I’m currently in Entebbe. Strangely enough it’s my first time to Uganda. I have several friends here and it is very close but I had never made the trip. This time was unavoidable. We have our regional meetings this week and though our region does not include Uganda, it is a generally central location for the various directors to gather – with the exception of the loads of people coming from New York.
I’m staying at a decent hotel on the north shore of Lake Victoria. Similar to other places I’ve stayed in East Africa, everything possible has been done to prevent guests from enjoying a view. Arriving late last night I assumed that my room on the non-lake side of the hotel was rather unfortunate. However I’m finding that not only has the lake view been strategically blocked by trees, there is a lakeside night club pumping music late into the night. In the end, it appears that my view of the parking lot and adjacent dumpsters will be a better option.
The facility is quite expansive. There is a grand entrance and a large atrium area. It would be more impressive to arrive by day since the hotel doesn’t seem to understand the concept of warm lighting. The main hall is filled with white, energy-saver lights that suck the color out of everything. When we arrived it made all of the weary travelers from NY look all the more weary.
The room is nice-ish. I’ve had no water at least once. Currently what is coming out of the tap looks more like dark tea. Burundi is a poor country but rarely do we get brown water.
We’ve only had a day of meetings but already it has been quite interesting. We had a two-hour briefing on security. Sub-Saharan Africa is a rough neighborhood in which to work and this discussion did nothing to encourage me about the direction things are going. While most of the conversation was around the Sahel, Central African Republic, Mali, Niger, Somalia and so forth, there’s no question that the situation in the Congo and potentially in Burundi (with the build up to the elections beginning) give us much to be concerned about. We are all the security focal points for our programs and we are responsible for the well-being of our staff. Tough situations arise from time to time, the most recent being our program in CAR in which we recently evacuated staff. Rebels beat up a few of our staff, looted the office and the program has been shut down until further notice. It’s a nightmare scenario but it happens in this line of work.
Now, at the end of day one, I’m back in the room. Turned on Al Jazeera to find out that a couple of explosions happened near the finish of the Boston Marathon. Not sure what the cause is yet. I suppose danger can find you anywhere.