Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The mystery of my reduction

Greetings from the Ostrich Suite at Hotel Kakanyero, Gulu, Uganda. Kate and I splurged for a self-contained room, which means it has a cold shower and a real honest-to-God sit-down toilet (instead of a pit latrine and outdoor cold shower). Breakfast included (African tea, fried eggs, toast, pineapple on little checkered tables – Gulu food). We're tucked into the far corner of the first floor courtyard, with a 2-chair balcony overlooking our ostrich mural and several UN Land Cruisers with scuba tubes.

We got a bit of a late start to Gulu and ended up on the 11:30 am bus,which was a luxury liner – plastic-covered seats (sliding and sweating the whole way) and a TV and sound system blasting a variety of greatest hits – Lucky Doobie reggae-thon, Swahili rump-shaking videos, several boy bands and a really bad Nigerian flick where all the actors seemed to scream. 6 hours, lots of rain and one dead goat later, we arrived in Gulu unscathed, devoured dinner at Bambu and escaped the evening rains back at our "suite."

A re-cap of the past few days.

Sunday mornings in Kampala always seem freshly-scrubbed; the week's grit rinsed clean with the Saturday night rain showers. Traffic jams dissolve and the boda rides (palm leaves tucked in mirrors and matatu windshields) are fast and chilled in clean sunlight. Kate and Ibrunched at La Fontaine – fresh yogurt, fruit and honey,fresh-squeezed OJ, African milk tea (non-spiced), fried eggs, French toast, and Scottish pancakes. Daily Monitor and a new character –Kate's friend Steve.

Enter Steve, stage left, fresh from bagels at I Love New York Kitchen. He is working at Refugee Law Project and hasn't cut his hair or shaved in three months. Ugandan children commonly mistake him for Jesus.

Our extended brunch was served by a Marley-shirted Richard and background music courtesy of the CD player – a Peruvian flautist version of Dust in the Wind. I was excited to see Richard again (this being my first visit back to La Fontaine since returning), and he greeted me with a hug and a high-pitched "ah! You have been reduced?!" To clarify he rounded out his arms to motion the shape of a football player, puffed out his cheeks and repeated his question. He refused to believe that I had not lost a great deal of weight since the last time I saw him. The mystery of my reduction remains unsolved.

Tonight is a rest night, letting our backs recuperate from the 110 speed bumps in Luwero District and preparing for a long day in the market tomorrow…when we get to see Lucy!

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