Second day in Uganda – Frustrating!

There is a real ‘foggy-smog'(!) over Kampala this morning. I’m wondering if it is always like this as I have never actually stayed in Kampala itself before and certainly not in a ‘high-rise’ apartment! This building where I am staying is beside a petrol station, above a car yard and surrounded by a mixture of homes many very poor but it seems a happy place where children play and life goes on regardless of situation. Not far away are the modern buildings of the city centre. I have a video which I will attempt to put on Youtube of the view.

To get to the apartment you have to climb loads of steps that are of varying size. I’m not kidding they range from hardly any step at all to ones that are well over a foot in depth and even with my long legs have a struggle to climb! When I arrived on Sunday morning with four heavy cases I wondered how on earth we were going to get them up to the top floor.

I suggested we ask some of the car mechanics to help us but couldn’t believe what happened next – Lilli swung one case up on her head and started up the stairs followed by Faith. When Charles saw what had happened he chuckled to himself and followed suit! I do wish I had had my camera ready as it was amazing to see when you appreciate the weight of each case was over 23 kilo!

I followed with my 12 kilo rucksack and my smaller one containing my laptop and it was a struggle. All the time I could hear Faith calling from above “No Mum leave it we will come back.” I was determined to keep going though and made it, sweating buckets! Charles returned for the last and heaviest case. He well deserved the tip I gave him!!

I’ve really had a good nights sleep which will please my family and friends very much. I had had a busy day, mostly enjoyable and felt very relaxed even at the frustrating parts!

(Faith has just realised I am awake, disappeared into the kitchen and came out with a freshly made cup of Ugandan tea, no milk but very refreshing, and I am still enjoying it. She’s gone back to sleep again, Lili has not stirred!)

Yesterday morning Faith and I set off on foot to walk to the nearest MoneyGram bank to cash my MG as I had no Ugandan Shillings left after paying Banana Village and for my transport. We went into the bank, picked up a form, I filled it in then joined the MoneyGram queue , easypeasy I was thinking to myself. Huh, spoke too soon!

When I got to the Teller she looked at my form and said she could cash it but only had 2000 Ugx notes. I was just about to say it was OK when Faith fortunately interacted and said ‘No Mum, that is so many!’ I then realised what she meant. £500 at over 4000 Ugx would mean I would be carrying a bundle of 1,000 notes, yes one thousand!!!

So I declined the offer and we set off for another bank. Walking in Kampala is not easy as there are few footpaths and the traffic is crazy, you have to have eyes in the back of your head and a few extra! There are deep gullies all along the side of the road and with the cars and piki piki motorbikes coming past several abreast you have to watch you don’t get forced into the concrete depths!!

But we made it to the next bank where I had to fill up another form as it was a different bank though still MoneyGram! I joined the queue behind people waiting for the Teller that had a big sign above the counter which said MoneyGram. It was hot, my back ached from standing still, but I knew I had to persevere as it always takes ages to get money out of a bank in Uganda and if I didn’t get it today I would have to do it tomorrow! So I practised being patient and eventually got to the window.

I could not believe it when the teller said I was at the wrong counter and would have to move across to the other queue, the queue without the MoneyGram sign! It’s a good thing I don’t use bad language as I would really have expressed my frustration. I just politely pointed out how they could improve their ‘customer service’ then moved along and joined the other queue!

Eventually I got my money and we went to search out MTN for my mobile and Internet. In previous years one of my friends always got these for me for when I arrived but the Ugandan government has brought out new regulations and you have to purchase in person.

I had to go to another business to have a copy made of my passport, which I wasn’t happy with but had no choice. Then back to MTN, two different ones for mobile and then Internet, and with a great deal of help from my dear friend Faith, I got sorted and that is why you are receiving my newsletters.

More to come, my day did get better!

Love Gerry x

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