guest blogger: '‘0˚ Latitude, The Equator, or What Direction Does the Water Spiral?'

Sorry for the late update! We’ve been facing dirt storms caused by large trucks on dirt roads, squishing in taxis holding more people that they should and getting lost on lakeside trails in Fort Portal, West Uganda. But that blog post is for another day when I’ve recovered enough so as not to miss any detail. For now, here’s a lil post about the time I was at a spot where the Equator crosses through Uganda!

I had mentioned in a previous post the way that taxis work here. For those who are unfamiliar, here’s a brief explanation (to my knowledge sofar):

Matatu (taxi)

Matatu (taxi)

A Ugandan taxi is a van-like vehicle that can legally hold up to 14 passengers (this has not been upheld in a single taxi ride that I’ve been in). They pick up whoever they pass that needs a ride by the side of the road, or alternatively, people can go to a taxi park if they are in downtown Kampala. There are some taxis that only go around the city of Kampala while others that go further out of Kampala to other towns around Uganda. It is probably the cheapest mode of transport, besides walking or cycling, around Kampala, as you have to share the vehicle with other passengers and the waiting time before reaching your intended destination is unpredictable.

On the matatu ride to Masaka, the region in which the equator crosses through, we were seated at the back of the van, which turned out to be the best seats considering our long journey. We would stop every 20 minutes or so to either drop off or pick up passengers. At these drop-off points, we would then be bombarded by street vendors who would come to the van with food and drinks: these ranged from grilled meat to corn to biscuits and soft drinks. Their attention-seeking actions made me feel almost like an animal in the zoo, with vendors knocking on the windows, calling out ‘mzungu’ (foreigner, or implied, white person) to me and waving food in my face. It was slightly disconcerting as this was the first time I was really surrounded completely by Ugandans.

Fellow passengers

Fellow passengers

When we got to the equator itself, the excitement that I had felt about being there didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would. Apparently I’m forever doomed to hype myself up waaaay too much before an event, only to run out of energy by the time the event actually occurs. It’s not that my high expectations were not met, it’s just that I get so excited in the lead-up to it that I never thought about what I would actually do when I got there…hence my rather unoriginal pose in front of the structure showing exactly where the equator runs through. 

equator

But I did catch Sarah in selfie-mode (so I don't feel as bad):

Fun fact of the day: We know that water spirals either clockwise or anti-clockwise (don’t mind my Australian English) when you flush a toilet, depending on whether you’re in the northern or southern hemisphere, but what happens when it’s at 0˚ latitude? (Bear with me, I was never good at science and this discovery is as amazing to me as the discovery of cocoa!) IT DOESN’T SPIRAL AT ALL! Yeah… I was pretty astounded by it. Don’t mind me…

water

There were many craft stores along the side of the road. The storeowners would call out to us and we in turn would answer to their call by entering their store. The impulse-shopper in me was itching to buy everything in the stores, from elephant-print harem pants to cow-horn figurines to wooden earrings in the shape of Africa. Thankfully I didn’t bring too much money with me and so was limited by my budget. I was at least able to buy some small gifts for the family and some friends. 

road

Signing off, (still in shock),

Yi Yi