We left Kampala around 9:00 this morning -- spent the rest of the day driving to Kabale, which will be our base for the rest of our time here. We see through many different districts of the city -- the lumber district, the cement district... In many places we saw soldiers carrying large guns; many places had armed security guards; some police jeeps had canopies on top -- protecting the armed police from the elements. The city seemed to go on forever. A layer of red dust covers everything.
As we got farther out, we saw people working in small gardens beside the road, hoeing and watering. It's still very early spring, so any plants we could see were much too small to identify. Lots of living appears to be done outdoors -- washing clothes, cooking, eating, socializing. Small houses were built of handmade bricks (red dirt) with corrugated metal roofs. The bricks are baked in tall piles with a fire in the center. But first, thatch is put on top to help the bricks dry evenly before baking. The ovens are ubiquitous.
Each village we passed through had several open-air markets full of vegetables. Some had only banana leaves and matoke -- a hard, green, plant we at first mistook for bananas. It's a staple food which we will get a chance to taste it soon.
There is dense vegetation between villages, sometimes a wild jungle-like mix of plants, sometimes long monoculture seas of papyrus (filtering the water for Lake Victoria). The open fields are punctuated with large termite mounds -- not the same pests as the insects we call termites. There were many cows and goats browsing by the side of the road, some tethered, some not. Like the termites, the cows are quite different from what you would see in a Michigan field.
The birds are different too, of course. With the help of Dave Molzahn's Birds of Uganda book, we identified a Marabou Stork, a Glossy Ibis (a black bird with long curved beak, obnoxious loud call like a sea gull), a Turaco (not positive which variety), a Lizard Buzzard, and, not far from Kabale, a dozen or so Crested Storks.
Passing near Lake Victoria (unfortunately, not so near as to be able to see it), the roadside vendors were selling large fish, both fresh and smoked. Apparently, people buy fresh fish along the way, then tie them onto the front of the bus -- the fish keep cool by hanging in the breeze.
We had a good rest stop at the equator -- took the requisite pictures, of course. We also watched the demonstration of water spiraling in opposite directions on the north and south sides. What many of us didn't realize is that exactly on the equator, the water goes straight down. Learn something new every day!
Past the equator we began passing coffee trees, many of them mixed in with banana plantations. The coffee trees were very short.
Just before arriving at our hotel, we passed more than one billboard with the message: "Do you know your child's HIV status? Bring all children in to be tested."
We also passed some trees full of fruit bats -- the biggest bats I've ever seen! As I think I've mentioned, we're not in Kansas anymore. Also, we're now at 6600' elevation and the evening is fresh and cool.