I’m currently in Mubende, a veritable metropolis for Uganda, hosting a whopping 40,000 people. It’s been three days since we left Kampala, and I haven’t seen a single other Mzungu since we left. (Isn’t it interesting that I would notice that fact – so much for being colorblind?)
Today was – hypothetically – my first entire day off since I arrived in Uganda. As usual, that was not the case. I quickly discovered that we were missing a handful of the myriad forms we are supposed to fill out at each site, which meant I needed to find a stationary store. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that our Ugandan site coordinators had failed to mobilize the necessary farmers. Long story short, by early afternoon it seemed that my free day was quickly evaporating.
Then, as if by the hand of god, the power went out. Blackouts in Uganda (that is, for the 5% of the country that has electricity) are supposedly quite common, but I hadn’t experienced one during my time in Kampala. For me, it felt like a disaster: I needed to make copies, send e-mails, and get in touch with our site coordinators. The stationary store quickly shut down and my phone – which I hadn’t been able to charge, since there is a persistent long line to use any of our hotel’s three working sockets – died.
While I was busy working myself up into a frenzy, convinced that the apocalypse was upon me, I realized how non-plussed the Ugandans seemed. My experience with blackouts in the U.S. is that inspire a moderate amount of panic. Despite the lack of power, everything here seemed, well, the same. The people sitting in restaurants simply moved inside, and the employees operating the copying machines in the tiny stationary stands took a seat and started talking.
I think one of the greatest lessons I have learned so far here is that to try to force things to happen is to set myself up for disappointment and frustration. So, I flagged down a boda boda and asked him to show me his favorite parts of Mubende. Ten dollars got me a three hour joy ride; pictures are below.
.. or maybe not, depending on the internet.