Strangeville, Uganda

Sometimes Hi-C wonders if I even like traveling or if I just enjoy collecting stamps in my passport.  The truth is that I enjoy both.  It is my favourite kind of stamp collecting and will not require me to rent out storage space or close off entire rooms of my (future) house to accomodate my addiction; although it will require vacation time and funding but I am working on that.  The most recent addition to my collection has been the lovely entry and exit stamps for Uganda (plus another entry stamp into Kenya – I’m not picky!). 

We returned to Nairobi last night after shelling out for the Royal Treatment on Akamba buses and getting something more equivalent to what fleeing exiled monarchs must receive.  TIA*.  The last few days in Uganda were spent in Kampala, the capital city.  It is a bustling town with more charm and less danger than Nairobi (sorry Nairobbery – you have a special place in my heart but you kinda suck).  In the two days we had in Kampala we lived it up.  First stop on our whirlwind tour was……the cinema!  To our amazement and excitement they were playing the FINAL HARRY POTTER!  We could have waited a week but then we would not have watched it in a swanky theatre all to ourselves in Kampala, Uganda. 
Already on a roll we decided to see another show but this time it was a local production at La Bonita, a small theatre near our hotel.  What an experience that was.  There is no way to truly describe it but it was akin to a Ugandan soap opera + musical + variety show.  It followed three crazy and minimally converging storylines** with a series of set changes and interspersed videos of (what I would assume to be) local celebrities adding their opinions and giving clues about what was to come next.  There were up to 30 actors on stage at any given time, they switched constantly between English and Luganda (we were a bit lost) and it was all prerecorded so the actors lip-synced all their lines and the songs.  After 3.5 hours of this sans intermission and no end in sight we left very befuddled.  Definitely worth your $6 if you find yourself in Kampala.  The group is called the Ebonies and the episode (yes, the shows are episodes with continuing stories) was called “Enslaved by Love”.
Our second day was comparably tame.  We walked through the most massive and crowded local market I have ever witnessed to end up at the Gadaffi mosque at the centre of the city.  Women are allowed to tour the mosque (with skirts and covered heads of course!) so we rented some scarves and toured the third largest mosque in Africa.  The crown jewel of the tour (and the part that has a cost) is the 40metre minaret you can climb to get a view of the entire city. 
On the way home we stopped for soft serve to beat the heat and happened upon the grand opening of a lovely little bakery.  You cannot understand the significance of handmade multi-grain loaves until you have been in Africa long enough to realize that their equivalent of wonderbread (Don’t say bread – say SUPA LOAF!) is all that is available and painfully dry.  I digress.  I approached the manager and asked how one could get an invitation to the swanky looking opening and we were invited to join them***.  We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with the ambassador to the US, bakery owners and arrogant, embittered coffee businessmen while sipping free wine and champagne, eating free cheeses and fancy hors d’oeurves and left with a handwoven basket full of fresh baked goods.  Oh, the life.
Now we are back in Nairobi to say goodbye to friends and spend three days tracking animals in Maasai Mara.  elephants – here I come!
*This is Africa.  Self-explanatory?
**Storyline example:  man in his 40s tries to seduce a 16 year old high school student by dressing like one himself.  They turn the adorable song “16 going on 17” from the Sound of Music into something wrong in so many ways.  Then he gets her back to his house where she promptly reveals that she isn’t a school girl, puts on her hooker uniform and cons him out of a giant wad of cash when his wife discovers them.
***I am just going to say it:  we were invited in because we were white.  Africa works like that.  Not to say there weren’t any Africans at the opening but there were significantly more white people and all kinds of embassy officials (it was a Dutch-Ugandan partnership).  Sadly, white skin gets you a special status here (and higher prices for everything) – it is the first time in my life that the colour of my skin really seems to matter and it bothers me.

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