Kampala Nights

Friday, November 11, 2011  at 10:25 AM
Written By: Chris Coulon.

After two weeks on Rusinga Island and nearly a week in the small town of Kisumu, Kampala seems like a packed metropolis.  If anything it appears to be even busier than Nairobi, with its packed streets teeming with voracious vendors and pedestrians alike.

Our first few days are spent in the jam packed center, where the town never seems to sleep.  We find cheap accommodations ($6 a night) including a simple bed in an otherwise empty room with one unlighted toilet to be shared among the other thirty guests on our floor, but at those prices it’s hard to complain.  Our first days here are spent meandering the many alleyways, trying different street foods and at one point literally stumbling into a big demonstration for Uganda’s opposition party.

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Our boots caked in Kampala mud from the rains the previous night

Fortune has graced us yet again, and on the evening of October 30 we find ourselves at a lively Halloween party for the Kampala couchsurfing community and all their current guests.  Over thirty guests found their way to the party, many are foreigners currently living in Kampala and more than a few are Ugandans themselves.  Many of the guests wait until they have arrived before donning costumes as Halloween is a relatively new concept here, but that does not deter one Polish man from travelling half way across the city on public transport dressed as a woman. 

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Our local "restaurant" caters to people and chickens!

Through a series of strange circumstances Danalynn and I spend two of our days in a small house to ourselves in one of Kampala’s suburbs.  Originally, we were supposed to meet our host the day we arrived in Kampala, but after realizing he forgot a digit or two from his phone number (three to be exact) we were unable to get a hold of him for several days.  On the second day we decide to find another couch surfer with a last minute request.  One good samaritan tells us that he is booked up with other surfers but we can crash at his brother’s flat.  We happily agree just to meet some new people, but on the way, we discover this “brother” is actually our original host that we have not been able to get a hold of.  So in the end we are shown to our original host’s place by his brother, and did not even meet the owner until our final morning, when we had a great chat with him for thirty minutes before departing.

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Matoke and beans, breakfast of Ugandan champions!

Our last few days in Kampala were spent with a couple of American expats who now run an organization called UConnect, which strives to give access to computers and library archives for many of Uganda’s poorest students and in places often devoid of internet.  I was also tickled to discover our host belongs to, as he termed it, “a local drinking club, with a running problem.” We thought, “what better way to see Kampala then on a run with some of the locals?”  As such I found myself on our last night in town jogging 8 kilometers up, down and around the many hills of Kampala before ending at a bar where the club members zealously fulfilled the clubs true mission.
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