It probably took longer than it would have in the United States, but we finally got our car fixed… sort of. A month and a half after we had deposited our broken vehicle at the repair shop, the mechanic called to say that it was ready for pick-up. And not a moment too soon – S had a friend in town and we had been planning a weekend getaway with her. We cancelled our plans to hire a car and driver, excited to have our own wheels again after driving a busted Mazda rental the better part of the last two months.
Jinja, a town of less than 100,000 inhabitants, is a Mecca of sorts for thrill-seekers who find themselves in East Africa. Situated on the Ugandan shore of Lake Victoria, about 85km east of Kampala, Jinja sits astride the source of the world’s longest river, tempting visitors with the unique opportunity to raft the mighty Nile. Although the recently-constructed Bujagali Falls dam flooded one of the river’s premier rapids, there is still plenty of big water for rafting enthusiasts. Early one morning, we took a boda to Red Chilli Hideaway, Kampala’s most popular backpacker hostel, and claimed the last seats on a bus overflowing with eager tourists for the hour-long ride to Jinja.
Despite fielding three full teams at this year’s beach tournament, which we host, putting together a team for the 7Hills Classic, East Africa’s other major Ultimate frisbee tournament, is like pulling teeth. Last year, we only had half a dozen Nairobi players, with the rest of the team composed of a grab bag of players from all over Western Kenya. This year, D spent two months pestering people to make the financial and time commitment to travel to Kampala for the tournament. Last year’s heart-breaking loss left a bitter aftertaste and we wanted another shot at the championship.
One of the most memorable events of D’s A-100 training was attending the filming of the first in a series of conversations on diplomacy between Hillary Clinton and former Secretaries of State. Moderated by Charlie Rose, that evening’s conversation featured Henry Kissinger and covered the whole gamut of hot-button foreign policy topics, from the rise of China to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the elusive peace process in the Middle East. Asked by Rose what advice he would give Clinton on several tough issues, Kissinger replied that he would not presume to advise this Secretary of State because she had matters well in hand. Listening to her describe her position on various contentious subjects with a subtle mix of humor and eloquent directness, it was hard to disagree with that assessment. Although D does not typically go in for celebrity, cult-of-personality adoration, he went home full of admiration for his new boss.
Twenty years ago today, a small Russian child who was a couple of months shy of his tenth birthday set foot on American soil for the first time. He was old enough to know that something momentous had been building in his young life and that it had finally come to pass, but he had no way of anticipating all the possibilities that a new life in the United States had opened for him and his family.