The other day I was feeling a bit frustrated that so much of this trip to Uganda has been taken up with delayed flights, lost luggage, visa stresses, and logistical details that we had not been able to just hang out and have fun like we had thought we would be able to. I voiced this frustration to Paul, in hindsight I see that I could have done it in a little more gracious way, but he still received it and was patient with my disappointment of the last few weeks. I have loved loved LOVED being with Paul and finally having time together again, but I didn’t think that it would be spent on the phone with airports, filing paperwork, and making countless trips to town because the Wi-Fi at the place I am staying keeps getting hacked and all the data is being used.
So, Sunday morning, as I was finishing breakfast, my sweet Paul came in and asked me if he could make a request. I was still in a bummed out mood from the night before when all the stresses were feeling a little heavier than usual, but I obliged him anyways. He proceeded to ask if I could be ready in 30 minutes because there was a festival in Kampala (the capital city of Uganda) and he wanted to go with me to check it out. I was more than happy to grant his request!
Off we went. I was very very excited and couldn’t wait to see what this African version of a county fair was really going to be like. As soon as we reached town we started seeing evidences of this festival. Roads were closed, stages were being assembled, and people were walking all directions to make their way to the festival. As we approached the security check Paul was wisked through one of the three men’s lines and I had to wait behind about a dozen school children in the women’s line. Here in Uganda they are pretty strict about only women checkin women for bombs and only men checking men. I don’t mind, except when it means that I have to wait in such a long line when 2 other lines are completely empty of people, but rules are rules.
After making it inside, one of my new favorite Ugandan pop songs by Busy Signal was blaring on the speakers, I knew this was going to be a good time. As we made our way down the street guys started bringing me plastic marti gras masks and balloons doing their darndest to convince Paul to buy one for me. I begged him not to. It was so funny though that as the festival progresses, we were one of the few that was not supporting one of those crazy masks. After passing the guy on roller blades doing tricks down the street and the ladies on the side walk selling their moonshine made from banana leaves, we found our favorite milkshake spot. He was seriously set on this being a great day. We grabbed our chocolate milkshake and a plate of fries and positioned ourselves outside for some serious people watching. There wasn’t much of a conversation between us because we were so distracted by the sights all around, but also because the music was so loud that we had to practically yell at each other just to understand what the other was saying. It didn’t damper our mood.
Soon we noticed some SUVs with blackened windows roll down the street and that was the start of the parade. I had no idea there was going to be a parade! Immediately I was standing and out came my phone so I could get as many pictures as possible. There was music, dancing, bands, guys on motor cycles, everything you would expect from a parade….African style. One of the floats was for a devotional that is very popular in East Africa, we had about 14 people try to give it to us, the refusals became very creative, as well as the attempts to place them in our hands, bag, pants pockets…oh Uganda. Then there was the float for birth control…er….protection. It was both uncomfortable and comforting at the same time. They were handing out free protection and information on how to prevent HIV. There has really been a lot of progress in this area in Uganda. I love how people are more aware and they are making a lot of reforms. Paul and I were thrown quite a bit of “Life Guards” and just smiled and laid them on the ground for someone to come and pick them up. They were gone by the end of the parade.
But the party didn’t end with the fanfare of the parade. We made our way down the street to find vendors selling all of their wares and street food being fried up as performers were taking the stage to wow the crowds with their dance moves and songbird tunes. My senses were going wild. It also just happened to be the hottest day that I think I have experienced here, so we had our share of bottled water, found some $3 sunglasses for me and a baseball cap for Paul. We were in business. As we made our way up and down the street our tanks hit empty, and we decided that our enjoyment of the Kampala City Festival was ending soon. Before we were miserable we made our way out of the crowd, found a cafe to have something to drink and some little food so that we could gain our energy back to grab a taxi home.
I was so thankful that Paul gave me 30 minutes to get ready and took me into town for our day of fun. I love Uganda so much, and sometimes when things are frustrating I forget why it’s such a wonderful place. Ugandans know how to have a good time with their music, dancing, cheap wares, street food, and the rest. I can’t wait to keep enjoying this country with Paul before we head back to Kenya next week.