Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ugly Bugs

One of the many bugs here in Uganda. I have never seen a place with so many insects!


A lot of you have asked me to try and describe what it is like to live here on a daily basis. So, I did the series on transportation and now I will try and give you a picture of what it is like to shop here for our daily needs.

Forget nice grocery stores, Walmarts, Targets, shopping malls etc.... Instead of nice fresh refrigerated, cold clean produce we have open air markets. Instead of freshly cut meat, cold and clean we have pieces of animals hanging in the open cut with rusty dirty knives and covered with flies. They have no idea how to cut meat into certain pieces either. Forget asking for a rib eye or a t-bone because they are just going to hack a piece off and give you whatever piece they cut. Could be grissel and bone with little or no meat and it will all be the same price. Instead of clean organized department stores filled with brand new clothes, we have piles of clothes on the ground that are used and people walk on.

There are a couple of chain stores from South Africa here in Uganda to shop at. One is Game which is like a Walmart sort-of and Shoprite which is a grocery store. The only issue with both stores is that they are small and everything is imported from S.A. so things are very expensive. It would be like having to go to Bloomingdales to buy everything.

I have a open air market about 1 mile from our house that I buy produce and fish from. We walk with our back packs two times a week to buy our fruits and Veggies and if I time it right fresh fish. I have to get there at the right time to catch the fish people bring the whole fish straight in from the lake and fillet it right in front of me otherwise it sits in the sun with flies for hours. The produce sits on the ground and dogs and babies sometime come by and urinate on it. You have to make sure you clean them very good when you get home. We have a fresh milk store right by as well, but you have to make sure you boil it before you drink it. It only lasts for a day even when you boil it. Makes you wonder what it the heck they do to our milk in the states to get it to last so long.
I don't have to negotiate with them at the market anymore as I know the prices of everything and found a lady who knows me now and I give her my list and she gets all of my produce for me at the right price. When they see your white skin the price always triples. I NEVER buy any other meat from that market or any other market in Kampala except for the Belgium meat market.
This place actually has a proper meat cutting facility, clean and refrigerated. Chicken is really expensive here so we normally eat beef. The issue there is that the only cut that is worth eating or that you can chew is the fillet. So, I buy fillet and make pot roast, i grind it and have burgers, cube it for stew, slice it for pepper steak and so on...... It is 8500 shillings per kilo which equals about 2.50 per pound. Chicken is 20,000 per kilo, turkey at Thanksgiving was 30,000 per kilo and a nice cooked ham at Christmas was 30,000 per kilo. I buy the fish fillet at the market for 7,000 per kilo which is right around 2.00 per pound. So you can see why fish and beef fillet win out.
There is a Woolworths here that sells clothes, but they sell ladies underwear for 60,000 shillings per pair, so we never shop there. They have a big flea market called Owino and you go there for clothes and shoes or anything else that you could think of. If you have something stolen from you you can usually find it at Owino and buy it back. They have piles and piles of used clothes. You walk buy and the people yell out how much the pile is per item and then if you are dumb enough to stop for 1 second and look you immediately get a piece of clothing thrown at your face. You have to be in the right frame of mind to go because it is wall to wall people, dirty, smelly and you will be groped (male or female) and proposed to too many times to count. The upside is that sometimes you can get really good deals on things and if you are looking for anything in particular that is the place to find it. Kaci, my middle daughter who is 17 went with me last week. We were both harassed verbally, and physically and she was picked to be 3 men's wife. They tell her all the time that she is very beautiful and just their size. I wondered about that phrase many times and finally asked a Ugandan male friend what that meant. He said because she is tall 5'10 ( blonde and very pretty) that they like her because they are short and they want to improve their gene pool. Owino is always an adventure. I have lots of stories about that place.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ugandan Entertainment

With CHOGM and the New Year came some new man made attractions here in Uganda. Below I have listed the new favorites (or not) and the Oldies... Enjoy!

1. New Bowling Alley. The old one had 3 lanes and looked more like an arcade game than an actual one, but the new one now has 6 lanes and is pretty good. Two thumbs up! The kids all really enjoy it.

2. Ice Skating Rink. I think someone saw the movie, "Cool Runnings" and thought, "Hey, if Jamaica can have a bob sled team than Uganda can have a hockey team." The only problem is that there isn't power to keep the ice cold, the rink is only 20x10, no skates and they don't have a Zamboni. Not to mention that if the temperature drops below 80 degrees most Ugandans are hunting a goose down ski jacket to put on because it is sooo cold. Other than that..... Great Idea:)

3. Drive in Movie Theater. This one is almost as stupid as the Ice Rink. They cantilevered
the screen over a main road on the top of a parking garage. This in itself has scared to death most everyone in Kampala that has either driven or walked underneath it as it looks as if it will fall at any moment. They made the screen to low to be able to see from where you are supposed to park and watch. Since it is on top of the parking garage, no power (do you see a pattern arising out of that one?) and let us not forget that 97% of the population don't have cars:)

4.Traffic lights. The motorists when they first put them in sat and watched for hours as the lights changed from green to yellow to red. This has now gotten old for most people and they now move as the lights change (not necessarily at the right intervals). Occasionally you get a "new comer" that still sits is awe and wonder. We give the lights two thumbs up.

5. Spur Restaurant. This is a fast food chain in South Africa with a Native American Indian Theme. They have A/C when the power is on, an indoor play area for kids with a jumping cage, movie room and computer games. They serve fairly good hamburgers, milkshakes and fries. This place is busy all of the time now and is a huge hit here. Well done! as the English would say or Good on you! as the Australians would say.

That is it for the new attractions. Now on to the oldie's not so sure if they are goodies.

1. Paint Ball. Haven't done this yet, but they say you have to wear full body gear and it gets very hot while playing. Can't rate it until we go.

2. DiDi's World. A RETIRED carnival from Italy. You wondered where all of the old carnival rides go when they retire them? UGANDA. DiDi's World has only had 2 deaths (that we have heard of) since they opened 5 years ago. The park includes the following rides:

3 Water Slides of which 2 work. The stairs to the tower where you then go down the water slide from is made out of metal. In several places on the tower the metal has rusted out and has huge gaping holes. Their solution to this..... cover them with boards. There isn't any person at the top monitoring how many people go down at once or to space them as they go. It is a big free for all. My kids have found that 5 is the limit at one time otherwise they crash into the wall at the bottom when they slide into the pool. This ride causes most of the bruising they come home with.

Octopus Ride. This is the one that you sit in and has the arms like tentacles that spin around. Anyway, one of the arms will come around with people in it and take your head off if you don't duck. You must go with someone who has been before so that you know exactly when to duck. SCARY!

Bumper Cars. The ride lasts for about 15 minutes and for the first 10 the cars are at a very slow speed. The last 5 for some odd reason are super charged. Only a few cars have straps to hold you in, but they actually go around your NECK. So, if you don't want to be choked to death, you pick the ones with no strap. The only issue with this is that if you get hit or hit someone hard enough you can be or you can launch someone straight out of the car. If you manage to stay in the car, you will have whiplash when finished. The only alternative is to pick the 4 cars that don't work at all and sit in them and pretend you are moving around. (people actually do this and have fun)

PlayScape. This is like the ones they have at McDonald's and Chuckie Cheese. You have to be at least 11 to go in and play, but there is only one draw back. As you are crawling through the tunnels or going down the slides you have to watch out for the puddles of urine:( not sure why this is since you have to be 11, but such is the case.

Pirate Ship. You all know this one. Here the guy who operates it will only stop it when someone pukes or screams bloody murder to stop. He then may or may not stop it depending on how he feels that day. The bars that are supposed to go across your lap and keep you from falling out as it rocks sometimes pop up. You have to be really brave to sit at the very back and make sure you hold on tight.

This whole park is on about 3 acres and that includes parking! No OSHA here. So that concludes the man made entertainment for Uganda. Makes you want to book your tickets right now to come and experience it, doesn't it!

International Boda Drivers

In this photo we have 5 different countries represented! USA, Germany/Uganda, England and Australia. This is the boys favorite mode of transportation here. Jesse, our son is the blonde in the blue sweatshirt. For 8,000UG shillings ( $4.75 USD) you can rent a 50cc Boda Boda for 2 hours.

6 Month Anniversary

We have officially been here now for 6 months!
My kids all think that the time has flown by. I think that it has as well although there were spots that seemed to drag on forever.
We are still waiting on our NGO renewal papers and our work visa's (both of which were supposed to be finished in August) TIA!
We are still waiting on the MP to go with us to our property in Nakasongola so that we can start planting and building there. Hopefully he will be able to before Feb., although with the Kenya crisis and the fuel being high, a lot of the government officials have not been back to work since the fuel allowance they get, doesn't cover fuel prices now, so they just stay home. Such a different mentality than we have in the US. We wouldn't think about not showing up for work for a month because it might cost us a few cents in fuel.
Things continue to be in an uproar in Kenya. Killings have continued as well as the destruction of houses, businesses and personal property. It has now spread to other areas that were in the past few weeks untouched. I see now that the some US newspapers and TV stations are now broadcasting what is going on. Keep that country in your prayers. Our friends that were there over Christmas that were able to get out by plane, still have their cars there. They have tried to get them, but the violence and road blocks have prevented it. Please keep them in your prayers as well that they will be able to retrieve their cars soon.
We have some very exciting things on the horizon with our project and will update you as soon as they are concrete....... on a lighter note,
I'll end with a story from a friend here whose work takes him to the Somalia quite often.

He was sent to the Somalia for a week for work. When they were packing up to come back to Uganda, the place where he was working sent him and his team back with bottled water. The two weeks that he was there he had been drinking this same bottled water.
He got back to the airport and pulled out a bottle to drink it and saw something floating in the bottle. He looked closer and it was a solid brown piece of something that resembled chocolate. He was suspicious and took the water in to get in analyzed. What they found as he had suspected was a "floater",23% fecal matter was in the bottle. When I asked him if he had beeen drinking the water all week, he said yes and that he had seen white stuff floating in some of the bottles as well. I think it was toilet paper!

I'll leave you with that picture and your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy 2008 to everyone. Hopefully you all had a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a great start to a brand new year.

Many of you may or may not know what has been going on in Kenya and Uganda over the past 2 weeks.
Kenya had their elections which many people say were rigged and riots broke out all over the country in protest.
Buildings were burned, people stoned, hacked with machetes, gang raped, and shot with bow and arrows. A church full of women and children were locked in and set on fire. Over a quarter million people have been displaced and the dead taken to the hospitals numbered over 450. They still do not have an accurate count of the death toll. Things had cooled down, but riots resumed yesterday and more people were killed and property destroyed.
In Uganda things are peaceful, but we receive our fuel from Kenya, so gasoline has been scarce and in some stations went as high as 20.00 a gallon. The price of fuel has gone down now and it seems as if we have had some trucks get through the border and able to replenish some of the stations, but we are still in a shortage.
We have a guy in Kenya who has been doing a great job blogging about what he is seeing in Kenya. If you want good updates go to his blog at www.dlipparelli.blogspot.com.
Wanted to update everyone that we are OK and safe. Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us and our safety here during this time. Keep those in Kenya lifted up as things are still very volatile.