Stepping out of Entebbe Airport was like a dream. Something about the clear air, darkness ... lacking of familiar American shops, people with places to go and things to see.
Here, already I could tell, it's different. It's dark. no parking lot lights. A foggy sky hinting of only a few stars. Hillsides cast a darker shadow against a moonless sky. And the air. It's cool. It's fresh. It smells like trees and earth. We loaded our bags into the two vehicles. I can't make out what they are, but it really doesn't matter. They are our way to sleep.
I climbed into the back of what I derived to be a Land Rover.
We pass a part of Lake Victoria and the fragrance of water bounces across the inlet, to surprise us on the breeze. The 40 or so minute drive back to Kampala could only be described as a live painting, a circus for the senses. People are busy. It's 9:30 at night and crowds are shoulder to shoulder inside some streetside shops. Tiny lanterns light circles of friends, strangers, women, children, who gather to do whatever it is they do on a Friday night. Random pool tables are scattered, sheltered under wooden huts, lit with dim fluorescence and tiny kerosene lamps. We are not that much different, though we are very different indeed. Restaurants. Groceries. Electronics. Tiny TVs scatter flimsy countertops, several gathered to observe the colorful broadcast. Women wrap children in arms, scurry across medians and four lanes of traffic, baby nuzzled close. The closer we get to Kabalagala, the less the air smells of earth. The more it smells of man. Diesel. Kerosene. Gasoline. Trash. I am reminded that EPA compliance doesn't really matter here. The thick air strikes me, a dull headache throbs from behind my eyes. Or maybe that's from the 24 hours of travel I've just completed.
So we are here. In a small, humid white room. One mosquito net hangs from the ceiling. I have found my Ambien and am ready to bid goodnight to Kampala.