Sunday 6th March
It’s 5 days since we arrived in Kampala. I am currently sitting on the veranda of the house we are staying at, drinking a Tusker. Its been a pretty full on week and I feel its a very well deserved beer. One of the big challenges I anticipated on arrival was knowing what order to do things in logically on arrival…. For example; we need the following things: House, Car, Internet (No not because I am addicted to my phone but because I do still have to work whilst I am here) Furniture, open a bank account, get a local sim card etc etc. I hoped that everything would just slip into some sort of logical order, and in some way it is.
On Wednesday morning I woke up to the beautiful sound of birdsong. So many different choruses all together. The sun was streaming in and it was hot. Very hot. No time to waste; after some much needed Ugandan coffee we were off to view houses around the Kansanga area of town. Nothing quite hit the spot but if gave us a good point of reference. Next stop the MTN shop in Kabalagala where we registered for a MTN sim and topped up. Having a local phone number was definitely a priority. Now we could call agents about houses, I could do work online and we could build up some contacts.
Thursday morning I started work. Promptly at 7.45am. Thrown into the deep end I didn’t really know what was going on but everyone was very friendly and I feel like it went well. I have my own little office and I was quickly introduced to my students. Its all very new for me but I enjoyed my first morning at work. I’d set up some house viewings with a random agent called Denis. He picked us up from School and off we went towards Muyenga. To cut a long story short we have found a house and fingers crossed moving in tomorrow. We had a firm idea about what kind of house we wanted..one of the key things was being in a self contained plot. It is this that we have compromised on. This house has the most incredible view over Kampala. We were sold on this quickly. We are suckers for a good view. After some discussion we decided we could compromise on sharing a compound for the view. The view was our red line and this didn’t disappoint.
The house comes unfurnished so we figured the next logical step was some basic items of furniture ready to move in asap. But how could we get this furniture without a car! Luckily Kim (who we’re staying with) loaned us one of his cars and we set about the last 2 days shopping. We visited South African import Game for a mattress, carpenter street (Ggaba road, across from the American embassy in more literal terms) for some outdoor furniture (aka my desk/our dining table) and the Facebook Kampala expat page for a fridge and possibly a bed frame. We researched the best internet company and took advantage of Vodafone’s latest special offer and invested in a kettle and cafetiere. Top priority! TBC
Tuesday 8th March
Finally, we have access to the new house. When we met the landlord William to look around we pointed out a few things we wanted doing before we moved in. ‘No problem, no problem’ he told us. Next thing we knew he’d decided to completely repaint the entire house. Include the metalwork outside! I could see this was not going to be done by Sunday – our planned moving day. Yesterday we hoped it would be ready..but alas still know. We traipsed back to Kim’s… ‘Hi Kim…we’re still here!’
William gave me the keys so that we could bring our stuff up as we liked so this morning bright and early we arrived with a car load. Working around the painters (who bizarrely all seem to paint in just their boxers) I moved all of our stuff into the house and organised for it to be cleaned. Meanwhile Alex has gone off with Mark (who we are buying a car from) to the mechanics as the car needed some work before we were willing to buy it. Cars are really expensive here. So we’re buying a Toyota Rav 4, 3 door (tiny little thing) 1997 model. Old school. Nearly as old as my ‘classic’ Ford Escort. In the Uk this would be dirt cheap but here its worth anything for £2250-£3000 a pop. As the car had a few minor problems we didn’t want to buy it until we were sure it was good mechanically. Hopefully we can pick it up in the next few days. Life without a car in Kampala is quite challenging, its a big city and public transport is matatas (little white mini buses = chaos) or boda bodas (motorbike taxis). We’ve been on the back of a lot of bodas in the passed week but its definitely not the safest mode of transport that’s for sure!
So after much back and forth we are moved in. I say moved in..we came with 2 back packs and a dog cage so its not exactly much to move in. However we are unpacked,it even feels a bit homely. We have some great garden furniture and even some bunting and fairy lights up. I love my new office (see above) and I think i’m going to enjoy work a whole lot more when i’m doing it with this view!
So it is the end of our first week, its been pretty hectic, we’ve achieved a lot but hardly stopped! Uganda is both different and the same as to how I remember it from 6 years ago. It’s hotter, more developed, and there are a lot more guns than I remember. It’s as friendly if not more friendly than I remember and Kampala is much prettier (up in the hills anyway) than I remember. I’m excited to get to know this bustling and thriving city better. Next step is the car and then hopefully some exploration and more furniture. Tomorrow is my Grandma’s funeral back in the UK. I am feeling really sad that I can’t be there tomorrow and will be thinking of all the family. Tomorrow is the day we are due to get our car so we’ve decided to name it in honour of Grandma Berly!
Roll on week 2. Goodnight x