A Hot Day In Gulu Town, Uganda

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Fruit vendors in Gulu town

[Reporter's Notebook]

GULU--It is a hot, dry, dusty and windy afternoon here in Gulu town, capital of the northern part of Uganda.

Weather focus of the day indicates that the temperature will fluctuate between 29 degree Celsius (84.2 F) and 37 degree Celsius (98.6) and that, no rain is expected.

There are beehives of activity at the Main Market, located at Kaunda Ground, as vendors and buyers interact freely exchanging goods for money.

“Karibu Customer”, vendors say to lure potential patrons that pass by their stalls; they speak in a mixture of the Kiswahili language and English. Karibu in Kiswahili means "welcome." Some of them, like those who sell second hand clothes, have recorded welcome messages aired through megaphones for customers.

It took me time to locate the stalls that sell passion fruits, the main fruits for making juice, on this hot Gulu day. Being the dry and hot season, I decided to file this story about how people here quench their thirst besides drinking mineral water. There are not many stalls selling fruits since this is off-season.

Betty, 28, was selling some passion fruits, which looked half-dry, lemon, mangoes and water-melon. Each big passion fruit goes for five hundred shillings (U.S. 16.5 cents) while very small ones are sold at one thousand shillings (U.S. 33 cents) for six fruits. Each big fruit is enough to mix one glass of juice.

Here are the ways people stay hydrated in Gulu:

Water here is bottled in 600 ml bottles and is sold for one thousand shillings per bottle. There are bigger containers though. Several companies bottle this water using different brand names. Two of the companies which bottle water are based in Gulu. The rest are based in Kampala, Uganda's capital.

Passion fruit juice is served mostly in big hotels like Bomah Hotels, Acholi Inn and Churchill Courts during breakfast. A few places like Uchumi Supermarket and Home Town Hotel sell fresh passion fruit juice at 1,500 shillings per glass.

There are also packed fruits; these are juices of various tropical fruits blended and packed in various sizes of containers. They also go by different company trade names and are sold at different prices. Some of the fruits blended in this package include mangoes, passion fruits and oranges.

Then there are sodas produced by local subsidiaries of Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola multinational companies. Pepsi-Cola brand has many more different products than Coca-Cola brand. Small bottles are sold at 1,000 shillings.

Beer  is popular for relieving stress by mostly employees and businessmen after the day’s work, for evening relaxation. Each bottle is 3,000 shillings.Very few people take it to relieve thirst.

Ice cream is mostly sold in Uchumi supermarket and is packed in various sizes for different prices. There are some who vend ice cream using bicycle. 


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