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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scenes of Africa # 1

So I'm crawling through traffic in downtown Kampala - every day, 1-2 hours each way. I wonder how people live in such a place. Red lights are only used for decoration - as they give no indication of what traffic actually does. Traffic jams can be so severe that you can just turn off your car whilst you wait. You wonder how the serenity of the wild can degenerate into this chaos.

The scenes are surreal actually. You're crawling in downtown traffic, honking horns and gridlock with pedestrians going every which way. You could be forgiven if you thought of yourself being in Manhattan. (Actually, I think Manhattan traffic moves better than that in Kampala, Uganda!) But there are those subtle reminders, encountered in everyday life.

You see a woman walking down the street with a baby strapped to her back and a basket of bananas balanced on her head. Remember you're in Africa.

You go to lunch at a high class hotel - and encounter monkeys running wild in the hotel parking lot. Then you are reminded that you're in Africa.

You take your children for an afternoon at the zoo - and find the most exotic animals to look at are the donkeys, alligators, parrots and snakes. Then you remember you're in Africa.

Living and working in Africa seems to present some dichotomies of magnanimous proportions. It is a land of contrasts. For those that experience it - there is so much to tell and talk about. But for those who experience it - there is hardly anything you can say.

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