Thirty-six hours of travel and I’m finally in Kampala, Uganda. I’m rotating at Mulago Hospital through Makerere University College of Health Sciences for the next four weeks. There are 3 other DMU students here this month and medical students and residents from all over the world training at Mulago.
My plane landed in Entebbe and I can’t think of any airport arrival more breathtaking. We walked down the stairs onto the tarmac in the middle of the green hills dotted with terra cotta roofs. After immigrations and customs, I found James, the driver sent to pick up students, and we headed to Kampala. On a two lane road, you have three or four modes of transportation in one lane each way and congestion is an understatement – cars and trucks, bota botas (motorcycle drivers that rent the extra one or two seats), bicyclists and pedestrians all in one lane and the shoulder. The colors and smells overwhelmed me. Tiny eight-foot by eight-foot rooms with a roof line both sides of the road and house the businesses of tailors, sandals being fashioned from old tires, airtime card sales, chipati bread (tasty local take-away sandwich), Rolexes, auto oil sales – you name it. If you can sell it, there is a small building for it. There are also lots of brick buildings being built that are two or three stories and, if you look into the city centers, taller 20-30 story shiny buildings live among the banks and ground level vendors.
The road from Entebbe blends into the road to Kampala – it was hard to tell where Entebbe ended and Kampala began. After dropping off my suitcase at NUFU House on Makerere’s campus, James took me to the medical school offices on Mulago Hospital grounds. NUFU is a five-bedroom house on university grounds. We each have a room with a desk and bed with mosquito net. We share three bathrooms, and the NUFU caretaker/office manager Margaret serves toast, coffee and fresh mango or watermelon juice every morning for breakfast. Depending on the day, samosas, banana bread or boiled eggs are also served. It’s a nice way to get to know my house mates.
I was able to take in a little bit of Kampala on Saturday and tagged along with a housemate to a coffee shop that ended up not having wifi but did have the most wonderful coffees and smoothies. We had lunch out and it was the most amazing Indian food I’ve ever had. After that we trekked to the Baha’i Temple and I learned a lot about their faith It’s a very beautiful and peaceful belief system. There is one temple on each continent and the African Temple is here. On the walk home, we stocked up on water and some fruits and veggies – jack fruit is the strangest fruit I’ve come across and it’s a delicious flavor blend of slight banana and mango. Saturday was certainly a day of acclimation and soaking in the city.