Friday, February 13, 2009

A Humble Abode

Believe it or not, when I arrived in Uganda, I didn't have a place to stay. That is to say, I hadn't settled on a hostel or made any reservations. The Lonely Planet Guide had some places that sounded good, but I didn't have a sense of whether they would be close to the hospital.

As luck would have it, my taxi driver from the Entebbe airport was knowledgable about the Nysambya neighbourhood. He told me that none the places on my shortlist were within walking distance and when I asked him if he knew of a hostel that would be convenient for a girl working at the hospital, he said, "Of course!" And so, he brought me to the Cardinal Nsubuga Leadership Training Centre (CANLET). When I hopped out of the taxi, Walter, the gatekeeper greeted me warmly and showed me into the reception desk. The centre turned out to be CARITAS run joint used to house students, seminarians, priests, nuns, and the occassional traveller. There are many people who live here permaneantly and others who are here attending workshops.

Carol the manager, showed me a few rooms to choose from. After my second night, I realized that my choice of a roadfacing room had been a poor one. The noise of barking dogs and honking mototaxis was endless. So, I was happily moved into slightly smaller, quieter digs. My current room is lovely and includes 2 beds, a desk, and a basin for washing clothes (or feet). The bathrooms here are dorm style, with shower stalls and flush toilets. It's very basic. Some mornings there is hot water, most mornings there is only cold, occassionally there has been none.

There is an internet "cafe" attached to the hostel (at the moment I'm sitting in front of a computer, but writing this blog into my notebook as the electricity just went out without warning. The internet connection is reminicent of 1996. That's life here.

I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this place. Becuase I'm a longer term guest, they gave me a break on the rate (30,000 shillings or about $15 a night, including breakfast.) Breakfast consists of tea, bread, a hard boiled egg, and a slice of pineapple or banana. For dinner we usually have mashed banana, rice, and some sort of meat with sauce. The banana mash is growing on me and the rest is pretty tastey.

A small outdoor bar provides a spot to have a drink and hang out with the priests or other travellers. Most of the travellers have not been Muzungus although there have been a few. Cilas, a Sudanese refugee now living in Australia passed through a few days ago. He told me that it had been his first trip home to Sudan in ten years. Beatrice, a medical student from the Demogratic Repulic of the Congo was on her way back to school in St. Petersburg. She said that the road home had been dangerous, but she was well protected by the machine gun mounted on the roof of her vehicle.

The walk to work only takes about ten minutes in the morning. lus, there are several schools located along the way. My comings and goings provide much entertainment for the kids. "Muzungu! How are you!"It's a pretty fun way to start the day.

So, it's a humble abode, but all that I require. The built-in circle of friends is a terrific bonus.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you found a good place to stay! Sounds like you're meeting lots of interesting people too and I love hearing you describe them. Looking forward to lots of details about the wedding today!