for what amounts to $14.00 USD. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the iPhone (the Ugandan pastors we were with routinely asked, “What’s that big phone-thing you carry?”), and looks like the tiny Nokia phones that were the rage 10 years ago. But it’s cheap and works. I could make local calls for what amounted to about 8-10 cents per minute. And, I could purchase 45 minutes of International airtime to the U.S. for 5,000 shillings (about $2.25 USD, depending on the exchange rate). I did this twice and was able to speak to Cristy at length about the progress I was making related to the adoption (meeting lawyers, identifying children, findings at the Embassy, what different orphanages were like, etc.). It costs me about 5 cents a minute to do that.
I also purchased an “Orange Stick” (looks like a flash drive, but goes into the USB port of the computer and connects to the Internet). It takes WIFI with you everywhere. I purchased 3GB for about $30.00 USD. I never used more than 25% of that, though I used the Internet quite a bit.
My original plan was to blog about the trip each day- in the evening. But…
- I heard that power may be sketchy, depending on where I was staying (this proved to be true- and I rectified it by taking an 19-hour backup batter for the MacBook Air I use).
- I also didn’t know if I would have Internet access. Orange made it very cheap and easy.
- I figured I would be tired- and am now, after the trip, wondering how in the world I would have kept that writing pace anyway. I can hardly find time to fit this in when I’m not up from 7am to midnight or longer each day.