A Fast Night and a Slow Day in Kampala

Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Kampala, Uganda (map)

While Jon was occupied with the ketchup, I chowed down on freshly grilled tilapia and chips, washed down with ginger beer.
After two weeks in pristine Rwanda, where the streets are swept clean each day and traffic flows in orderly single file, I wasn't prepared for the shock of Kampala. Amid the fog of dust and exhaust, an overwhelming disorder reigns on the boisterous streets of the Ugandan capital.

I had managed to stop here for a 24-hour layover on my way back to Washington, in order to visit my friend Jon (of the duo Jon & Jen, main characters in many of my tales from Morocco). While Jen was back home in England, Jon was working and holding down the fort at their new home in Kampala.

Together, Jon and I made the most of my brief visit by sleeping as little as possible. My memories from our night on the town include: zipping through evening traffic on the back of motorcycle taxis, Jon's insistence that I sample every brand of Ugandan beer, gorging ourselves on a goat feast at a

Rwanda Redux

Friday, March 18, 2011 | Kigali, Rwanda (map)

Two colleagues and I crunched into the back seat for a drive to the city of Butare.
Despite spending the first two weeks of March in Rwanda, I managed to return to Washington without even the hint of a suntan (as my friends have happily pointed out since my return). Unfortunately I spent much of this visit working in offices and conference rooms, with less free time than I enjoyed during my last trip in October. But with each visit, I continue to learn more about the country and its many peculiarities, and to strengthen my bonds with several Rwandan colleagues and friends.

Since my last trip here, Rwanda has beaten its own economic growth projections, completed its nationwide fiberoptic network, and won a $25 million grant from the African Development Bank to finance an environmentally friendly power plant that will run on methane gas found in Lake Kivu. Just a few more steps in Rwanda's march toward world domination...