Monday, 19 September 2016

Matooke Times, Vol 1: Here we go again!

Well, it sure is a weird mixture of surreal and comfort being back in Uganda! I arrived safely Sunday afternoon after a series of long-ish flights, and immediately made my way to Jinja. 

I have to say, it was pretty spectacular to be greeted by a familiar face at the airport in the form of my favourite method of transport to Jinja - the Pineapple Express! (Cue MIA's Paper Airplanes while thinking of James Franco and Seth Rogan... as if there's ever a time that one is NOT thinking about those two!) The only thing better than knowing my transport was handled, was being additionally greeted by a beautiful Ugandan rainfall! And, for those of you outside of Canada - this was a welcomed sight after not seeing much of it in Canada all summer!

Given that I hadn't slept much on any of the planes (with the best sleep taking place on the 2-hour flight from Ethiopia to Uganda, and NOT the one from Toronto to Ethiopia!), I had many nod-offs along the nearly 3 hour drive from Entebbe to Jinja. The best was nodding off somewhere along the way, only to wake up in Mabira Rainforest - also known as, my favourite part of the drive to Jinja, which also happens to be sandwiched between tea estates! But, it was really interesting to be able to spot new developments and things that had changed - and man! Somethings had really changed!

My night in Jinja was pretty low-key. I looked at a few potential places of residence, and of course, indulged in the sweet, sweet tastes of Stoney* and pork! Oh Jinja pork joint, if you were in human form, I would have your babies! But I digress...

Monday started earlier than I had hoped. I had, had a fairly good sleep, but was awoken around 5:30 am to a couple of sirs speaking loudly in the lobby of the guesthouse. Then around 7 I heard thunder in the distance and knew I needed to get a move on if I was going to get to the taxi park before it began to rain. I was thankful to have arrived and just boarded a coaster** to Kampala as the rain began to fall. 

After another drive filled with dozing off and on, I arrived in Kampala just as the rain began to fall heavily there. My pal - and boda driver - Adolf, met me where I was dropped, and we caught up while waiting for the rain to die down in a bank ATM kiosk. Then we made our way to my former place of employment - the Food Rights Alliance office. 

A few of the old crew at FRA headquarter.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the office I learned half of my former colleagues had left the day before for a field visit. But it was still nice to catch up with and surprise the few that were around! Seriously, I wish I had been filming the reactions of two individuals in particular, because they obviously had no idea I was back in town! And after lunch (which included my favourite Ugandan food item - mattock!) with the gang, I made my way to Ggaba where I'll be staying for the next several days. 

A good Ugandan lunch, matched with some Dartmouthian coffee - sadly my first of the day...
It was really nice to be able to catch up with a few folks and to see some familiar sights around the city. I have to say its been quite strange to be back in Uganda. I think this is partly because in someways it feels like I've never left, while on the other hand it feels like it has been a very long time since I was last here. It is also likely the result of this theoretical project coming to life after months of talking about making it happen. But despite the moments of surreal-ness, it's pretty wonderful to be back. 

I have a pretty busy week ahead, and I'll be sure to update you as I go. But until then, I want to say a big thank you to everyone that has sent thoughts and well wishes over the last couple of days. I am one pooped/jet-lagged puppy!

Sula bulungi,
-the Orange Canadian

*I don't even care that you're a Coca Cola product! ...too much. 
**A safer version of taxi.

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