Monday, August 31, 2009



I needed to replace my umbrella because the last one I had was left in the trunk of someone's car whom I don't know very well, so I just kissed it goodbye. I went, once again, to Victoria Shoppers in Bugolobi to buy my umbrella because, for some strange reason, they have a fairly good range of umbrellas at relatively good prices. I know selecting an umbrella to buy is not like selecting a car to buy or anything, but I still like choice.

This is one I chose:

because it reminded me of this:

Now, when I'm battling rain as I walk to work in the mornings, I'll be inspired and hum, no sing out loud: Stronger than than yesterday. It's nothin' but my way. My loneliness ain't killin' me no more... Gene Kelly, you're not the only one who's gonna be singin' in the rain!

(On a side note, I was given a poster of the above image of Britney at a staff Christmas party, winter 2000. A woman I worked with was really upset and accused me of objectifying women. Whatever.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scattered Sunshine

Scattered Sunshine

You know those days when, for one reason or another, you just feel a bit low. It's nothing major, and all you need is just a simple gesture from someone to brighten your day and put a smile on your face. It's like exercising those smile muscles sends an "upper" through the body, and your day is all right again.

I want to thank Gloria Wavamunno and the guys at Flair for this simple gesture:
Lucky for us, they plastered this add all over town on roadsides to make us all smile, maybe chuckle a bit. I mean, when I see this photo of Gloria, I think: Now I know what a hearty Rhianna would wear if she were going to snort coke with Liza in the coatroom of Studio 54 in 1979. Then I smile. Afterwards I think: Silly. Rhianna wasn't even conceived in 1979, and time travel's not possible. That makes me chuckle.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just Not Enough

Just Not Enough

In case you haven't heard the news, there's a milk shortage in Uganda at the moment. In case you (like me) didn't know there was a milk shortage last weekend and went to three supermarkets looking for milk and couldn't find any in the refrigerated section: there is a milk shortage in Uganda at the moment. I'm not always the fastest to put two and two together, so I did not see that no rain=no water for cows to drink=no milk on my supermarket shelves.

From May until now, the price of a liter of milk has almost doubled. I paid 2,100 Uganda shillings for a liter today; that's about a dollar at current exchange rates--perhaps a little more. To put that in perspective, a gallon is roughly 3.8 liters. That means a gallon of milk in Uganda would go for about $3.80. Now, where I'm from in Florida, a gallon of milk is currently going for $2.89. (Just to compare, the per captia income of Uganda for 2008 is estimated to be around $1100, in the US it is estimated to be $47,000.) And it's not like Uganda is one of those countries that doesn't have many cows or where milk is not culturally part of the diet, making milk a rarity and driving up the price. With this rise in the cost of milk, many families cannot afford to provide milk (and those oh, so important vitamins and minerals milk provides) for their children. I really feel for those mothers and fathers who must be struggling. Should the government get involved in order to promote healthy babies and mothers? I mean, the news lately has reported the need of Uganda to better promote the survival of children--with malnutrition being cited as one of the causes of high infant mortality in the country.

Unlike last weekend, I did find milk in the refrigerated aisle today. Milk was there, but purchases were being limited to three liters per person.
Fair enough. Times are tough; let's let everyone get at least some of what they need. I don't need too much, just a bit to put in my muesli in the morning. I bought two liters. Ironically, at the same time there was a sign reminding customers of the milk shortage and limiting us to only three liters, there was a booth to sample 'wet' Weetabix on the same aisle. 'Wet' with milk, that commodity that is scarce these days.
They couldn't allow customers to buy too much milk because of the shortage, yet they could let the milk be used to market a product. Hmmm...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Goodies

My Goodies

Finally, I'm getting off of my lazy behind and hitting the pavement (and dirt roads and trails for that matter) and getting that lazy behind of mine in shape. I ran the full MTN Marathon in Kampala in 2007, and I'd like to do it again this year. (Not an official announcement.) As I know very well, those 42km are not going to run themselves. So I went for a run this evening. I started out with a plan of where I'd run, but like most well laid plans, things changed. I ended up with an adventurous streak, and I took a few less-travelled-by turns and ended up following the railroad tracks. About 6km into my run, it was getting a bit too dark to run safely (uneven trails, stones, gravel... deep holes), and I came out by the Kataza stage near the Bugolobi Shell. Well, Jazz Supermarket is just there, so I decided to duck in a take a peek at what they had and decide if I needed anything. Yes. I. Did. Right at the entrance where they display several sale items were two boxes of chocolate candies handsomely marked down. And this was good candy. Not smushed. No faded wrappers from being on display too long. I could not resist purchasing a big full of Smarties and Lion candy bars.

This is not the first time I went crazy with chocolate bars. Today's experience brought back memories of 2006 and life in American Samoa. Ok, I plead insanity for that one. Two words: island fever. It had to be. Who does stuff like that?

Boy, do I look young!
If I could turn back time...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009



Who made the Wikipedia entry for Keturah Kamugasa?

I don't know why I know that she is in the online encyclopedia... but she is. Follow the link.

Another Question:

Why does Keturah Kamugasa get to write about fashion? She's telling other what they should wear, even criticising other people's wardrobe choices. Have you noticed what she wears?

Okay, those are two question with a statement sandwiched between, but they had to be asked/said/asked.

Conspiracy theory:

It's the same people that are behind this are the same people who are responsible fore putting male models in African Woman magazine and Stanbic Bank ads wearing brown belts with black shoes. They are seriously out to eff things up.

In other Wikipedia-New Vision-related news, the online encyclopedia also states that Robert Kabushenga resigned as CEO of the New Vision after only two weeks in that position. I love my Wikipedia, but you sometimes have to question the accuracy of the articles. Wasn't that David Sseppuuya who resigned after two weeks in 2006? Isn't Mr. Kabushenga still CEO? It's neither here nor there, I guess. Again, I don't know why I know this, but... I do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Obama Mania

Obama Mania

Democrat or republican.  Fan of the currently proposed health care reforms or not, you would be heartless if you did not find Obama adorable.

Baby Obama was born 24th June 2009 at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola District in Uganda.  He is the fist Rhino to be born in Uganda since the last freely roaming indigenous Rhino was seen here in 1982.  Unfortunately, there was a period when they were all sold off or killed.  The Rhino Fund Uganda came to be in 1997 with the aim to re-establish a rhino population in Uganda.  The first two rhinos arrive in Uganda came in 2001, but are housed at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe; they were brought in for educational purposes and to raise awareness of the cause.  It was not until 2005 that the sanctuary in Nakasongola was ready and 4 rhinos from Kenya (including Taleo, Obama's father) were brought in. 

Like Barack, baby rhino Obama is also the product of a Kenyan father rhino and a mother rhino from America.  She was donated to Ziwa by Disney's Animal Kingdom.  

I'm supposing this is the reason he was named so...  Or maybe the powers that be just like the ring of it.

Part of my package tour with the Red Chilli included a visit to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola on the third day of the trip.  I must say this was the highlight of the trip, and a visit to the rhinos should not be missed by anyone travelling in the area.  They are majestic creatures, and I am so happy that an effort is being made to re-introduce them to the National Parks in Uganda.

It was amazing to spend time up close and personal with the rhinos (by the way, little Obama and his mother are taking private time right now, so they are a bit M.I.A. these days--out of sight=no angry mother charging).  

Yes, these are wild animals, but they have become habituated to human visitors.  Being delusional (as I mentioned in my previous post), I like to imagine that I'm a risk taker, braving danger and certain death... and how did I not notice that a huge piece of grass was in my face when this photo was being shot?  Delusions aside, the risk of a rhino charge is not a non-issue.  These are instructions given to us in our visitor's guide:

I loved the idea of climbing a tree to escape a charging rhino...  Man, I'm so brave.

This was a lovely visit that I'll have to repeat.  I'm already planning to make a return in the next couple of months with my students.  I really expect them to enjoy it. 

Additional tidbits:

We passed over 52 consecutive speed humps on the highway, had a bit of a break, then passed over 67 more consecutively.  There would've been more, but (fortunately) they are beginning to be removed.

Speaking of namesakes...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Down By the Banks

Down By the Banks

As I mentioned Friday, I was in Murchison Falls National Park at the beginning of last week; and as promised, here are my post on that trip. I don't know what happened to me this weekend. I just didn't feel like writing. I was more in a cooking mood, but that's a whole other topic, so I won't go into that.

I took my trip with the Red Chilli (leaving from their main location in Mbuya) and stayed at their camp in the park. The journey from Kampala to Masindi was much longer than I remembered it to be. Even with the newly amazing road, it seemed like the trip took forever. I was very happy to find the road from Kafu to Masindi paved. I remember the good-ole dusty days, and the days it would be so muddy that the taxis would have to divert to the Masindi Port Road. Lunch was at Travellers' Corner. Absolutely not my favourite place to eat in Masindi, but I ate there with my fellow travellers and took the opportunity to get to know the people with whom I'd be spending a lot of time with over the trip. Yes, I can be nice sometimes. Obviously, the bond that we formed was not too strong because I cannot recall their names right now.

This was my first trip to Murchison Park. Yes, I lived in Hoima District for three years--just near to the park, but I never had the chance to make a visit. Yes, I've been back in Uganda for over three years. No, I never took the time to make the journey until the 18th of August 2009. I planned to do it every holiday that I had, but I never made it a priority until now, so the visit never took place.

The first day of the trip, we visited to top of the falls. Murchison Falls is a marvelous design of nature. The force of the river through those rocks is amazing. 

I was in respectful awe when the falls came into view and my amazement continued throughout our hike. By the way, it was hot as hell. The gusts of air and mist form the surging water provided little relief as we came closer.

From the falls, we went to the Red Chilli camp and found our tents.

This was the interior of our tent when we arrived. Now, imagine it the next morning with about 2 inches of water on the floor. My goodness, there was an ridiculous storm that began at 2:30am and pounded the tent for well over 3 hours, saturating the canvas that eventually began to leak. Drip. Drip. Drip... On my bed and me for a good portion of the night. This did not put me in a fantastic mood for the game drive at 6:30 in the morning.

After we crossed the Nile by ferry, it did not take us long to find the animals. The first thing we saw were some Cape Buffaloes enjoying an immediate fruit of a the storm: mud.

This was my first experience seeing Giraffe's in Uganda. I've seen them in Kenya before, and I'm pretty sure we saw them when my family vacationed at Busch Gardens in Tampa way back when.

When the giraffes run, it's like they glide across the savannah. I think of the vampires in the Twilight books when I see them moving across the plains At the same time there is a bit of awkwardness to their gait. Is it possible to have a clumsy grace?

Because of a relatively sleepless night, I napped a bit on the game drive. Because of my napping, I missed a spotting of an ever elusive jackal. The price we pay... However, I was not the only one caught napping.

Notice in the the background the leftovers from her breakfast.

After lunch, I went on the boat trip to the bottom of Murchison Falls. The trip was quite lengthy, about 3-1/2 hours. Despite the the duration of this trip, I enjoyed it much more that the similar trip I did at Queen Elizabeth National Park that I took back in December. This boat launch was better executed.

Remember how I'm a new Gossip Girl fan? Well, at one point of the trip I was sure Blair Waldorf (aka Leighton Meester) was a passenger on our boat.

I have a tendency to be a bit delusional sometimes.  But I'm not delusional when it comes to seeing a coin slot aboard.  Evidence:

When the boat reached it's parking place at the rocks near the bottom of the falls, I was temped by my newly acquired English friends and could not resist the opportunity to have a Nile while floating on the Nile.


Yet another week has come and gone without a single visit to the gym...

I'm really beginning to feel like a hippo!!!

I report back to work tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to add more structure to my life, and part of that structure will include an improved fitness plan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It Must Be New

It Must Be New

Well, I'm back--back from a good three days of pretending to be a tourist in this great country.  I'm back from that ridiculous fresh air to the city I love so much--dust, fumes and all.  I cannot pick and choose the parts I like and discard the others.  Me and Kampala:  it's real and it's deep.  I went to sleep last night to the sounds of insects chirruping and fiddling and frogs doing what they do best.  It reminded me of childhood nights in the sticks--a very soothing lullaby--and I slept amazingly well considering the mattress on my bed was almost non-existent, such that I woke up this morning (after an amazing sleep) with a really sore back.  I'll spill more details about my trip later; I need to sort through some photos first.  But I will quickly just recommend the Red Chilli's trip to anyone who's travelling on a budget.  I agree with their website that it is "the best value safari tour in East Africa."  I caught a few wisecracks from some friends when I told them I was doing this tour; they had a hard time accepting me as a backpacker... But I was... In a previous life.  And it was good going back to my roots.

So when I got back this evening, there was so much news to get caught up on.  The best of it all is that Britney was on David Letterman earlier this week.  Yes, our princess (now Queen) of pop was in her bikini-clad glory as she delivered the evening's top 10.  So if you've ever wondered about the top 10 ways the country [US] would be different if Britney Spears were president (if only we'd be so lucky!), wonder no more.  Here we go:

I'm all for free pie.  Free is for me!!!

Then there is Corbin Bleu, of High School Musical fame, naked.  That's right, Vanessa Hudgens is not the only person who gets to be found on the internets in the buff.

Hometown proud.  I read that these ads will decorate the billboards of Corbin's hometown, New York City.  Flashback to my second-last NYC visit--January 2001, Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality, Time Square, enormous, hand cuffs.

Finally, there was a bit of sensational news to liven up the Ugandan dailies.  A plane made an emergency landing on Masaka Highway.

The Portuguese couple celebrated their survival with a public display of affection.  Guess which paper, in it's childish immaturity, felt it necessary to report that a "romping couple" crash landed...

The Pepper's exaggeration is not what frustrates me with the reporting of this story.  It is Uganda's leading newspaper, The New Vision's, story by Jude Kafuuma that irks me.  Um, where exactly is Kisoro Gorilla Mountain Park?  I mean, is one that was created just for this couple's visit?  Kafuuma, did you pull the name out of your ass?  I mean, there is not a national park in Uganda with a name close to that one.  Sure, there is one with the word mountain (well its plural form:  mountains) and another with the word gorilla, but not both words.  Nor is there a park with the name Kisoro.  Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but this is the cover story of today's paper.  I think it at least merited a quick google search to find the correct name of the national part.  Uganda Wildlife Authority does have a pretty good website.  As inaccurate as one of my favourite reference tools, Wikipedia, can be, they got this one right (yet, Katonda is not a national park but a reserve).  Editor,  where are you???  I guess what frustrates me about this simple error is that if the journalism is so lackadaisical in this story, what are the chances that non-fluff stories are also mis-reported?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



I'm sleepy.  It was a fairly good day today.  I moved some heavy furniture.  I just got back from saying goodbye to a friend who's leaving for good on Friday.  Saying goodbye comes with the lifestyle.  

I must go to bed soon because I have a trip tomorrow morning, and I cannot oversleep because they will not wait for me.  In order to be more efficient with my time, I'm resorting to bullet points for today.  Here I go:
  • Rowena's back from the bush.  Yay!  We had Chelsea buns together this evening at my place.  I'm so happy she's back in town, and I hope it's for more time than last time.  At least we've made a program for Friday morning, which I need to alter a bit because I MUST get to the embassy with my new passport application and photos.  But that should be quick.
  • Despite Lynne's claim, she's sharing.  I'm coming on Thursday!!!

  • If I don't write it down, it won't happen.  If I write it down, then lose my to-do list, it still won't happen.
  • So wrong.
Especially  and   .

That's right!

I need to be going to the gym...  Laziness...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aggie Introduces Ronnie

Aggie Introduces Ronnie

It's about time... Today, after more than three years in Kampala, I was able to attend a kwanjula.  If you're not familiar with the term, click on the link.  It's not a comprehensive article, nor is it succinct, but you'll definitely have a better understanding of the ceremony/festivity/celebration from reading it.  I'd attended an introduction in Uganda before, but only in Bunyoro, so I had an idea of what to expect.  However, I'd never attended the more elaborate, extensive version that takes place in the central region of the country--the Buganda Kingdom.

The kwanjula was an engaging ceremony, but much of what went on was lost on me because of my lack of Luganda language skills.  However because I've living in Uganda for some time, I've heard discussions on dozens of kwanjulas, so the customs were not complete unfamiliar to me.  Oh, and when a couple of my friends found out I was to be part of the groom's party, they dished out to me the dos and don'ts and other idiosyncrasies of the kwanjula of the Baganda.  I was especially warned of the potential duration of the ceremony--lots of speeches.  All of their instructions and warnings (i.e. don't pull up your kanzu to avoid getting it dirty) set off my neurotic tendencies, and I was exceptionally anxious about effing up and bringing on a fine for the groom.  Guess who assisted to carry in the gift of 50kgs of sugar...  Guess who almost dropped the corner of the sack of 50kgs of sugar... Luckily, I didn't... Luckily.

Keeping with tradition:

the men wore kanzus;

the women wore gomesis

gifts were given;

and food was shared--including luwombo (I'm a sucker for luwombo).

Today was a beautiful day, even if the weather did not always cooperate.  It was a family affair on different levels.  The past year was a very trying one in the work place, and I think the trials brought many of us colleagues closer together in our private lives.  Several of us came out today for Ronnie on his special occasion.

We're a pretty damn good-looking crew, if I do say so myself.  Wouldn't you trust us with the quality education of your children?  Judge this book by its cover.  Excellence.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best of KLA

Best of KLA

I've been asked by more than one new arrival to the city and a few long-termers where they can find a good hamburger.  True, it's not fine dining, and it's what Nicole R. might refer to as 'so middle class' but, hey, it's what some people like.  Comfort food.  And I have nothing against that.  I love my Chex Mix and have a bag on reserve for an emergency.

I've never been a huge hamburger fan, so I'm not the best person to pose that question to, but as a true-blooded American, I've had to get my hamburger fix on occasion.  I've been able to recommend a couple of places as having decent burgers, but I've had my reservations with each recommendation.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have finally found the place that I can recommend without reservation or hesitation as having the best burger in town, and that is the new coffee shop Cafe Mocca (not to be confused with Cafe Mokka that is at the Oasis shopping center).  Cafe Mocca is located downtown across the street from Worker's house on Portal Road (or Street?  I'm not sure of the exact name), just opposite of the entrance to NSSF Customer Service. 
I'd never heard of this place before today, and I just stumbled upon it by accident.  Apparently, it's been open for about three months.  Unlike in the past, I rarely get to the city center, so I had no idea about some of the downtown developments.  I was forced to leave the comfort of the out-lying areas of the city and trek downtown today to buy a kanzu for an introduction (kwanjula) on Sunday.  Since I was in the city and had some free time, I decided to just stroll around--something I'd not done in a very long time.  The shop's sign caught my eye, and I had to check it out.  I went in and ran into a friend and found out the shop is his brother's.  Well, you know how I love to support people I know; it makes business more personal and more enjoyable to me.  I'm like the most loyal customer ever.  I mean, if I go to the supermarket, and I cannot find Jesa butter, then I just won't buy butter.

What made the burger super-duper?  Well, the beef patty was a generous size and they added fresh herbs to the mix.  The burger was covered with melted cheese topped with lettuce, tomatoes and caramelized onions.  And... the bun was freshly baked on location--very soft and tasty.  I was very satisfied with my order.

I'm so happy with my discovery, so I had to share it with you.  I am so happy with today's experience that I'm heading there tomorrow for breakfast.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Still Leavin'

Still Leavin'

I still have the option to rock and roll all night and party every day.  Not that that's my style, but I could do that if I wanted.  Yes, I find myself doing a bit of work in preparation for the new beginning at the end of this month, but I'm on my own time, no regular work schedule.  The 9 to 5 grind makes me think of my friend Kat.  I'm not sure exactly why.  When we worked together, we definitely did not have a normal 9 to 5 job.  Maybe because Mphanga told me one time that 9 to 5 was a song that reminded her of Kat, and because I want to be like Mphanga, I think I, like a creepy obsessed stalker fan, adopted the association between Kat and 9 to 5 too.  
The women (and men, too) who are part of the new Broadway musical adaptation of 9 to 5 will soon be looking for another way to make a livin' as the show closes at the beginning of next month.   I think it had its debut on Broadway in April... and it's already closing.  Now, I really  had high hopes for this show when I first learned it was being developed for the stage, with Dolly Parton writing the songs.  The orginal cast recording of the soundtrack was released on 14th July, and you-know-who was eagerly waiting to download it.  I find the music to be very entertaining.  While I must say that I have enjoyed other soundtracks more than this one (Rent, Spring Awakening, Wicked), I think some of the songs are great (Get Out and Stay Out, Change It, I Just Might).  And Megan Hilty's performance of Backwoods Barbie (song also from Dolly's previously released album of the same title) is both comedic and sincere at the same time.  The songs are pure Dolly, and I can actually imagine her performing all of them.

But not even Dolly's attachment could save the show.  It received mixed reviews from critics and did not win an audience.  As we know, good reviews does not guarantee a long-running hit (Ragtime), nor do mixed or negative review sink a show.  A prime example:  Wicked.  It's still going strong--there's just something special about this show that connects with people and the are still flocking to it after all these years.

I was offline for a day--I forgot to pay my internet bill.  When I was back on the nets, I had to get caught up with the news, gossip, and random stuff that I love so much.  I love information, and I love sharing it... I think that's why I love blogging and I'm becoming a facebook addict.  The following are photos/illustrations that triggered a reaction from me, and I felt like sharing.

I had a friend at university, Dana, who used to say that her favourite food was corn.  She even made me a card once with a corn theme.  I could relate to her preference because I love most food products made from corn.  However, Dana just loved corn.  When I came across this illustration yesterday made by Dave at, the first thought to come to my mind was Dana circa 1999 and Florida State University.  You must go to Dave's site to see the original graphic because it's animated.  BRILLIANT!

Does it need to be said that Nia Long is a beautiful woman?  Or is that stating the obvious?
What not be so obvious is that she's and animal lover and she's taking it all off for PETA.  I'm sure that will raise awareness for their campaign against cruelty to animals... 

In semi-nudity related news, Rihanna's still sporting the pasties.

She's so badass.

I think that the furthest you could be from badass would be to be featured on  Even worse would be selected as Kenny of the Month, like this guy.
Funny, huh?  I guess it has its value because I'm posting it and directing you to the sight.  I remember during Kenny's hay day back in the 80's where I grew up, there were Kenny Rogers look-alike contests, so I figure they must've been pretty common all over.  What an honor it was to win!!! 

Related to prickly situations related to penises (Sarasota, 1991, anyone?), Paul Reuben is bringing Pee-wee Herman back.  As much as I loved the character back in the day--Pee-wee's Playhouse was brilliant television--I'm not sure I'm interested in this revival.

I mentioned that I'm a recent jumper-on to the Gossip Girl bandwagon.  I love, love, love Leighton Meester's character, Blair.  I thoroughly enjoy watching her play the part of queen bee and remind people who the crazy bitch around here is.  She and Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) are going to be in an upcoming issue of ELLE magazine.  Thanks to twitter, at least one photo leaked on to the internets.

Monday, August 10, 2009



This is just too delicious to not spread and share with the masses.  

George (Heavy G) Vera had a little secret.  A little secret tucked away deep... deep inside one of his fat rolls.  Yes, this 500-pound lump of a guy was arrested, searched; taken to the city jail, searched again; taken to the county jail and (you guessed it) searched again.  Not one officer doing the search discovered the little something we like to call a 9mm pistol hidden inside of his George's natural crevices.  Good guy that he is, George confessed to the having the firearm during a shower break.  What a sweetheart!

Since we're on the topic of sweethearts, Gossip Girl.  Ok, so I'm a bit late jumping on this bandwagon, but I cannot resist expressing how entertaining I find it.  I cannot wait to get into season to see Taylor Momsen's transformation in to a hooker.  I thought it was brilliant to add Buffy's little sister, Harriet the Spy, to the show's roster towards the end of the first season, and her bitchiness helped us to see Blair's positive (in comparison) side.  Otherwise, why would we care about Blair, right?  

Gossip Girl shares her creation theory in the season 1 finale:  

Bitches don't just happen; they're made by parents even more wicked than their offspring.

And despite Georgina's best efforts to evoke fear and reek havoc, Blair assures her:

Haven't you hear?  I'm the crazy bitch around her.