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Our Kampala Expedition

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

What a day! We arose early, before the first light of day. Fortunately we had electric light for long enough to have breakfast, coffee and get dressed. Then the power went off as the daylight emerged. It was a dull, cloudy rainy sort of day.

Our first stop was the Hope school where there was also no power. The rain fell, the children were arriving and the staff gathered in the dim dark staff room. No such thing as a back up generator here!

Eventually our little sisterhood got on the road towards the capital. Trishelle, Sue T, Sharon, Kay and myself. Rick also went to Kampala in a truck with George and Roni.

As we travelled we discussed many things including running a business in Uganda and the interesting sights we saw along the way, like how if there’s a motorcycle coming the other way but there’s still room it’s okay to overtake!

We also discussed the the best way to move around the city with the large amount of cash that we were carrying. 6000 000 Ugandan shillings plus our own spending money. It was decided that the safest thing to do was to divide the cash amongst myself, Sue T and Kay, so we discreetly separated, folded and tucked 2000 000 each into our bras, where I had also stuffed a fair amount of my own money!

We arrived at a shopping complex and parted ways with Trishelle who had some business to attend to and we went to negotiate with some local transport to get us where we needed to go. Boda bodas are motorcycles who transport people and things all over the place. I have seen up to at least five people on one of these before, not to mention lounge chairs, loads of wood, large boxes and 6 or 8 jerrycans of water. The four of us caught 2 bodas across the busy city. I held on so tight and pulled my knees in as to not hit the other bodas and cars and people and gutters and everything that was just inches from every side of us. It was scary/ exciting!

We came to Senga, a sewing machine shop that was nothing like the one I used to work at. It was crowded with second hand industrial sewing machines, knitting machine and there was a large embroidery machine working at the back. There were no new machines to be seen. We we’re looking for a good machine that could sew automatic buttonholes, and we found a good second hand one. We each unloaded one million from our million dollar bust enlargements to pay for it. Transaction done, we left it there to pick up later.

Next was a short walk to a building full of tiny fabric and haberdashery stores. We bought zippers, buttons, strap adjusters, and many other items.

Just nearby there we went into another arcade full of fabric and sewing stores and found a well presented shop full of treadle machines. Sue T and Sharon tried one out and found it to work very well so we paid a deposit and left. Notice the signs on the shops. So many of them have something to do with God!

Next came lunch in a Ugandan style cafe/restaurant, there I drank Ugandan tea which was hot, milky and quite like what we would call chai tea. I also got to experience my first “squat” toilet here, and paid for the experience and the short piece of toilet paper. I was quite happy to make it out without getting any of my clothing wet!

After lunch Sue T, Kay and I walked to the fabric stores while the amazing Sharon went back to collect the sewing machines that we had purchase. She took 2 largish boxes and a treadle table on one boda to meet up with the truck that Rick came to town in.

After working our way through the maze of taxis (mini buses) which were all filling with people or trying to move in and out of the labyrinth we arrived at a street full of arcades full of fabric stores.

We bought a lot of fabric in 6 yard pieces. The girls in the stores were all trying to entice us to their little shop and throwing all their fabrics down on the counter for us to see. It was fun and a little stressful, but then we had to get it all and ourselves back to the truck.

Another boda ride but this time we had one each as we had to fit a large bag of fabric on with us.

It was a longer and more crowded ride than the first. My boda bump into someone at one stage and a driver on another raised his fist at me in some attempt to be intimidating. It was also scary/ exciting and my thoughts went between “ God is my protection“ on repeat and “I can’t believe that I am actually here in Africa doing this!” ( this second thought visits me often, especially in the tailoring room when I feel like I’m just doing what I do at home, but the drums I often here outside here are not the same as our neighbour at home practicing on his kit to some rock music)

All was going okay until my boda got caught up in traffic and I lost sight of the other girls on their bodas. Then I was planning how I get myself out of a situation if I didn’t go to where my friends went. Eventually I saw them waiting for me just ahead and sighed with relief.

Apologies for no pictures of us on the bodas but I was too busy staying alive to take any!

We dropped the fabric at the truck and headed across the road ( where each time is a risk to life and limb) to some very touristy markets where every shop owner tried to lure us in and they all had basically the same stock. I bought some earring.

The last stop was the large department store where we bought a mop and broom, mat, diary and some food items before finding Trishelle and the car waiting just outside.

It was a long, tiring, fun, crazy, exciting day where I passed thousands of people

who’s lives are so very different to mine. A day ( like everyday here) where I stood out as different to the norm, a muzungu ( white person) Where I bought all the things that are so very familiar to me only that I did it IN AFRICA!!! Where the money is so different and we spoke in hundreds of thousands and even millions throughout the day, and made withdrawals from our safely packed bra purses.

I am glad that most of those we dealt with could speak english and were kind when I offered one of the few lugandan words that I have learned.

I am thankful that we had a safe day and we were able to make the purchases that we needed to.

We all settled in for the journey home, and amused ourselves while stuck in the long traffic jams with comments about all the items that people were trying to sell through our window.

It was a day that I will remember for a long time to come!

Thank you for reading

love Suzanne

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