Saturday, October 24, 2009

Requisite 100th Posting

Well shit Himelein. Here are you, sitting at the airport in Uganda, after two weeks here and I don’t have anything of interest for a blog post. Usually, you can just phone these in, take a couple cute pictures of kids, re-tell an essentially dull story using fun and creative story telling language. But you don’t even have that this time.

I had this realization yesterday afternoon. I was working in the WB office when we basically had a communications meltdown. No internet at the office, sporadic power at the hotel… which basically caused me to have a meltdown. So I decided instead of throwing my laptop or the local IT consultant out of a window, I would write a blog post. – blink – blink – goes the cursor. Nothing to say. What could I use… Well, there is my 30th birthday that I celebrated two weeks ago with one of my buddies visiting from Nairobi, but there might be children that read this. Part of me things that it might be a useful life lesson for them to know that no matter how many times your teachers tell you that smart kids become doctors or lawyers that it is possible to structure your life in a way such that, at 30, you can be screwing around as much as I am as still be considered a success. The rest of me doesn’t want them to know how much alcohol one can consume in one evening and live. So scratch that. Oh wait! I could use that bit about the field visit I did to the district at the headwaters of the Nile where I got that beautiful hotel room on the lake only to discover that a Joba-like cloud of lake gnats descended on every lit surface as soon as the sun set – leaving me to spend the evening hiding under a blanket under the mosquito net reading by the light on my cell phone… Huh, that is only a sentence long…

You see the quandary I was in yesterday afternoon. So I busted out the “what to do in Kampala” brochure that was slowly mildewing to dust on the bulletin board of the Visiting Mission Room at the Bank. Done it… done it… done it… done it… Oh wait, here is one: the Baha’i Temple. It is one of only 8 in the world (one on each continent) and the only one in Africa. It is a nine sided building (one for each of the major religions of the world) on a hill outside the city with extensive gardens. Less than 20 minutes on a motorbike. Perfect. I will run up there, take a look at the view, snap a quick shot of the building, and bust it back down to hit the gym in time to see the Phillies-Dodgers replay at 5 pm.

So I choose a bike and driver from the mass of them hanging outside the hotel. I had had a rough trip on the way home the day before (with a burned out clutch (?) almost spilling me and my takeout off the back and into the middle of Buganda Avenue). The problem with picking a good looking bike is that it came with a good looking young man to drive it – and it is a tried and true fact that good looking young men with nice bikes drive *way* too fast. And a-way we go.
It becomes very apparent very quickly that this kid knows where the temple is from seeing it in the distance, not how to navigate Kampala’s twisting hills to actually get there. He sets off in a straight line towards it – cutting across main highways, through narrow neighborhood back alleys, and, at one point, what I am pretty sure was someone’s courtyard. Finally, we could see the road to the temple but there was a deep open drainage ditch between us and the four lane highway that we needed to cut across to get to it. No no no NO! Yes. Across we go. I had to grab this poor guy’s waist to avoid getting spilled. But we lived and made it to the temple.
And, as promised, it was nice. I don’t know if I would hire a Baha’i accountant (really, you count 8 continents huh?) but they do a nice house of worship. And the basic tenants of their faith seem pretty logical. Men and women are equal, allowing extreme poverty is a sin, be nice to each other, and the way to salvation is through scientific study and personal reflection. (Of course we relegate it to crazy fringe as we much prefer something with a good old testament stoning now and then…) Then I hopped back on the moto to get back to the hotel – realizing quickly that the only thing more frightening than the trip up was going to be the trip down as we had run out of gas and had to coast to the bottom and back across the highway to get to a gas station.

So there you go. The things I have to do for you people. And I hope you enjoy the requisite temple picture and this, the 100th blog posting.