I wake up around 7 am as the sun is rising over Kamwokya (KAM-oh-cha), our busy neighborhood in Kampala. I eat a breakfast of yogurt, Wheatabix (a British cereal), fresh tiny bananas, and fresh passion fruit and drink a glass of very think mango juice. As I leave our apartment compound for my two mile walk to work, I join a mass of walking people who are all on their daily commute as well.
About of a third of the walk is back roads, but two thirds of the walk is along very busy main roads. I love the exercise and time to think every morning, but the clouds of dust and vehicle exhaust are not my favorite. Somedays I walk with a scarf over my nose and mouth, and if I had access to a SARS mask, I would seriously consider adding it to my daily wardrobe. The traffic is made up of white mini buses (“taxis”) that are the most used form of public transportation, motorcycles-for-hire (boda bodas), bicycles, and a few private cars and trucks. The boda drivers have no formal training, seldom wear helmets, and always take the path of least resistance, which is often the sidewalk. All of this means that I have to stay very alert on my walk, to avoid being run over by a boda or stepping in a pothole.
The Infectious Disease Institute (IDI)is a large institution with around 800 employees. It is based out of Makerere University with an office building at the University, a large HIV/AIDs clinic next to Mulago (the largest Ugandan hospital), and a nearby Training Center. I work at the Training Center, which is a modern Office Complex with classrooms on the first floor. Read more about my job here.
IDI subsidizes lunch, a vegetarian plate costs 1,000 Ugandan shillings (about $.35) and meat costs 2,000 shillings (about $.70). The meals are the same every day and very carb heavy: rice, matooke (steamed green bananas), posho (boiled corn starch), and then sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, cassava, beans, meat, chicken, fish, or beef. The food is good, although a bit bland.
After work, I walk home and David and I do some shopping for dinner around our neighborhood. We buy fruits and vegetables from makeshift stands on our street and everything else from small ‘supermarkets’ owned mostly by Indians. On our street we can buy tomatoes, cabbage, avocados, limes, egg plant, tiny green peppers, bananas, pineapple, and jackfruit. Small fruits and vegetables cost about 4 cents each, avocados 15 cents, and pineapples 50 cents.
We make dinner together, watch a bit of news, hang out with our roommate Ally, and go to bed. The power goes out about every other night from around 7pm to 10pm, which means we cook and eat by the light of headlamps. Although power outages are inconvenient, at least we can sleep in peace since the night club near our apartment, mercifully, has no generator.