The Travelling Trooper Is Jammin’

I was excited to check out William’s reggae session. I found a boda boda in the morning, and called William so he could give the driver the directions.

When I arrived, I walked into the studio and quietly sat down to enjoy the show.

The band sounded great as far as I was concerned, but the man on the mic didn’t seem to agree. He kept stopping the band every few seconds to criticize this or that. I couldn’t tell if he was a true artist or a true diva. But, I shouldn’t judge; he’s the one in a successful band, not me.

The thing is, though, out of everybody in the band, he seemed like the least talented of the bunch to me. Dude spent the first half of the rehearsal sitting on a chair with his hand under his shirt, rubbing his belly, lazily looking up at the ceiling while he sang half-heartedly into the mic. I was so confused. (I’d later find out that he actually wasn’t the singer; he was the manager. The singer couldn’t make it that morning.) Regardless, though, the band sounded fantastic, and I was quite sad about missing the show.

Afterwards, the bassist approached me and we started chatting. Just like William, he was a very friendly and outgoing guy. He quickly exchanged Facebook information, and as I went to add him, I noticed that we had a mutual friend: one Matija Kamikovski! I went to high school and university with that guy!

I screamed out in disbelief and asked him how he knew Matija, and he replied, without hesitation, “Matija plays in the Blues Experience with me. He’s the best blues guitarist in all of Uganda.” Well then…

And they were playing a show on Saturday! And I’d be here for that one! Huzzah!

I joined William while he ran a few errands before we arrived back at his school. I called Olive, and she arrived shortly after, carrying the newest addition to my wardrobe: A handmade t-shirt. She didn’t make it specifically for me, but she made it! So that was pretty cool.

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We went for lunch and then walked around the university where she completed her undergraduate. Olive is a high school teacher, though she is considering changing professions, since teachers get paid squat here. I got a thorough tour of the whole campus. We eventually sat down and enjoyed a nice chat about this and that for a few hours before heading back to meet William at his school.

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This university mascot has got some serious cojones!
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These freakish dinosaur birds are all over Kampala.

The three of us agreed to go out and have some fun together, and so after William had his car washed, we headed to an Irish bar by the name of Bubbles O’Leary, where some of William’s friends were playing. We sat outside and enjoyed the show. They played some great blues numbers and ballads. The trumpet and the guitar were particularly impressive. They also played some more traditional dance songs from Uganda and Congo. Olive tried her best to teach me how to dance, bless her; but my hips and legs just wouldn’t cooperate. I was glad to provide some additional entertainment.

At around midnight, Olive and I decided to call it a night. William was having fun with his lady friend, so we left him there. We hopped on a boda boda and Olive instructed him to drop her off first, and then take me to Bunga.

But then a weird thing happened. The driver pretended that he was out of gas. We pulled over on the side of the road, and he acted as if he was tinkering with something. After a minute or two, he just got on the bike and drove off. Just like that.

Now we were stranded in the dark in the middle of nowhere in a city that I’d repeatedly been told to avoid at night. Fantastic.

We walked for a couple blocks until we arrived at a gas station. I wasn’t scared or anything. Not at all…

It was while we were walking that I realized that we’d completely forgotten to pay our bills! It was a hefty $30. Our poor server would get hit hard. I gave Olive my share of the bill, and she promised to go back to the bar the following day and pay Anthony, our server.

When we arrived at the gas station, we asked a boda boda driver to take us to a stage where we could arrange for another driver to take us home. He instructed me to give him my backpack so that nobody would try to swipe it while we were driving. Seriously, Kampala?!

When we arrived at the stage, Olive walked like she owned the place. We walked past dozens of drivers, each of whom asked if we wanted  a ride. She ignored every single one of them and headed straight to a small restaurant. She asked the kid working there if he could arrange a reliable driver for us. (Supposedly boda boda drivers are known for being crooks and robbers, but I’ve yet to see this. Me thinks people are just very distrusting of strangers and automatically think the worst of people–kinda like back home.)

By the time I finally arrived back at Charlotte and Peter’s in Bunga, it was just past 1:00 am. I felt terribly because the security guard had to knock on the maid’s window to wake her up so that she could let me in. And the door makes so much noise! I felt like I was waking up the entire neighbourhood! I apologized to the maid, Peter, and Charlotte the next morning, and none of them gave a damn. Man, people in Uganda are just the nicest.

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