Ezra, the administrator of Life in Africa’s new internet cafe, is working on configuring my laptop so that I am connected to the internet here. In the meantime, I am trying to make myself useful, Kiva-wise, by writing a blog entry.I have spent much of the past day trying to get a new powercord for my computer. It died sometime over the Easter weekend, which was unfortunate, since the computer stores were closed not only on Easter day, but Easter Monday as well, as I discovered when I went to downtown Kampala late yesterday afternoon. 

This morning, I went downtown again and, after visiting 6 stores (luckily all in the same neighborhood) and walking a mile to the one bank that takes my ATM card (I hadn’t brought enough cash, and credit cards are taken almost nowhere), I purchased a new powercord.

Kampala seemed incredibly remote before I got here. I carefully packed Q-tips, unsure if they would be available. Now I recognize how easy it is to acquire many of the things that I need, or simply things I want. My stupid mistakes and technical difficulties can be fairly easily overcome, as when I forgot to attach an adapter when I plugged in the battery charger. Another was available in fairly short order.

At the same time, some things I took for granted are much harder to come by. I needed to print out copies of borrower profiles once I got here and accessing a printer meant taking a matatu (taxi) to the next neighborhood and purchasing copies at 500 shillings a page (about 30 cents a sheet). I am used to printing anything and everything whenever I want, but now I think carefully about whether or not I really need that page. Given the usual state of my office at home, this is a good thing.

The primary difference for me in my acquisitions is the time that it takes: taking a matatu instead of hopping in the car; going to six computer stores instead of Best Buy; waiting for someone to help me print out my files instead of doing it myself. And I admit I miss the ease of doing these tasks at home. I’ve lived alone for a long time and considered myself to be very self-sufficient. Now I’m being asked to do things in a way that I haven’t been asked to since I was a kid: to share, to wait, to take my turn, and to not always expect things to go my way. I’m glad to report that I haven’t had any temper tantrums–so far.

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