A focus on eye candy (or not)

21 04 2011

Sorry that it has been a while, but perhaps I can convince you with this argument: I would like to convey a lesson in empathy with the biggest lesson I am learning at this time: PATIENCE. The refrain that runs through my mind like the chorus of an earworm is: HURRY UP AND WAIT.

We spent Monday to Wednesday in and around the capital city, Kampala. (maybe a third of that time was spent making our way there and back to Mbale… the traffic takes time.)

Between a few business meetings (one lasting about 4 hours) and waiting at banks (about 1 hour and 20 minutes) and waiting in traffic (priceless??) we realized that something we had eaten was not sitting too well with the rest of our systems and we shared together “in sickness and in health”. The wonderful news is that there are excellent pharmaceutical applications that help. After arriving at a hotel, late on Monday evening, Deon had to complete a presentation to be delivered in Oz at 8 the next morning – which was 2 am here: we shared in the labour to get that ready, between running back and forth a bit too.

A quick insert here: one of the difficulties with the mine here is relations with the Ugandans who own land in the area. For the most part they are simple village people and are not worldly wise. They are being paid quite large amounts for their land. One local wanted to see what this was all about and if the Muzungus could be believed: he went to the bank, withdrew the 30 million shillings (about R100 000) paid into his account, counted it all out and deposited it into his account again. He then withdrew about 2 million, kept it for a day and replaced it in his account. I am still not certain what he learned through this exercise!

There was a chance of respite on Tuesday: after meetings in Kampala, and picking out a variety of things to go into our new house here (which we are not yet in possession of – but it is such fun to spend money!) we headed out to Entebbe. Deon needed to go to the geological offices and in the same road are some of the most wonderful places in Entebbe, and possible in all of Uganda! The Entebbe Botanical Gardens are spread across a swathe of Lake Victoria beach-front, and have massive trees representing the equatorial jungles of Uganda. We stayed in the Botanic Beach hotel, our room was 5 meters from the fence of the gardens and the beauty of the gardens was ours to share. Walking through the gardens of this hotel was restorative and peaceful: it was much needed soul-nourishment.
The odd interior decorating did add too our comic relief. Can you imagine Eton-style austerity mixed with a bad replica of The Lost City’s rock faces? It does seem peculiar but exists! The hallways are incredibly long, with polished wooden floors (yes, we longed to slide down in our socks!) and wooden paneling along the walls. Above that and along the exteriors are badly constructed ancient wall-lookalikes. Mmm. Our room was spacious and comfortable but the bathroom was really entertaining (I will do my best to add the video clip we took.)
There were (sand-blasted glass) divisions between the toilet, shower and bath spaces. The walls were sensibly and cheerily tiled in lime-green, yellow and white tiles: this was a little at odds with the Eton-like hallways, but friendliness in a bathroom (especially after a tummy bug) will cheer one endlessly.) The pinnacle of decorating-bliss, though, was the Las Vegas style red glitter double basin and mirror cabinet filling up the space in the bathroom. I may not be Nate Burkess, but even I could see there was a little problem here.

After the chance to laugh, look (at birds, mainly) and let go a little, we were back on the road through Kampala to Mbale. The dreadful traffic in Kampala, midday on Wednesday, took at least 2 hours to navigate. It was with great relief we arrived back at our home, the rooms of the Mbale Hotel fairly late on Wednesday.

Still to follow: entries about birds seen, names of shops and further wise choices in décor and style learned in the heart of Africa.

Apologies – our camera here is most uninspiring. After our first trip home more and better photos will fill the blog.

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