Chris and I had finally arrived! I was in Uganda, and I’m pleased to say that the Uganda airport was significantly superior than our previous stop. We made our way to the customs desk, where we were each granted a 3 month visa (despite asking for significantly less) by a very happy Ugandan man. We each paid our $50 fee and made our way to baggage claim, where we were met by Collin. Collin and Chris immediately knew each other, hugging and happily carrying on. Collin and I introduced ourselves. We found our baggage, and headed out to the taxi that Collin had already negotiated for.
I immediately noticed how beautifully green Uganda is. Our drive from the airport lasted about an hour, as we wove through the capital city, which was actually a collection of many smaller cities immediately upon one another, similar to the Denver Metro. The scenery was so exciting. There were people everywhere, and everything was painted a bright color. In my opinion, Uganda looks just like Africa should. Vendors and shops are constant, with their products on display in front of their buildings. Traffic in Uganda is interesting, to say the least, and scary at times. More concerning than the apparent lack of respect for signs, lane markers and general driving etiquette are the boda-bodas, which zip around like mosquitoes. These are small motorcycles that ferry passengers about town as a taxi service, but weave between cars and pass on both the left and the right of any traffic that might be in their way. We made one stop, popping into a currency exchange place, where I changed $200 US to 530,000 Ugandan Shillings. We jumped back in the taxi, and kept on our journey through the city.
We arrived at Jesus House, just after dark, and the gate was dutifully opened after we knocked on it a few times. Jeffrey, the gate keeper and one of the custodians of the property, took us to the apartment over the office area, and then we met Barbara. Barbara is a lady who works at Jesus House (which is where the Kyampisi Childcare Ministry (KCM) is headquartered). She showed us where we would stay, and made sure we were settling in. Soon, three young smiling faces came to the two-bedroom apartment, and I was introduced to Georgie, Malaika and Peace. These three were staying at the Jesus House with Barbara as their caretaker for the time being. I immediately recognized Georgie from Chris and Courtney’s Facebook postings and blog. Chris and I put our luggage down, and played with the kids for a bit. They were so happy and clingy, wanting to be in constant contact with either Chris or me, climbing on us if we sat, or holding our hands and arms if we were up. Soon, Chris suggested that we head out and find some supper.
Collin drove us to a shopping area near Jesus House, and dropped us off. Chris first walked me to a "supermarket", which was a well-stocked grocery store. As I would learn was common, we were met at the door to the store by a security guard, use wanded us with a metal detector. Hearing a couple beeps by our pockets, he touched what he must have correctly determined to not be weapons, and waived us into the store. Later in the trip, I would eventually learn that they are primarily concerned with bombs, not personal weapons, as if you are permitted to carry a firearm, you just leave it at the door with the guard, similar to the coat and bag check also available at the entrance to all of the larger stores. We walked through, and I could immediately tell that nearly anything I could want or need was available. This included ice cream sold by the scoop, or soft-serve (not sure if this would meet the safe eating rules set forth for Americans), and a large bakery counter with a wonderful selection of all sorts of breads and treats. Chris and I each bought a chocolate muffin, and completed our tour of the store. We then went upstairs, and looked through what I would have called the Housewares section. We saw everything from TVs, home stereos and other electronics, to stoves and ranges, refrigerators and other home appliances. The prices were not exorbitant by American standards, but most Ugandans would find these to be a luxury, or unattainable. We left, and Chris took me to where he thought we should have supper: Mr. Tasty.
This was every bit of a chicken house that could have been on any corner in America. We ordered at the counter, sat and waited for our number to be called. I ordered a two piece fried chicken plate, which came with chips (French fries) and coleslaw (not on the acceptable food list), and a bottle of Coke, for 7000 Ugandan shillings (less than $3 US). We found a table and soon our food was ready. We ate what was a normal meal for Americans and Ugandans alike. The meal came with ketchup and chili sauce packets. The ketchup was like ours, and I would welcome the chili sauce to our standard condiment list. I ate everything but the coleslaw, and we took a taxi home. This taxi was different than the car from the airport. This was a minivan that stayed at the stop until it had all 14 passenger seats filled, which was a short wait, and then drove a route as a city bus would, sans the maps or any indication of where it was going. The driver just drove, which was plenty to occupy him, and there was a conductor seated by the sliding door to manage the stops and payments. We reached the Jesus House, paid our 1500 Ugandan Shilling fare ($0.60 US), and made entry to the compound when Jeffrey unlocked and opened the gate.
We started to settle in to for the night, when I realized that I did not have a mosquito net, which is “required” for sleeping in Uganda, and this entire region of Africa. Chris told me that he did not have one either, and would find one tomorrow. I, however, was not feeling great about this idea, so Chris sent me to the house attached to the office area, where Barbara and the kids were living for the time being. I knocked on the door, getting no answer. I saw that the kids were jumping and dancing in the bedroom on the side of the house, and I waved at them. They waved back, but didn’t seem to get that I was trying to get somebody to open the door. I knocked again, still with no answer. So then I walked nearer the window, and the three kiddos pressed their noses on the windows and again waved. I saw that Barbara was there also, laying down facing away from the window, not having any idea that I was there. I gently knocked on the window, which sent Barbara about four feet into the air. I apologized, which only slightly calmed Barbara. She was able to provide me with a mosquito net, which I dutifully used every night. I headed back to the apartment, locked the gate on the doorway with the provided padlock, and slept very well. God had blessed the long journey to Uganda, and I was so pleased to have arrived safely, and to have a very comfortable and safe place to sleep.