aBe

Walking in Kampala I

Fri Jun 5, 2009

Today I saw amazing things. This morning we wanted to go to the shopping center to eat and buy some food. The first time I went there a few days ago we walked next to the road. But since it’s full of smoky cars and dust, we wanted to try walking more in a straight line. We were not sure if it was possible, but we tried. So after a few minutes walking we were at the entrance of something like a slum. The people looked at us curiously. We asked them how to get to the shopping center. They recommended to go to the road, but we insisted asking if it was possible to go straight, so they gave some directions. The children were amazing. They had beautiful smiles and repeated “hello how are you” again and again. Some waved, like happy to see someone from another planet. I smiled and waved back.

 This area we crossed was not flat, but quite steep, going up and then down. We walked in red dirt ground surrounded by places where people lived. Some were made of custom made tiles, others with pieces of old or burned wood and metal. The ground was very irregular, and sometimes covered with a some trash or goat faeces. In two places a weak stream of blue / green water crossed our way, descending between the constructions. Goats and chicken walked around free.

 When entering this area we had to stop and ask a woman what she was doing. She sat outdoors in a stool, next to a big black barrel placed on top of a fire. Out of this barrel came a tube, connected to some kind of glass bottle. She explained she was creating some alcoholic beverage, by distillation. We were shocked, as we had seen the most amazing thing ever.

 One person quickly decided to help us cross the labyrinth and walked in front of us during a minute or two. Another young guy wanted us to stay, and wanted to shake Miquel’s hand, which he did. There were many people walking, sitting or standing. Living there. There were some tiny businesses, for example a movie shop, which consisted of a wood box which contained the owner, and the back wall covered with recorded dvd’s. There was a business for recharging car batteries. Another for recharging cell phone batteries. Probably some of the people get electricity, so they provide those services. Some had a few fruits or tomatoes to sell in a small table.

 Maybe we crossed this place in 15 minutes, but it felt like hours, like a journey through a different world. This place is just 3 minutes away from our house with green grass, several bathrooms, and food in the fridge.

 It feels sad to think that this miniature town can be demolished and people can be kicked out of their homes when someone decides to construct nice houses in that area.

 When we began getting out of that place, I saw a expensive car entering that area, where people had what they wore, and not much more. Motorbike drivers started honking and stopping next to us, asking if we needed a drive. This happens all the time when we walk around.

 A few minutes later we were in the shopping center where we had an exquisite fish, while we talked about what we had just seen. This contrast of different worlds just meters away is surprising. The fact that this people living in such conditions are friendly to two foreigners with money to decide where they want to live is also surprising.

Categories: text Tags: observations adventure Places: uganda

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