Your Tax Dollars At Work

Enjoying my dinner at the Lakes restaurant in the Kampala Serena Hotel.

Although I’m writing this from a windowless room in a hostel in downtown Kampala, it was mere hours ago that Kristen and I were lounging in the huge, ridiculously luxurious hotel room that she received as part of a conference she attended, put on by the Canadian Consulate. She was contacted last week and asked whether she would be willing to be a “warden” for Luweero, which basically entails forwarding on safety messages sent to her by the Consulate. Quite an easy job considering that most of the time the only other Canadians in the area are ones living in the volunteer house with her. Regardless, she happily signed on, and last night we checked in to her complimentary suite at the Serena Hotel in Kampala. The first thing we saw upon entering the lobby was a book on the reception desk called “Leading Hotels of the World”; certainly an indication of how far from our usual dorm room accommodations this was. After being led to our room, we spent quite a while just oohing and aahing over the furniture, guest services, and all the fancy touches. Eventually, we managed to sort ourselves out for dinner, and headed down to one of the many restaurants located in the hotel. Kristen received free buffets for all her meals, compliments of the Canadian government, so while she enjoyed the massive selection of food available to her, I ordered a delicious stir fry. Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we headed back to our room and took advantage of the abundant hot water and (for Kristen) first opportunity in many months to relax in a bathtub. We spent the rest of the evening catching up on news on one of the two flat screen televisions in our room, and eventually made our way to bed just before midnight.

The Serena Hotel and pool.

Before heading over to her conference the next morning, Kristen was nice enough to sneak me some pastries from her morning buffet. While she was busy learning about safety procedures for Canadians in Uganda, I spent the day running around doing some last minute errands before I leave tomorrow. Most crucial was getting my Tanzanian entry visa, which I applied for in the morning, and just barely returned in time to retrieve before they closed (early!) in the afternoon. Luckily the man at the front gate took pity on me and unlocked the gate. Thank goodness, since not having my passport would have thrown a serious wrench in my departure plans… I also headed to the Surgery to get a new dressing on my foot, loaded up on reading and listening material for the bus ride, and even managed to pick up some much-needed new shirts. The hand-washing we do with our clothes here is not kind to the material, and most of the things I brought over with me are in a pretty sorry state now.

The type of room we stayed in for our second night in Kampala. The Serena it was not...

Once I’d managed to check off most of the items on my to-do list, I headed back to the Serena to meet Kristen and pick up my bags. The fact that my backpack has wheels really makes life so much easier. Since I’ll be travelling on my own in Tanzania, carting around a big backpack and a duffel bag full of Shanti bags and jewelry would have been pretty much impossible. Carrying one and rolling the other is much more manageable. Once we’d wheeled my things over to the hostel we’re staying at tonight, we took a boda to a Canadian-owned restaurant in town, where Kristen had been told a group of Canadians were holding their quarterly gathering. It turned out that most of the people who attended weren’t actually Canadian, but nevertheless had some tie to Canada (a daughter attending school in Nova Scotia, family living in Ontario, a partner who was from there, etc). It was nice chatting with them, and Kristen plans to come back to Kampala¬†for their Easter get-together.

Apart from one last breakfast with Kristen tomorrow morning, and a little food shopping for snacks for my trip, there’s not much left to do before I board the bus and start the next leg of my adventure. I’ve scouted out some places with internet on Zanzibar, so with any luck I’ll be able to update once on twice while I’m on the island.