A whirlwind of activity, bittersweet goodbyes and the anxiety of moving and traveling, of wanting it to be over. My nest is my comfort zone. Even though five boxes have been shipped and many things sold and packed, there are still the odd bits that have not been sold or packed. It seems impossible to finalize the departure. The flat is stripped and unwelcoming. I decide I will throw myself upon the mercy of the Rugundas, where I will be with my close friends, comfortable and welcomed in peace and friendship.
The day comprises back-to-back appointments and meetings. One important stop is at my favorite hair salon, whose signage proclaims it is “for women only” and offers every sort of hair removal one can imagine. It is a smallish hole in the wall in the Equatoria Hotel mall of shops and is run by an Indian woman who has a blasé attitude but runs a tight ship. Water is heated in a hot pot, and it seems as if two of the employees are always late. They don’t seem to mind being admonished, and are soon chatting and laughing softly in luganda.
Next to drop off a package at Albert Cook Library and my neck-hanging device as a donation to The Surgery. I present the latter to Dick Stockley, who can’t let me get away without a number of “English sense of humor” wisecracks. I meet Chris Conte for a late lunch. We talk about the hardship side of this work in which, at some point, one feels worn down and in need of rest. He is looking forward to his family coming out next week for safari in Tanzania.
Back to the flat, which is still cluttered with chattel, and an immediate departure for the University Guest House to meet with Daniel. He has brought me a lovely painting, a wire gecko sculpture for Owen, and necklaces for Melanie and Paula. We talk about the cultural differences that can inform MedlinePlus African tutorials. For example, the word “laziness” in the nutrition tutorial in the works was criticized by the NLM side. The Ugandans use the word to describe someone (and there are far too many) who are too unmotivated to raise a healthy garden but just grow matooke. We talk over a strategy for employing references in order to make the case for what we believe will speak to Ugandan people in the village. Ian Munabi stops by briefly, and it is good to see him, back from Europe and a thesis defense.
Sitting at chairs and tables on the lawn outside the Guest House is so pleasant. The Dean and I meet for an hour, drink a glass of wine together, and discuss the errant student, the various activities of the year, and how we will continue to carry on collaboratively. It is a good discussion and a good way to leave the University. Shortly, Christine arrives with Rugunda‘s car and two police. I throw the rest of my stuff into suitcases, and we drive into the night, headed for Lubowa.
Jocelyn and Rugunda and their lovely home and staff all cushion my worries. In true salon fashion, a young surgeon stops by, followed by Allen Kagina, Jocelyn’s sister and head of revenue authority (Uganda now only depends on foreign aid for 30% of its budget). We talk about the Karamajong, one-week surgical clinics around the country, and the Obama campaign.
It is 9:30 p.m. when I depart with my hosts for a party in Muyenga. What might seem like too much for a long day was actually a great diversion with interesting people. I find out from an authority on the subject just how good my real estate investment is, and hear the life story of a self-made man who had a scholarship to Oxford in the 60s and has played a role in inventing and reinventing Uganda. A real entrepreneur whose next venture is a tea plantation in Kabale (in a collaborative effort with the founder of Good African Coffee (www.goodafrican.com).
View photo gallery