We crossed over into Uganda on foot and were met by two vans. Several of our group went in one van with Sister Salome Nnambi, GTL’s Uganda coordinator. Mary Schwartz and I went with Sister Salome’s assistant, Cissy, in the other. Alex’s group headed north for Mbale. We were heading west, towards a guesthouse run by nuns near Kampala.
It was quickly obvious that Uganda is much poorer than Kenya. The roads are atrocious, much worse than that bad stretch we went through on our way to the Huma School in Kenya. The mud huts were so primitive it is hard to imagine living in one. We constantly passed people carrying huge, heavy jugs of water along the road. They were taking it back to their huts, having filled them at a well or other water source.
When we stopped along the road in a town, we were usually swamped by women selling vegetables they had grown on their little plots. I had never seen carrots so big and so orange.
Let me say here that in every case, these vegetable sellers were polite and friendly and not “in our faces.” In fact, I never encountered any person in either Kenya or Uganda who was not friendly. They seem to love Americans. Of course, the fact that they all speak English in addition to Swahili or Lugandan makes it easy to communicate and made the trip so much more rewarding than if they had not spoken our language.
We passed the Source of the Nile along the way to the guest house. Not far from there I persuaded the driver to stop at an internet cafe where I attempted to check emails. That proved difficult. For some reason, I was frozen out of most of my email accounts. Frustrating.
Once at the guest house, we were treated like kings by the nuns. They cooked us breakfast and dinner each night and even went out and bought us beer. Nile beer is one of Uganda’s best brands. And the beer in both Kenya and Uganda comes in 16 ounce bottles. The food was generally bland and starchy. Matoke, a paste made of steamed green bananas, is a staple at every meal. The dinners usually also included potatoes and either chicken or fish. The chicken in Uganda is grizzly.
The next day we began visiting schools in and around Kampala.