Reading Uganda

I rise at five-thirty, try some fruit juice and get the airport shuttle. Men in spotless white headdresses and robes guide us into the airport. The flight to Entebbe is on time and after touching down in Addis, we’re flying over the khaki uplands of Kenya and then the deeper more luscious green of Uganda.

Femrite members, Hilda, Lillian and Juliet meet me at the airport, fuss over my baggage and drive me into Kampala and across the city to the Makerere University Guest House. We touch base about my new schedule and they leave, laughing and waving from their 4×4. The Guest House seems shabbier, the campus overgrown and a little forlorn. There are ibis and cattle egret and marabou storks pottering, as well as kites taking to the air and a beautiful lilac breasted dove pecking at the lawn. The tennis court is humming with topspin and the terrace thronged with SUVs and gossiping Ugandans.

There are odd, and I mean eccentric, Brits and Americans staying here and the service is as slow as it ever was. A friendly Canadian postgrad, Connor, assures me that the wi-fi system is working, but only in fits and starts for me. He’s looking at sustainable development and shopping for malarial prophylaxis. A Bell lager takes fifteen minutes to arrive. But it’s worth it – to be drinking a cold beer, overlooking the mosque, back in that scent of diesel fumes and lake water, and hot charcoal.

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