Monday, 26 August 2013

The First Few Days

Aug 22

1) Pearson airport. A beginning to the 24 hours or so of travel. Biggest impression is the bad beer on tap. I never ordered corporate beer, but Canadian was the cheapest. Never again...

Aug 23

1) Managed to sleep away the first flight. I putter around Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, and eat a $20 "full English breakfast."

2) 3 gate changes provided some much needed exercise, before boarding a full flight to Kigali, which departs 1.5 hours late. Much Dutch apology from the KLM pilot. At least two large groups of foster parents on their way to visit their wards in Kenya and Uganda - one Canadian group, one American. I sit next to a woman from Winnipeg who has been sponsoring a child in Kenya for many years. The child is now 14, and this will be their first meeting.

3) 8 hours or so, and we arrive for a stopover in Rwanda. I long to get off the plane, but we are not allowed. More passengers join us, and we are off to Entebbe.

4) We arrive at Entebbe. Two big changes from my last trip here: we no longer walk down stairs onto the runway - they now have the retractable hallways for de-planing; and foreigners are now photographed and fingerprinted upon going through customs - an unwelcome copycatting of the US Homeland Security system. I wonder if the fancy gear is from an American source. Globalization in action?

5) The fabulous Pamela Acaye meets me with a high leg kick, and arms akimbo - much more welcoming than a sign with my name. I'm through, and arrived in Uganda! It's just after midnight.

That Night (Aug 24)

1) From Entebbe it's about a half hour drive to Kampala. We go directly to a bar where we meet the other conference organizers - Aida Mbowa and Mumbi Tindyebwa. Much hilarity and drinking ensue. Biggest impression is how much better Nile Special beer is than Molson Canadian!

2) I collapse into bed at 3:30 AM. Already, this conference is fun.

Pamela, Mumbi, and Ross
(photo stolen from Facebook)
Aug 24

1) Morning coffee with Pamela. Jet lag and a malaria pill on an empty stomach make me feel unwell. We eat at a Chinese / Indian restaurant named Calypso ("welcome to Uganda" says Pam in explanation). I feel better.

2) we walk to the conference venue: a new establishment called Buzz. It is gorgeous. Three large rooms under an enormous thatched roof, with open-air walls, and a patio. Wonderful food. The manager (Kaval Ratel) is very amenable to the coming invasion by theatre artists. We sit and talk. The organizers plan and I check my email. The vibe is relaxed and productive.

I realize how much I like it here.

Aug 25

1) Breakfast with Donna Michelle S. Bernard (CDN playwright) and Gord Rand (CDN actor / filmmaker). Again I am reminded at how wonderful things like eggs taste in Africa. Zero processing. Fresh.

2) Some strolling, some talking, some eating. More people begin to arrive: Binyavanga Wainaina from Kenya; Jennifer Brewin, Nova Bhattacharya, and Leah Simone-Bowen from Canada; and Kiki Katese from Rwanda. I will teach tomorrow morning, and I begin to get nervous...

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