Today we got up about 8 again, we are apparently getting tired and used to the time zone we’re in. After moving a little slower than normal we made our way out of Red Chilli, went down the street and caught a matatu again into town, this time without having to wait very long at all. We rode it into downtown until we saw the Barclay’s bank we had taken shelter in yesterday, at this point we knew where we were so we had the matatu let us off as soon as we could get them to stop. We headed “down”, literally, a few blocks to the food market which we had skipped yesterday. There are two food markets really, one outside on the street and the other just across the street, still outside, but surrounded by walls so it feels like you walked inside something for a bit. The one outside has a lot of fruit and fruit waste on the ground around the outskirts of the little market and it reeks. We decided we would much rather smell fish, warm meat, possibly even cheese over rancid orange peels – that is an aroma.
So we made our way into the food market across the street “inside”. It is fairly tight on space, but not nearly as busy as the large market from yesterday, and is just as interesting. Most all of the vendors were very friendly and chatted with us about their different foods. We learned what cow liver looks like and cow hearts and what to call cow heart in luganda, “seagulls”, which I’m sure is not spelled that way. The market is a big square with rows through the centre as well. All of the meat vendors, fish, beef, goat, chicken are all on the outside walls along with a few folks actually cooking up food for sale. You can find all of the fruit, veggies, and spices in the inside rows. As soon as we got into the market there was a spice guy who was VERY excited to have us come and see his spices, we told him we would get there and a bit later we did. He ended up selling me a mixed packet of spices for 7,000. When I offered him that price, after much haggling, I saw his eyes light up and I knew I was overpaying – foiled again. After walking around the rest of the market I found essentially the same spices, marked for sale at 2,000, oh well, he was entertaining to say the least. He can use the extra cash. We’re not even sure that we can bring it back across our border when we get home and we explained this to the spice guys, but we’ll try and smuggle it home with some other things we find I’m sure. I am finding it a little annoying that just as we start to figure out what we should be paying for things in a country, or city, we move on to the next one. This time at least we have a few more days in Kampala to get better bargains and pay appropriately. Lindsay bought a few oranges and apples which we’ll take with us for the car ride tomorrow to Murchison Falls National Park.
To end our time in the market we went back to the fish guys and learned about the fish in Lake Victoria, a lot of Tilapia, and talked about the trout in our lakes back home. They were very friendly and genuinely wanted to chat. On the way out of the market we passed the chicken vendors which had their chickens partly stuffed and displayed on top of some deep freezers, not in them of course as they are most likely not on. I went to take a picture of the one guy’s chicken but he was very adamant that I did not. The chicken lady directly across the entrance apparently was fine with me taking pictures and another fellow in the market translated for me telling me that, so I thankfully took a photo of salmonella poisoning at work! While there I also bought some little sweet bananas for breakfast and then ate a few more while walking around all day, then started pawning them off on people; a couple of vendor women at the craft market, and then I gave the rest to a woman on the street with kids, homeless, maybe, needing them, for sure.
After leaving the food market we headed up the hill through downtown to the craft markets. On the way there we passed what appears to be the electronics district, where every single store we passed was owned and operated by an Indian, not a single African – it is interesting to see which groups of people have the money in different parts of the world. It has also been interesting, particularly in Kampala, to see how the shops are all grouped together, downtown at least, by type of shop; electronics, fabric, food, generators, exchange bureaus, they are always all in the same place. This definitely makes it easy as a consumer to go find what you want and haggle for a great price, however from a business man’s side it is a horrible idea to have 24 other electronic stores right beside you. You’d think they would spread them around so that you could grab all the business in an area where there are no electronic shops ?
Along the way to the market we stopped at Antonio’s for lunch as it was the closest place talked about in the guide book. It is a pseudo fast food joint, but they have waiters – think 50s diner from back home put into Africa without the 50s decorations, but run the same way. The special today was chips and chaps, which is apparently fries and minced chicken meat that is battered and deep fried. It comes to you in a kind of loose fluffy patty form and is quite tasty if extremely bad for you 😉
After our somewhat quick, but local lunch we headed to the craft markets. It was a disappointing shop. All of the stalls were of course selling pretty much exactly the same thing and they really did not budge on prices much (after shopping in Kenya it turns out I would have paid asking price in Uganda for everything!). We did get some cool looking painted cards (discovered they were just glossy prints when we got home though) that we’ll frame when we get home and a pai of earrings for Lindsay that I’ll give her on her birthday in a week or so. (only cost me 50 cents too). Following our shop we were thirsty so Lindsay wanted to stop at 1000 cups coffee for a bathroom break and a drink. Don’t go here unless you want to spend Starbucks prices in Africa, it is very expensive and does not put out an African vibe but instead an unfortunate Starbucks vibe. That being said don’t go to Starbucks either you’re wasting money. Lindsay ended up getting a milkshake and I refused to spend that much on anything in Africa and used the bathroom instead. Her milkshake was made with real thick, possibly cream, milk and did not taste like it was pasteurized, so it was a farm fresh milkshake by all accounts.
Bladder emptied we began our adventure to find a bank on this side of downtown. After walking a little while and not finding a Stanbic anywhere we decided to head north to the one on our map. It was a long, hot walk more or less up hill before we finally reached a professional business building out in the side streets amongst a bunch of consulates that had an ATM just inside of it. It of course rejected Lindsay’s card. I was able to get out one transaction, but we still needed more money for the safari tomorrow so we were still needing to go to another Stanbic somewhere. Our long bank walk was somewhat pointless. We did end up passing the Kampala office for World Vision… A bunch of boda drivers had gathered when they saw us head up to the bank so we decided to pay one of them to take the two of us to an art gallery that was sort of nearby. This time I walked up, knowing the average price for a ride, and told him what I had and where I wanted to go, he agreed for the 1,500 I offered him. The gallery was not where we thought it would be and as our driver was heading over towards where he knew it was we decided to not go and head into downtown instead. So we had him stop at a recognizable roundabout near Kampala road and we paid him what I had said and head back down into downtown.
As we headed down into the market district we decided we would take a much needed break and find an internet cafe and do some blogging. We walked into one of the mall like buildings (nothing like you’re thinking a mall is like, more like there is a 3 storey building with a somewhat open centre and there are stores jammed everywhere) up a few flights and found an internet cafe. We sat down and began catching up on this blog. As I was typing a guy tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a piece of paper then walked away. I stopped and read the note. The gist was that he was a somewhat skilled worker looking for an opportunity to come work in my country or wondering if I could help him with making that happen. It included his name and email and I give him kudos for taking initiative and trying to see what he can accomplish, it reminds me of all the marketing I always have to do. I plan on sending him some sponsorship and scholarship links for Canada once I get back home. Finished up our blogging and then we walked back to the big Stanbic we used yesterday and got out what we needed, in multiple transactions of course.
As we came out of the bank there was a boda waiting, of course, so we hopped on one and all three of us took off. We were heading to a restaurant called “The Lawns” to try some game meat of Africa. Our driver of course had absolutely no idea what that was or where it was. We knew from our map that it was in a more upscale neighbourhood of Kampala, called Kisolo, and next to the Burundi consulate so we directed him to take us to the Burundi consulate. After a somewhat long, but nice ride through a new part of Kampala, complete with golf course, we made it to a random walled compound on a street with other walls. We had apparently arrived…at the Chinese consulate. With his broken English we figured out that was where we were and we explained that we wanted the Burundi consulate, not Chinese (because they sound so similar). He turned around and we went back onto a more main road and as we were heading down we saw the restaurant on our left and directed him towards it. Our driver wanted more money because we had to drive farther, which was of course his fault, but I threw in an extra thousand I think which really doesn’t hurt me and helps him more.
The Lawns is swank. We entered into their nicely walled compound and were instantly met by the metal detector and the security guard doing a bag search. They scanned us through and barely looked in my bag and we continued on up the path to the beautiful restaurant which is set up over looking their garden area where you could also decide to sit for drinks and food. The main seating area is open faced and wraps around a corner with nice decorations, well dressed waiters, and of course very well dressed customers, well except for us. We knew this place was expensive but we were out all day and couldn’t really travel back to change clothes and then come here again so we went, all sweaty, dusty, and wearing shorts and t shirts. We felt a tad out of place, but we were there for a purpose to try really expensive game meat. We got a seat and ordered some much needed water for 3 times the price of everywhere else). Now, an average dinner at a fairly nice place like Tuhende from yesterday is about 20,000 a person, a local place like Antonios cost us 8,000 each and street food is about 2,000. Lawns started at about 48,000 per person and it wasn’t for much food either. We decided to split a sample game meat tray for 59,000 and then we added on some mashed potatoes for another 4, 000. There was 2 ounces each of Springbok, Blesbok, Impala, and Crocodile. We both liked Springbok the best and would have that regularly if it was available, it tastes like a leaner steak with more interesting flavour. Blesbok and Impala were similar but fattier and not quite as nice in flavour. Crocodile, although good, is extremely fatty and felt a lot like eating a pork chop. Overall it was a great food experience to try these things and it was the sole reason why we had come here – even if it cost us 80,000 UGX for not very much, or to be honest not very good food aside from the meat. Tuhende Safari Lodge is the place to go for food so go there if you don’t want to spend 3 to 4 times the amount at Lawns. If you’re loaded and don’t care, well….
It was just getting dark so we figured we could save some money not getting a taxi and grab our third tandem boda ride for the day, back to Red Chili. The ride did end up being half in the dark as the sun sets quickly here and was once again a somewhat life threatening experience. We did manage to make it back safe and sound and the driver, as per usual, wanted more money than we had agreed upon at the start. This time we knew what he should be getting so didn’t give him another shilling even though he continued his whine of “muzungu you rob me” which is solely a play to guilt you into shelling out more. Back inside we settled up the bill for our nights at Red Chili and paid the rest for the Safari tomorrow. On another note, there had been a miscommunication with the front desk and we were not actually booked to stay tonight and they went into our room mid day expecting us to be gone. Red Chili is however fairly smart and has good customer service so they did some maneuvering and figured out how to keep us there and NOT kick us out of a room we were already in and had been for days. Much appreciated, and even though it was their mistake since we were obviously staying until the safari departed, they have some good customer service in making sure everyone had a room and was happy for the night.
When we walked back into the common area we saw Amber again and we were all excited to meet up again. Also, miracle of all miracles, she had my hoodie with her! Apparently after talking to a few people and then the next day finding the laundry lady at the hostel in Kigali she was led to a pseudo lost and found where my hoodie was awaiting her. I was very excited to get that back especially since I now knew I would need it on a few cold nights here in Africa. While relaxing for the rest of the evening we munched on some chapati from the kitchen and chatted with James from Ireland who is also going on the Safari tomorrow with his teenage son. Currently he’s working in Kampala with an NGO that he comes down to work with every year for the last decade or more. Tomorrow is Murchison Falls Safari so now it’s time for bed and packing up then off we go for another new adventure!
Toilets = Good