Wednesday June 22, 2011
We made it to Masindi! Our 4 hour trip was pretty uneventful until we arrived at out hotel only to find out that they gave the rooms we reserved to someone else. They then said that they booked us rooms at a neighboring hotel until they had rooms available but the other hotel also gave away our rooms. So we spent the next hour going from hotel to hotel looking for vacancy as well as trying to negotiate a reasonable rate. That is something that is very different about Africa as compared to the US. Prices are often negotiable rather than set and the amount you end up paying is often related to how persistent you are. For example, we had been paying $30,000 Ush each way (just under $15) for our rides to and from the Makerere University- this was probably only about 10 miles at the most but took usually 30-60min depending on the traffic. But on the last day, we asked the MakCHS student to help us negotiate and he got us a rate of $23,000 Ush and seemed totally fine with the deal. Anyway, back to Masindi. Once we finally got a hotel, we met the Busoga Trust America (BTA) guys at a restaurant, ironically at our original hotel that gave away our rooms, and had a nice meal, that ended up being “on the house” because the owner was very sorry for the mix-up. We had a great meeting with the site managers for BTA. We were able to talk about their process of providing shallow dug wells for safe water and how they present programs on sanitation and hygiene as well as discuss the research. By the way, the electricity has been out for 2 days in Masindi. I still have electricity and lights because the hotel is using a generator, as everyone in town seems to be doing. That is nice but the generators are a bit loud.
PS: It turned out that the electricity was out for a little more than 3 days! But almost everyday it has some on-off time.