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Made it!

posted Jul 3, 2012, 11:40 AM by jj pionke
What a whirl wind two days!  The flights were a bit bumpy but largely uneventful.  I slept/dozed most of the way from Singapore to Jo'burg South Africa.  My luggage appears to have been rifled through in South Africa and a cheap cell phone I bought for use here was stolen.  sigh.  Otherwise, I can report that the Jo'burg airport was quite comfortable for the 5 hours that I was there.  Got here to Uganda around 730pm local time.  Harriet the taxi driver and my roommate were waiting for me!  YAY!  We met up with the PHD student in Anthropology and one of the archive workers at a place called Red Rooster.  The food was ok but it took hours to get to us and everyone commented that this was abnormal.  sigh.  I got two mosquito bites (glad I started malaria pills on Friday!).

The apt is in a walled, gated, and barb wired compound.  The building is basically inhabited by UN workers and us and that is it.  The place is clean, very nice, furnished.  Since I got here in the middle of the night I couldn't see or tell what the surrounding community is like.  I didn't sleep well (leg cramps and er many bathroom visits - normal, not bad!) and heard the cock crowing at 4am.  When daylight finally came up and I woke up for the last time, it's a different world.  The dirt here is red.  Very few of the roads are actually paved.  Out the front door of what I would call our 3rd floor apt, I can see many houses/shacks.  It's pounded earth and some small vegetable patches here and there.  There are chickens, ducks, and goats.  I can see Lake Victoria and large hills in the distance.  There are palm trees and birds of many sorts.  Entebbe is a fairly well off area because of the growing UN presence.  With that said, what my eyes see is a place that is poor, even though by standards here, it is not.  Prices are higher for foreigners of course, but still, somethings are incredibly cheap and some things aren't.  This apt is not cheap.  The per month rent is on par with what I would pay in Ann Arbor.  Food from the market is so cheap - 15 finger bananas, 2 large mangos, and 2 large avocados were 5000 shillings which is about USD$2.  Here is a picture of an avocado in my hand:

Avocado in Uganda

Besides getting some groceries and household goods, the roomie and I also got internet and cell phones and sorted out the rent.  There was a bit of drama because they would not take American 100 bills that were made before 2006.  We had to find a moneychanger that would take them and then negotiate with the landlord here to accept the rent in half shillings and half USD.  We also went to the archive and met various people in charge, all of whom were really nice.  In about an hour I was able to successfully negotiate the priority for the team and how we would go about doing things as well as an evaluation schedule.  The anthropologist said that I did incredibly well.  It's a delicate thing - I don't want to sound like the know it all American telling people what to do.  Tomorrow is the first real day of work.  The roomie and I are meeting the Anthropologist for breakfast and then we are trooping over to the archives to get started.  Also, did I mention there are wild monkeys that live here?  This monkey is as close as you think she is -  about 4 feet or so:

Monkey sitting about 4ft away from me

Fair warning, no pictures will be posted to Flickr unless I find better arrangements.  Internet is not included here so I am paying for it by the gigabyte.  Also, while this internet is quite fast, I can't imagine how long it would take with the pictures I have already taken to upload.  That said, I will try to post one or two on the blog posts and when I get back to the US, I do will do a massive Flickr upload.

Here is a view from my balcony of Lake Victoria.

View of Lake Victoria from apt