Pearl of Africa

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Africa » Uganda » Central Region » Kampala
November 4th 2011
Published: November 4th 2011
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The capital city, Kampala makes a great introduction of Uganda since it is highly developed and with a warm atmosphere. You’ll walk through the streets and strangers will great you “Hi, how are you?” and you’ll feel that you’re surround by lovely people. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and they will be more than happy to help, and they won’t ask you for money. If you need any help so we have learnt that best to begin the conversation with “Hi, how are you?” and later on ask what kind of information do you need. It has happened many times that we’re just saying “Hi” and asking for the direction but getting answer “I’m fine”. Well they are expecting that you’ll ask how they are doing today.

Kampala is a green and hilly city, and easiest way to get around is “boda-boda” (motorcycle). Yeah, maybe we would agree that it is an easiest and quickies, but most dangerous way as well. We have heart that at least half of boda-boda drivers don’t have any driver license and most accident involved with boda-boda. The helmet doesn’t exist but officially it is a law to carry. It can been frightening to get ride on boda-boda since they are driving through small traffic gaps and opposite traffic rules and special when they are answering in the mobile phone in the same time, and we don’t want talk about the speed. When you’re a passenger and your driver is driving and talking in the phone, and you see the cars which are coming towards you with a loud beep…well you think the last moment of your life is here. Actually it is best to blind and hope for the best, and this has worked for us every time luckily. We have noticed that it is more dangerous to walk around by feet that to have a ride by boda-boda because the drivers literally don’t care about people around on the streets.

The city is mixed of different nationalities and minority is Ugandans, Indians and Somalia people. You’ll be surprised how clean and colorful the city center is if you are arriving from other African’s capital city, for example Nairobi. Kampala and Nairobi is like day and night, and we understand why Kampala is called a pearl of Africa. It is much calmer and safer surrounding, friendly and smiling people, greener and cleaner environment, hilly and amazing landscape… well everything in one what you need to have in a capital city. First time after two months we could sit calmly in the car and wait for a ride without to close all the windows and lock the doors and nobody tried to open them or try to sell something. Unfortunately it isn’t a big deal to do for tourists in the city center and after one-two days you’ll be bored to go around same streets. But it is quite big contrasts between the areas in Kampala. We found many beautiful areas and it is hard to realize that we are still in Africa. You know big houses, gardens, guards etc. Some areas are absolute opposite this. Well the middle class is smallest which isn’t good at all.

As well we did arrive in the rainy season so few hours every day is raining heavily and you have to hide so fast you can. The streets become really empty, silent and over swept with water, and really muddy. Well it isn’t possible to avoid be dirty roads however. In the rainy period of day all people are sitting inside of restaurants and cafes. You have possibility to try varying food of this region, for example grasshoppers. It didn’t taste bad or good the grasshoppers but it was a new dish we have tried.

Actually our host did take us to a show of American Latin dance and it was great to see it. But we think it was like American-Afro Latin dance. The movements were really African ones and it was really interesting to see. Diana went to a course of African dance one night and she loved it but the mosquitoes were the biggest problem in this case. Well if we won’t get malaria after this so we must to be immune to it (or malaria tables do the job well).

Uganda is over populated country and one of the top in the world with fastest growing population (3-4% every year). It was hard to believe that the average age in Uganda is 15 years old… well this leads to some serious deforestation, erosion and other environment problems. Rarely you’ll see an older person in the streets but the children are everywhere. There is a big problem with HIV/AIDS which makes many children parentless in this county. Many streets children around the poor areas of Kampala but many parentless children get a place in an orphanage. As well the horrible history of Uganda is really fresh and still effecting people and the mentality. Actually it is many different problems in this tiny African country but people still is smiling and friendly to each other (well this is our experience).

To leave Kampala is quite nice because we realized that we are enjoying the wildlife, landscape and freedom in the nature much more. So we were escaping from the big city to a small village for a new adventure in the mountains. Next stop is Fort Portal…

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4th November 2011

Hi! I just found your blog and wanted to say I think it's great! I'm doing a volunteer project in Kenya next year, after which I'll be travelling in Kenya/Uganda/Rwanda/maybe Tanzania, so it's really nice to read your stories :) Thanks! Lisanne

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