On Wednesday evening Erica had yet another meeting downtown, so we stayed at Café Pap for dinner; an unfortunate name for a restaurant but they make wonderful coffee. The end result was that we found ourselves in the van crawling home in typical Kampala bumper to bumper traffic. Vehicles inched along as boda bodas (motorcycles) wove in and out carrying their load of passengers. Boda bodas are the fastest, although not the safest, form of transport in Kampala. They can carry several passengers at a time. Women in skirts sit side saddle and we have seen women casually texting as they perch precariously on the back of a weaving, lurching boda boda. There are also bicycle versions but although cheaper they are not as fast.
The power was out in much of the city as we drove home so candles, fires and kerosene lamps provided the only lights, lending a Dantesque quality to the neighborhoods. Kampala spreads across several hills. As we inched slowly along the hillside we could look out across the city. A haze of smoke from cooking fires and exhaust shrouded the city.
In Canada we neatly partition our neighborhoods according to socio-economic class. Not so in Kampala. Plots of land filled with tiny ephemeral huts snuggle up against solid, walled and gated upper crust homes. The high brick and plaster walls are topped with shards of glass or coils of razor wire. The gates, as is the gate to the Niteo compound, are solid metal with little doors that can be opened for people. You cannot see inside the compounds from the road. In many places small homes and shops have been constructed between the roadway and the walls. This is how most of the people live, trying to eke out a living selling used clothing and bits of food. Within a minute we might pass a gated mansion, an acre or so crammed with huts and people, a plot of garden with banana trees and sweet potato, and then another walled and gate home lined on the outside with small shops.
I was mentally exhausted by the time we reached home. Kampala provides a constant source of stimulation.