« March 2006 | Main | May 2006 »

April 30, 2006

Home Office

Yesterday I took delivery of my brand new hand-built desk


It was made by the same people who made the coffee table seen in the photo. They also made my bed (well, constructed my bed, my bed is always unmade)

I'm still slowly getting all set up at home, I can now work comfortable (well as comfortably as that wooden chair allows) while the electricity is on. The phone on the desk acts as my internet connection using CDMA Cell phone connections. I get about 3 hours of connection time on the battery after the power goes out.


Yes that's a fridge and a sink behind me, I just need to turn around and grab a cold one whenever I get thirsty!

April 28, 2006

A trip to the market

This afternoon I took a trip to the market with Rogers (who is the person who looks after my house and compound, I still don't know what to call his position) and his sister Susan who is on break from studying at a university in Kampala. Both are siblings of Moses's wife.

Here's Susan and Rogers buying some bananas.


I was told that because I was with them every vender asked twice what they normally charge when I am not there.

We bought some tomatos from this woman, who I don't think is hiding on purpose, I think I'm just a bad photographer.


One of the butchers:


I still like to pretend that the meat I'm eating came from a refridgerated case at Safeway.

Some of the stalls, the ones closest sell smoked, dried fish:


A few more pictures here

I'm Back!

Moses saves me once again. He spent the entire day yesterday going to Kampala by bus, buying an adapter and returning.

I'm happy to say that I now have my computer back and (when the power turns back on) I also have a new voltage regulator that I can use for all my electronics.

April 26, 2006


So today I got a new multi-plug extension cord so I could have both my internet connection and laptop plugged in at the same time (I pretty much have one socket per room so I needed some adapters).

I was so excited that the adapter could take my US style plug that I tried it without my Uganda style plug adapter, that just happened to have a fuse to protect against power surges.

You can guess what happened next....a huge power surge came through, blowing up my lightbulbs as well as the AC adapter for my laptop. I write this on the last 20% of my 1st battery (I have two more laptop batteries). Once those are gone, no more computer for me!

so until I can figure out how to get a new adapter I will probably just log in once a day to check my email.

Looks like I may be Kampala bound to try to find a universal adapter. I have found that almost no one will ship computer supplies to Uganda from the US or the UK.

Hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than later.

April 25, 2006

That's a big fish!

Man coming back from a local lake with a Nile Perch


April 24, 2006

I'm connected

I'm writing this from home!

That's right, I've got 64,000 bits a second of internet goodness delivered right to my home


Next step...get my solar panels installed...

VEF Meeting

This weekend I had the opportunity to travel with a couple guys from the Village Enteprise Fund to a small village about half an hour outside of town. They were going to distribute the second part of some grants to a few individuals in the village as well as participate in a meeting of an association some members of the village were forming to provide loans among themselves.

The building in which the meeting was held:


VEF is an organization that provides $100 grants to individuals in east africa who wish to start businesses. They get the grants in two $50 increments. Many of the businesses to which Kiva has has provided loans are businesses started with these grants but who have grown to the point that they need extra capital to further expand the business.

Some ladies who are participating in the association:


The group at the meeting:


More pictures are here

April 21, 2006

The dangers of being an "expert"

Yesterday I was walking to town to buy a newspaper and as I passed by the Human Rights Commission office, a couple people came out of the office and asked if I would help with their computer, being that I am the "American Computer Expert" come to help. I said sure, I'd be happy if I am able.

The problem was that they had brought a floppy disk over from their office but it had a virus and the compter in the human rights office refused to open it. I explained that there probably wasn't anything I could do but they asked if I would take a look at their computer. So we pile into a car and drive across town to the main government offices (I should note that the guy who recognized me works for VEF and is often in my office so they weren't just a bunch of strangers).

We get to their office and they have a PC that's probably a good 10 years old, running Windows 98 with only a floppy drive and no network connection. I have absolutely no idea what can be done. I mentioned that there are some free virus software available on the internet but I have no idea how you would get it on the computer.

Its hard to be an expert when you don't actually know how to do anything!

My best suggestion was to find someone who had some virus software and see if they can scan the floppy to remove the virus. Other than that I have no idea what they can do. I think Viruses are a big problem here as it seems that people still use a lot of floppy disks and share between computers.

April 20, 2006

Rainy Season

Last night I learned about the rainy season!


It rained all night and my house was still standing! I had a virtual zoo on my front porch as some of the local animals sought shelter. The local goats and chickens have learned where they can crawl under my fence to get in the yard. I was going to get my own goats but maybe I'll just let the neighbor's goats graze in my yard. I like to encourage the chickens in the yard as I figure every bug they eat is one less that will come into the house.

It is very interesting that almost none of the animals in the neighborhood are constrained. Apparently chickens will wander for miles then come home to roost. I can't get anyone to answer my question about how they tell which chickens belong to who though. I guess everyone just knows their own chickens.

April 18, 2006

All moved in

This weekend I moved into my house. They are still doing some work on it such as installing screen doors and security lighting, but otherwise its great! I was able to get a nice fridge locally so we didn't need to go to Kampala. I will be installing solar panels soon to help with the electricity outages. My internet connection should be installed this week (I hope!)

The weirdest thing for me is dealing with having someone around to look after the house and compound. Though anyone who has ever seen my apartment knows I should have had someone to help clean a long time ago.

I'm slowly getting out and meeting the neighbors. I have learned that my house is right in the middle of an Internally Displaced Persons Camp and is theoretically a protected area. Most of my neighbors had to leave their villages when the insurgancy hit the area a few years ago. They took with them their animals which is why I have cows and pigs living in the yards by me. Everyone has been extremely friendly and when I go for a walk lots of people have come up and welcomed me to the neighborhood.

The first time I left my house I got about 10 feet before I had about 40 kids around me. They are slowly getting used to me, I like to hang out on the front porch so I think I am becomming less of an oddity since they see me all the time now.

one of my new friends:


Today we went to Mbale the nearest sizable town (about an hour away) to figure out the money situation. There is a Standard Chartered bank there. I was able to use my Wells Fargo ATM card but not my citibank ATM, apparently there is no MasterCard here only Visa. Wells Fargo also limits how much you can take out each day. When I asked about setting up an account they wanted 1) my passport, 2) 3 passport photos 3) my address and lease agreement for the house 4) all immigration paperwork. No wonder no one has bank accounts here! I will have to see if I can get the daily limit upped for my wells fargo accound so I don't have travel once a week for cash.

We had a tasty lunch at Wash & Wills. I had the curry chicken and chips. I'm still surprised that the food is not very spicy here, there doesn't seem to be a big market for chiles.

April 13, 2006

The office building

Here is where I will be working (though once I get set up, I'll probably mostly be working from home).

This is the Kiva office building which we share with the Village Enteprise Fund.


The front reception room:


A frequent sight: starting the generator


and here's my office and desk:


My new house

Yesterday I was able to visit my new house for the first time. It's just a little down the ways from the guest house where I am currently staying.

You can see lots of pictures here:


Here's me standing in my doorway!


a full view:


Meet the neighbors:


The plan is to hit Kampala this weekend to get some supplies like a stove and fridge and hopefully I'll move in when we return.

April 12, 2006

Greetings from Uganda

I'm here at last...whew....

Took an uneventful flight from Dubai and landed about 3:00 in Entebbe. We spent the night in Kampala by the bus depot so we could make an early exit to Soroti, which it turns out is my new home town, not Tororo. Our offices were moved up here and are shared with some folks from the Village Enteprise Fund.

They are finishing up painting my house so hopefully I will be able to move in tomorrow. I need to get a few things like bed sheets before it is inhabitable.

The town is fairly small and is so far very friendly. We had a big feast last night and got to meet all the people I will be working with. Today I am in the office and it turns out I have my own office, with a door and everything. No more cubicles for me.

I will post some pictures soon!

April 10, 2006

Off to the airport....

...and now the adventure really begins....

see ya in Uganda!

April 9, 2006

A couple more pictures

Went down to see the beach, the water was nice and warm and very blue.



Here's a picture of the skyline from the beach area:


Goodbye buddy

We've had some good times, now its time to say goodbye.

My last Iced Venti Americano. I hope Starbucks doesn't go broke without me!


April 8, 2006

A couple pictures of Dubai

I'm pretty far from where they are building all the cool buildings (They will soon be building the new tallest building in the world here). I think the pointy towers are called the Emirates Towers.


I was mainly bumming around these side streets today.


I somehow stumbled into the textile market area.



Greetings from Dubai,

I made it safely to Dubai, the plane did do a little detour around Iraq but 3 movies later and I was on the ground.

I'd upload some pictures but here's what I get when I try to look get to Flickr to upload the pictures


So no one here will be able to enjoy my pictures of plastic gorrillas in marshmallow peeps.

I got in about 1:00 a.m. last night so headed straight to the hotel for some sleep, woke up nice and early and refreshed and feeling well and was out by 10:00 this morning the hit the starbucks next to the hotel. The weather was very mild and I rambled for a while along the back roads around the electronics area of the city, and went for a long walk along the creek that runs through the city.

By that time the weather starts getting hot and I can feel my forehead getting redder and redder...next time I'm wearing sunscreen and a hat! Anyway made it back to the hotel to sit in the last air conditioning I'll know for the next year and rest up to do some more exploring later this afternoon.

Dubai is a very cool city, there is construction everywhere and its very windy and sandy. I wish I liked to shop 'cause that seems to be the main thing to do here. I'll probably skip the giant malls and head to the spice market later.

And I gotta get me a shawarma!

Here's a picture from Dubai:


April 6, 2006

It's never easy!

Greetings from London!

The night before leaving, of course, I get deathly sick and didn't get any sleep. In the morning I was trying to pack and could barely move. I don't know if everything just caught up with me in the end but of course I could barely pack, and just realized I forgot my microphone for Skype, who knows what else I forgot.

I decided to spend a little money to upgrade to business class on the way over so I could at least try to sleep. Luckily I started feeling a little better and was able to sleep most of the way.

When I get to the baggage claim, I find that the airline had broken one of my wheels on my baggage. So here I was still feeling somewhat weak and trying to drag this 50 lb. bag with one wheel through heathrow to the bus station.

Luckily I was able to get an early checkin at the hotel and slept for another 5 hours and felt pretty good when I woke up so I went back to the airport and bought a new bag. I went cheap with the old bag and once again it costs me!

Hopefully I'll be fully well tomorrow for my trip to Dubai, otherwise I might just be seeing the inside of the hotel.

April 4, 2006

The Trip So Far

3/31 - Sacramento, CA
4/1 - Rawlins, WY
4/2 - Denver, CO
4/5 Denver - Chicago - London
4/7 London - Dubai
4/10 Dubai - Addis Ababa - Kampala


April 1, 2006

Always an adventure!

Today was my last day in California, or so I thought. I got up early and finished my packing, dropped off my keys at the office and took off with a car full of stuff (and one unhappy cat).

About 6 hours later I was just getting to Sacramento! It was stop and go traffic from the time I left home to Sacramento which usually takes just two hours. The rain was non-stop. The traffic clears up a little after Sacramento but the rain gets worse and worse. Then as the highway starts climbing toward Donner's Pass It's starts snowing really hard, they announce that all trucks must exit, then they close the highway due to the snow and multiple crashes.

So I turn around and have to backtrack about an hour before I can find a hotel. Luckily HoJo's allows animals in your room.

Tomorrow we start the adventure all over.