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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stocking up at Mukwano and lunch at a gas station

Sorry. I'm at the pool again. I'd been happily baking and reading The God of Small Things when a storm cloud rumbled in, half the pool bright and sunny and the other half ominous. That's how I found myself at the dark bar eating another damn good fat bad fat salad and writing to you all.

Kate is back at home on the other side of town, sick with stomach problems - she thinks it's giardia (I'm knocking on wood every chance I get, since we've eaten exactly the same food since I arrived). When she wandered out of her bedroom yesterday morning with that look on her face, I suddenly felt a little bit lost. Poor planning on our part - not taking the possibility of sudden stomach problems into consideration...

Instead I called Frances (our most reliable boda driver, who Kate insists does not charge us the mzungu prices), and rode out to Makerere U. main campus to pick up Colin - who agreed to make the overwhelming trip to Old Kampala with me.

Mukwano Arcade is labyrinth of multi-story market stalls adjacent to the old taxi park. It's in one of Kampala's many valleys, which collects the humid heat in thick pools, and combined with the bursts of exhaust, it can be hard to breathe as you navigate among people (shoulder to shoulder), bodas (whizzing in and around) and matatus (bumper to bumper "hey mzungu I love you have a seat here"). Ever thankful for Colin's guidance and Luganda language skills, we popped in and out of the stalls, searching for the right fabrics for One Mango Tree's spring/summer line (we're going for lighter and brighter colors this time around). Passing up the wax print with high-heeled roller skates, we opted for some kitchen prints with apples and bananas, as well as several florals - I'm finding them to be decidedly un-African, but I know customers back home will love them. The next stop was thicker foam for oven mitts (Gulu is clean out of foam), and it was a blast trying to haggle for products when you have absolutely NO idea of their true value. Ignorance is bliss, because then everything is a good deal.

A couple of hours and two bright red shoulders later, we hopped back on bodas with all of our purchases and headed to Javas for lunch. Javas is the newest hot spot in Kampala - on Bomba Road just outside of Wandegaya (I think my spelling is atrocious). It also happens to be part of a gas station and Colin just will NOT stop talking about it. I promise you, this was the classiest gas station I've ever lunched in. We hashed out some ideas for the youth summit with Central Buganda University (the next project I'm taking on), and it was inspiring to get our wheels turning about content and structure. Colin packed me up solo for the ride home, and I clutched the 3 foot tall by 2 foot thick cyclinder of foam and six bags of new fabrics for the long ride.

In an effort to keep out of the sick house and give Kate some time to rest, I spent my Friday night at Crocodile Cafe at Kisementi, writing and chatting with Joey about the new journey - Kili in 09. The power went out several times, leaving me as the eerie customer in the corner whose face reflected bluish gmail light. I'm creepy.

1 comment:

Omutahinga said...

I found this page, thanks to Jackfruity's blog. Very interesting posts. Still wondering what an 'African' floral print looks like ...

Welcome back to the mothership.