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Uganda, April 7, 2003

Kampala's Swimming Pool Survey

Pickling myself poolside!

and its damn cold!

It just calls to me!

sweetness is my weakness

Ain't that pretty!

and I am so sweet too

ISO: A cutie to direct me

Now while my friends in Washington DC are watching a freak snowstorm dust the city, I'm on the lookout for something a lot more fun: the best swimming pool in Kampala.

This task is a little harder than you might think, for there is much competition here, with pools at most of the major hotels, one at the University, one next to Lake Victoria, and one even in the middle of a bar. Moreover, I have to spend a day at each pool, swimming, sunbathing, and sampling the bartenders' skills. Still, it must be done, and I've taken it upon myself to complete the difficult task.

So, in order of luxury, here are the swimming pools of Kampala, Uganda:

  • Sheraton Hotel Kampala: While it doesn't really surprise that the most luxurious hotel in Kampala would have the best swimming pool, the Sheraton actually wins not on the design of the pool for swimming, as its circular with an island in the middle, but it is the second coldest pool in Africa (the Novatell in Arusha is first, with ice floes in the deep end!), taking your breath away when you jump in.

    Then add to that the fully stocked bar and extensive, if expensive menu, and the $5 USD entry fee allows a complete retreat from Africa. Well, an almost complete retreat, for while I never saw a single African swimming, the staff is all African, with one guy a little too eager to watch me shower.

  • Entebbe Beach Resort: Okay, so its technically not in Kampala, but Entebbe, the town just on Lake Victoria that has the lakeport and airport, does have the best beach resort I've seen in Africa. With a huge and cold pool, perfect for laps, a large manicured lawn filled with shade trees and tables, and even a white sand beach to swim in the lake, it definitely is worth the forty minute matatu ride from Kampala, as the locals know.

    Each weekend, the resort is packed with Ugandans escaping the city and if it wasn't for the inability of the bar to make a margarita or daiquiri (they didn't have mix or even a blender!) it would be the best spot in Kampala to get a tan or just lounge.

  • Bar TLC: While this is the place to be late Friday and Saturday night, it also happens to have a full health club somehow attached to the bar. Yep, only in Africa can you drink and lift! Oh, even better, they have a huge swimming pool set right next to the bar, with only a little rope holding back the drunken masses at 3am. Can you say 'liability'?

    And it's a distant third as the pool is surrounded on three sides by walls, killing any breeze that tries to cool you, and the water is lukewarm, which isn't good for suntanning in equatorial heat.

  • Makerere University: As the cheapest option, about $1 USD, at the University pool you get what you pay for. It's a rectangle of semi-clear water, filled with jumping and splashing kids, lean muscular swimmers, and random students trying to cool off after classes.

    Actually, while the pool itself isn't much, even though I did have a fun time teaching the kids 'Marco Polo' and freeze tag, it does make a great excuse to walk the University grounds, admiring the beautiful layout and asking beautiful students directions to the pool.

  • Fairway Hotel: Even though the swimming pool itself is better than the University pool, on the day I went there, the complete lack of anyone near it, be that swimmers or even hotel staff, was a signal I heeded after walking around the pool area looking for life.

Uganda, March 31, 2003

Ugandans Don't like Bush Either

Ugandans understand the horror of a stupid President Pray for peace Too busy to hate After my Ethiopia Experience, I've returned to Uganda so that when I leave Africa in mid-April, I'll leave on a good note. In that, I've been having some of the most interesting conversations with the...

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Uganda, February 9, 2003

Birthday Boy on the Boat

It's not 30, but 29 for the second time! Swab the deck, matie! Here I am, turning twenty-nine for the second time, while crossing Lake Victoria on a bucket of bolts that would do the 'Africa Queen' proud. In between kamikaze mosquito attacks, I wonder what I am doing here....

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Uganda, February 5, 2003

White-Knuckle Rafting the Nile

Oxygen is under-rated when you swallow half the Nile While the locals tease her by going over the many rapids just holding onto plastic jerry cans, we, the intrepid white-water rafters from distant lands, are going to challenge the mighty Nile River's rapids in life vests, helmets, big boats, and...

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Uganda, February 1, 2003

Just Kicking It in Kampala

Don't let the Kampala Tax Man get ya! Watch it, Buddy! pick one, any one! mugging for the camera not the nightlife I wanted... Today I'm gonna take you on a little tour of Kampala, Uganda's equatorial capital, and the fun starts even before I step out into the equatorial...

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Uganda, January 31, 2003

And Uganda Express Wins 1-0!

Uganda Express owns Nakivubo Stadium! Come on Uganda Express! As the cool breeze attempted to defuse the afternoon heat, giant ibis rode the currents to new heights while down below a pitched battle between Uganda and Somalia raged. To the beat of sticks and fists against drums and metal signs,...

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Uganda, January 29, 2003

Wednesday's To Do List: Cross the Equator ~check, Forge the Nile ~check

Two for one: cross the equator and the nile in one day! Can we go now? Better than a Day Job Down Below: the Nile River! Today is was time for me to pack up and leave Kisumu for Uganda's capital, Kampala and the trip was an adventure, starting with...