The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #111


A reader writes:

Hmm … Cornfield signifies "Kansas", but there's something odd about this particular Kansas cornfield … oh, got it!  This corn is green, as in "has been rained upon within the past 2 1/2 months," which doesn't describe the vast majority of Kansas cornfields this summer.  Well: "Kansas" is still my best guess; but in looking again more closely, there's something else vaguely un-Kansas-like about this picture that I can't quite put my finger on but don't have further time to figure out just now.

Another smartass writes:

Finally one taken nearby, in Bethesda, Maryland. The circular objects may be mistaken for thatch-roofed dwellings, but they are in fact giant mushrooms. This is the rough of the thirteenth hole at Burning Tree Country Club – the aptly-named Mushroom Hole. The photograph would have been taken from the second floor balcony of the Clubhouse. The evidence of habitation (especially clotheslines) among the mushrooms allows us to isolate the date of the image: the autumn of 2011, during the Occupy Burning Tree movement. Please, make these contests a little harder in the future.

Heh. Another gets us on track:

It's Africa: red tropical soils, small farms, woodsmoke, typical tropical highland trees but no topographical hints in the hazy background. I am going with Kakamega because when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya '82-84 that province was (in)famous as the most densely populated "rural" area in the world. Obama's dad is from near there, but it's also Luhya country, though with the recent ethic strife that might have changed.


Gee, those huts are rather ubiquitous in Sub-Saharan Africa.  My daughter-in-law says those could be dorms for a mission school.  Uganda maybe?  No, how about Kenya?  Malava had some grey walls on some of their huts.  But I'm going with Eldoret, Kenya simply because my son did a summer internship at a primary school there.


It has to be Africa, but where? Started the search using terms, Africa and maize. Using Google Images, I first found a picture with similar thatched roof huts taken in Mozambique, but the more I looked Zimbabwe was also a candidate. Hmmmm, which to choose. I'll go with somewhere in or around Harare, Zimbabwe as it seems to be the epicenter of this country's maize agriculture. I'm probably wrong. I never get these and refuse to spend no more than a few minutes of time, as it could easily eat up an entire day, weekend, week, month, etc. But, if I'm right, no need to send me a book. I'll be happy with the Dish acknowledgment in a post.


The vegetation, the "humpty-back" hill in the background, the traditional huts, and most of all the maize planted on every square foot of the yard makes this look like Zambia to me, and I am just guessing the outskirts of Lusaka. Maize is used in the national dish Nshima, a nutritious polenta-like staple. For what it’s worth, Zambians are terrific cooks. Because of underdeveloped transportation infrastructure, all food is essentially local, organic, and fresh. I am certain that concealed somewhere in this photo beyond the maize is a beautiful vegetable garden, with kale and potatoes and peppers and all manner of goodness.


I lived in Africa for a number of years and this photo could really be anywhere, though probably somewhere not far from the equator, given the lushness of the vegetation. It could be Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania or a number of other countries. So then I thought about the timing of the photo and why someone might have sent it to you last week.  Given that South Sudan just celebrated its first anniversary on the 9th of July, I'm going to hope that one of your readers was there to celebrate the anniversary and sent in a photo as a souvenir. I'll go with Juba.


Googling "Africa, corn, round thatched huts" yielded many similar photos.  The window, road and utility wires suggests the photo comes from the fringes of an urban area,  and (sadly) Kampala is the only city I can readily name in Uganda. So that's my guess …

Good guess – it's Uganda. Another gets closer:

First time entering the contest! I figured if I kept reading, someone would send a picture from somewhere I've been. The huts shown in the picture look like those I have seen in Acholiland in northern Uganda:

Kitgum IDP camp August 2007

They grow maize there too. Judging from the fact that there is electricity and a paved road, I'm thinking this was taken near one of the larger towns in Acholiland, so my vote is Gulu. (If it's Kitgum or Pader, I'll be really annoyed because I've actually been there, while I've only stopped in Gulu on a stop of the local plane service. But I don't remember any paved roads in those towns, or not in 2007 anyway, when I was last there.)

Gulu it is. Another:

I KNEW the picture in last week's contest was taken near Dewey Beach, Delaware, as I'd been there once before, but I couldn't figure out exactly where and frustratingly gave up. So this week, my first thought, after ruling out Delaware, was an African village. So, after a couple searches for thatched roofs and Africa, it led me to the Advocacy Project website with a post from 2010 and an image that was very similar to the one you posted today!


It referenced Gulu Uganda, so an image search for Gulu Uganda lead to another picture which was almost the same as the one above, but this one referred to the Acholi Ber Hotel. (Strangely enough, my mother is Uganda right now for the first time in her life … must be good Karma.) A search for that hotel led to the attached picture. We figured the 2nd floor was a bit too low from the angle of the shot, the 4th too high. So we are going with the 3rd floor, furthest window on the right looking at the picture.

Another sends the same hotel photo but with an added arrow:

AcholiFor the VFYW contest posted 14 July, my guess is the window at the east (right) end of the third floor of the Acholi Ber Country Hotel, Plot 25 Market rd (according to the Google map, although other websites call it market street), in Gulu, Uganda.

I found this by doing a Google image search for "huts across from hotel."  This search happened to turn up this travel blog that includes a photograph so similar that I think your contest photo must have been taken from the same hotel: the Acholi Ber Country Hotel.  Many of the same structures are identifiable in the background, and the telephone/power lines are also a match.  Your submitter's photo is from a lower vantage point, I'd guess on the 3rd floor, near the east end of the building, overlooking Market road and looking southeast. I've attached a picture of the front of the hotel I guess, with an arrow marking the location of my guess.

Another sends the same photo but with a red arrow marking the room right below. Another:

A bit of luck helped me out this week. The VFYW photograph reminded me of one I saw a year or so ago in an article about the "internally displaced persons" camps in northern Uganda. Google Maps showed that Kitgum and Gulu have among the largest of the IDP camps, and I thought that Gulu was the more likely location. So I searched images of Gulu, Uganda and found a photograph of a 5-story hotel with wrought iron railings on the front balconies, the Acholi Ber Country Hotel on Market Road. Then I saw another one that was very similar to the VFYW photograph. Going back to Google Maps, I was able to confirm the location, though Google Maps has the wrong building labelled as the hotel:


I'm guessing the VFYW photographer was on the third floor (second floor for someone from the UK) on the right-hand side of the building as you face it. I've circled the spot in the attached image ("pic3").  Here's a short video that was shot from the top floor of the hotel:

Details from the submitter:

From Room 211, the Acholi Ber Country Hotel, Gulu, Uganda, taken in the afternoon, on June 27th. I was there on a trip to help write a modernization plan for the Uganda Department of Meteorology.  The town is lousy with NGOs, and there are a lot of Internet cafes, so it might be easier than I think.

We followed up with the submitter to determine exactly which room on the hotel photo is Room 211, but we haven't heard back yet. When we do, we'll update the contest results with the winner. Update thus far:

This extremely exciting for me, but I'm afraid I can't help you – I'm on vacation in NH, and unlike Uganda, cellular data services are not even sufficient to let me download your photo!


Finally got the picture – the room on the right, second floor above the ground (in the European sense; third down from the top).

Three readers correctly answered that window. The tie-breaker goes to the reader whose entry included the above YouTube video, the same reader who just barely lost last week's contest. The key image from his entry: