We were sitting in downtown Jinja in the mechanic district where most of the mechanics, body shops, auto and truck parts, etc., are concentrated. This follows the African pattern of organizing their marketing by category so most of the shops of a specific type are located in the same area or district rather than the western style of trying to be the only one of your type in an area. We happened to be repairing our generator – all it needed was a small air intake adjustment lever, but the part had to be pirated from a used part, so the mechanic and Alfred were disassembling and reassembling busily at the trunk of the car were the generator was. I was sitting in front, feigning disinterest.

I have developed some skills at feigning disinterest over the last several years, which is hard for me because I’m interested in all of the cultural exchanges that go on around me. So I learn with my ears but keep my eyes averted and use a bored expression as if I couldn’t care less whether they fix “Alfred’s” generator or not. This particular skill is necessary because any musungu interest at all in a business matter of any kind tends to drive a $3 purchase (which this should be – around 7-8,000 shillings) up to a $10 purchase (20-30,000 shillings).

Only after the price has been settled can I show interest. Then I am all smiles, trying out my Lusoga dialect, asking questions, etc. But for now, I am apparently in another world, just along for the ride in this Ugandan’s car. This is not to say that I don’t ever enter into active negotiation, which can be fun, but for most utilitarian projects like this, I let Alfred lead as it saves time and energy. In this manner, I manage to have to pay an inflated musungu price only about once a day. It just can’t always be avoided.Strange Place for Such a Thing

I was busily avoiding all interaction, which affords me the opportunity to observe other things which I generally would miss. Yesterday was once of those opportunities. The picture here shows a power pole that was just across the street from where we were parked. This was in downtown Jinja. You notice that diamond-shaped aura at the top?

That is a spider web. It is about six feet from top to bottom and six feet from side to side. It is so thick that it looks able to trap a small bird. I always think Uganda must be a great place for spiders, but, thankfully, I rarely see any. I saw more large, colorful and monster-like spiders in the garden in Southern California when I was a child than I have ever seen here in Uganda. But this web was a new one for me. It is either a very industrious spider or a colony of spiders who make their living from the bugs attracted at night to the street light that extends off the pole.

I asked Alfred if he knew what kind of spider this was, but he gave me the standard non-committal Ugandan answer which portrays that no one ever thinks about such things or notices them…they are just part of the scenery – “Spiders? There are spiders? I’ve never noticed.”

Nightmare ColonyIf you look closely at the picture, you will probably agree with me that the poor city worker who has to change out that street light or repair the lines at that pole notices them. It would take quite a bit of spider-fighting before anyone could do much at that light pole – the spiders seem to be well in control.

I haven’t seen this before. But perhaps they’ve just blended into the scenery. I don’t think so though. Arachnophobic that I am, I tend to notice spiders, especially if I have to interact with them. Feigning disinterest with spiders doesn’t get me very far. And even though I generally manage to avoid them, in my family, where the women all have a healthy arachnophobic bent, I am usually the one who has had to fight the battles. I have to say, upon deep consideration, any plans I might have entertained to take up utility pole climbing have now been laid firmly on the back burner.

Enjoy the pics. Here, it’s just part of the scenery.