We’ve had a lot of power outages this week.  No one in the entire town of Kasese could see Mandela’s memorial because the power was out all day, which felt so wrong.  Mandela is everyone’s hero.

But I secretly like power outages, because everything is *quiet*.

This is not a quiet country.  Loud, amplified music is everywhere, a wedding blasting us out of bed at midnight our first night in Kampala, detonating up a hillside so I could still feel it entering my body through my knees after I put in earplugs and put on my noise cancelling headphones.  The same half song played over and over from the garden behind our hotel as we try to nap.  Music everywhere, the hotel staff coming into the small living room of the house we rent and turning on the television every time we turn it off.

The other night, the power went off at the project again, and the stereo the kids were listening to was replaced with a giggling fast card game illuminated with a headlamp, kids belting out songs, someone pulling out the drum.  The power came back on, and they went back to listening to music. “I liked it better in the dark,” I said to someone.

Every morning at 6:30, a … noise… knocks us awake, like a trowel burrowing sharply underneath my sleep.  Sort of a carnival sound, like steel drums crossed with diggeriodoo and wind-up monkey accordion with a little discordant theramin tossed in for spice.  All of the annoying instruments there are, in one.

Ruth, I said, to the woman who brings us food and hot water for coffee and fulfills our endless demands:  “What is that noise?  That music?”

“What music?”

I lead her outside by the hand, point in the general direction of over the fence and up the road.  “That.”

palace direction

She laughs.  “That is the Palace!  The king! His subjects dance for him.”

“The king?”

“Yes, the king.”

Me, scowling.  “The king is LOUD.”

Last night.  “Should I set the alarm or just let the King wake us up?”


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