Friday, October 16, 2009

Luweero Trip


This weekend our group traveled to Luweero Uganda (we travel a lot if you haven’t noticed).  It was a very short trip this time; it lasted only Saturday and Sunday.  The good thing about this outing was that we didn’t have to wake up at an un-godly hour to meet the bus at school.  Call time was 9:30 but I arrived a little earlier, and it was a good thing I did.  When I got to our quarters on campus I noticed Holly wasn’t there.  She told me she had to finish getting her hair done (she got an African weave) but I thought she would have already gotten to campus.  I called her and she answered in a frazzled voice that she was just passing her house on the way to campus, so I decided to go meet her.  Just as I was walking down the hill towards her house I spotted her in the distance.  For some reason she didn’t quite herself.  Not only was her hair braided African style but she seemed to have a furry animal nestled on top of her head.  As she came closer I realized it was all of her unbraided hair put into a bun.  After spending the whole day prior getting her hair braided it still wasn’t finished (you can check out her blog for her interesting hair story). 


Anyway back back to the Luweero Trip.  All seemed well until we arrived (its only two hours from Mukono).  For some reason I started feeling really awful and nauseous.  I think it was the greasy fried dough I ate for breakfast.  And it was just my luck that it hit me right before lunch (I love food so this put a damper on things).  I thought it would go away but when we went to get lunch it was unbearable.  I left the dining hall as quick as possible to get back to my room.  I honestly thought I was going to puke.  As if things couldn’t get any worse, when I got to my room.  I couldn’t find my key.  I had left it back in the dining hall!!  I had to call Holly to come give it to me.  It was the longest wait of my life (not because Holly is slow, but because I was in pain).  The good news is, is that I didn’t throw up, my body had to get rid of the waste through other means (use your imagination).  Fortunately, this sickness did not prevent me from participating in the days activities (except lunch). 

Our first stop of the day was at a Compassion project for children.  While there we got to play with all the kids and sing them songs (I looked like an idiot singing “Father Abraham”).  Partway through our antics the sky opened up and it began pouring.  We then had to huddle in this small building until we left.




Then we headed back to the guest house we were staying at to have tea and snacks and talk with a Catholic priest, Father Gerrie.  His talk was very interesting but I was very sleepy and some candles distracted me.  Anyway he talked of his ministry with the poor and it was very heart wrenching, and depressing to be honest.  He just didn’t sound very hopeful and he said he wonders sometimes if God is just.  This is understandable since he is exposed to a lot of things.  It was good to follow up this conversation with a visit to an Anglican Bishop, Bishop Kiseka.  He was very hospitable (he gave us soda and juice!) and friendly.  What was cool about our visit with him was that he was always based what he said on Jesus.  One of the things he said that it was okay for him to be made low because Jesus was raised higher.  He also encourage Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims to work together.  This is not something you typically hear in the United States. 

After Bishop Kiseka finished telling us that we were always welcome at his home, we left, ate dinner, and went to bed.  The next morning we woke up super early to attend this Catholic Church service, but it was worth it.  It was the best service I’ve been to in Africa.  The entire service was like a giant song.  What surprised me was how happy and vibrant the priest was.  Unknown to me this was the same priest we had talked to the night before (it was dark so I'm justified in my mistake).  It was such a transformation from his demeanor the day before.  He just seemed so amazingly happy to be with his congregation.  The service was extremely long but it wasn’t too noticeable.  Before we left though all the congregation wanted to take pictures with us, so we did that for a good twenty minutes (it was funny I felt like I should be signing autographs too).

When we left the church we headed to Kampala for lunch.  Lunch was awesome!!! I could write a really long description of how good it was…but I am.  After much deliberation (someone I know is allergic to grease), a group of us ate at this place called New York Pizza Kitchen conveniently located on the lower level of a parking garage.  I order two giant slices of pepperoni pizza and cinnamon roll with ice cream.  I could hardly finish what I ordered; the helpings were massive.  I went away very satisfied, so if you are ever in Kampala, Uganda you should hit up NY Pizza Kitchen.


(My friends Denisha and Joy with their delicious macaroni from NYPK)

That was a brief summary of my trip and now I’m back at school chillin and working on homework ( It’s Friday so mostly not working on homework).  I’m still not sure what I’m going to do for the rest of day but the world is my oyster so whatever.  I don’t really like oysters…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rafting the Nile


I’m sad to say but that person bungee-jumping is not me.  I wanted to live.  However, this picture will give you a taste of how amazing this past weekend was.  Ladies and Gentlemen I have conquered the perils of the Nile River!!! 

On Saturday, I woke up at 6am and packed my swim trunks and other essentials in preparation for our departure to Jinja at 7:20am.  After getting ready and eating a breakfast of bananas and tea, My roommate Phil, our friend Jill, and myself headed out.  Originally we had planned to walk the 20 minute or so walk into town where we were supposed to meet the rest of our group.  Fortunately, we caught a ride with another student, Drew, who was being dropped off by his host mom.  When we arrived at our meeting point (a hotel in Mukono) the buses were loaded up and we headed for Jinja.  Our purpose for going to Jinja as I have said before was obviously to go rafting, and as we rode in the bus we were all in eager anticipation for the upcoming adventure.  Unless of course you were Holly who was a little freaked out (don’t worry though she will redeem herself later on in this blog).

We arrived in Jinja at the Adrift Rafting starting point (which was quite nice; they had warm showers available), paid our money, and awaited further instructions.  We relaxed on couches near the bar until a burly rafting instructor called us over to hear instructions.  He basically told us what we could and couldn’t bring on the raft.  Most importantly he informed us that we would be facing about four class 5 rapids during this outing (in addition to class 1,2,3, and 4 rapids).  If that is hard to visualize here is a pic of a class 2 rapid:


Trust me that is bigger than it looks.  Anyway, when Holly was finally done changing (she takes forever to get ready bless her soul lol) we picked out our life jackets and oars.  They were to be our most trusted friends down the Nile.  We then joined what was to be our rafting team down the Nile.  This team consisted of mostly girls and two guys (one of which was myself…duh).  Our rapid guide was an African named Olo.  He was a funny guy who loved to sprinkle his conversation with expletives.  He assured us of his qualifications by saying that this was his first time on the Nile (in addition to cursing he was also a liar, but he was cool).  Together we created an unstoppable force known as Oteam, and here we are in action:

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(I’m in the very front rowing very vigorously while my buddy to my left isn’t.  The ever graceful Holly is right behind me :) )

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Here is another.

Back to the Story.  After finding our group we headed down to the water, hopped into the boat, and listened to a brief overview of the how to survive on the Nile.  First we went over basic terminology such as “Paddle forwards” “Old on!!!” and “Back on the Job!!!”  After that it was go time.  The first rapid we hit was a class 2 and it was pretty easy.  Since it was going to be calm for awhile our guide told us to get out of his boat and jump in the water.  He then showed us the proper way to float if for some reason we were to fall out (this is funny and you will hear why).  We also were taught how to flip our boat back over, how to find air pockets if we were trapped under the boat, and how to get back on.  Pretty chill right?  Well a big rapid was just around the river bend.

We had by this time gotten back in the boat and were rowing towards it.  It was a whole lot scarier than the 2 and way bigger, but we entered into the roaring foaming water despite our growing fear.  It was crazy!!! Huge waves formed, knocked into us, and then disappeared as more formed.  Just as we were about to exit the rapids a big big wave smacked into us and out of the corner of my eye I see feet going over the side.  My friend Abigail had been the only person to fall out of the boat lol.  We made fun of her big time for that, but we paid for it in the end because at the next rapid everyone was swept off except her. 

Then came our first class 5 rapid.  It was like entering into water fight between Poseidon and Ursula the Sea Witch.  It was a canyon of water and waves.  One wave hit us head on and I thought surely we would flip because the force of the wave sent the back half of the boat forward sandwiching us.  For some reason we didn’t flip and we survived!!! We had a good cheer after that.  We went through a few more rapids after that one of them being another class 5, and a few people flew out.  Nothing serious.  Then we stopped for lunch.

Lunch was amazing.  I had been craving a normal sandwich since i got here and that is finally what we got.  It was awesome!!!  I don’t think i like African food very much which is why I’m always excited for American food.  When lunch was over one of our members chickened out and decided not to finish the rest of the day, so we set out minus one member.

This next stage of the journey was much more extreme.  Our first rapid back on the river was a class 5, complete with a water fall.  We watched as each boat went through the rapids seeing some get stuck on the rocks and watching boats go over the falls.  Then it was our turn and man was adrenaline pumping through my body.  We careened down the rapids while our guide yelled “forward hard!!!” We missed the rocks that a few had snagged on we headed towards the falls.  Before we went down our guide claimed the falls were only like 4 feet, he was wrong (I told you he was a liar).  It was close to about 10ft or more.  Looking down from those falls was so scary.  Almost as scary as going over and hitting the water below.  Again we survived and didn’t flip.  One girl flew out though and was quickly got back in.  It was hilarious though.  We were so pumped from making it over the waterfall that we agreed without even thinking to the guide’s proposition that we veer away from the main group to go over a class 4 rapid.  The rest of the rafters went down the right fork of the river while we headed to the left.

Adrenaline was still pumping, leftover from the waterfall, as we approached the churning rapids.  They were massive but we headed into them with fiery zeal (I mean hey we just survived a 10ft water fall; we thought we were invincible).  We cheered with excitement as we cleared the first few waves, all seemed well.  That is until the water suddenly slopped downward.  Then it hit us.  As we slopped down a wave smashed into us and flipped the boat.  Instantly I was immersed in water with several kicking bodies around.  We were all desperately searching for one thing, air.  My first attempt to surface failed as another wave swept us along.  I was quickly losing breath and the first thought I had was “oh my gosh I’m about to drown.”  I kicked upward and barely made it to the surface to take a quick gulp of air.  In that quick moment of surfacing I realized that I was under the boat and that wasn’t a place I wanted to be, so I pushed myself out.  As I surfaced I was quickly being pulled away from the boat by a fierce current when suddenly a hand shot out and grabbed my life jacket before I was swept away.  I turned to see who had grabbed me and guess who it was, Holly!!!!!!  She saved me :) or so I like to tell her.  Yep, Holly is quite the hero.  Anyway I could see around me other members of my team coughing as the held on to the raft.  We all clamored into the boat thankful to be alive.  It was hilarious because after the initial shock of our near death experience we all started laughing and saying how awesome it was.  It was awesome.  If you ever have a near death experience and survive you will probably feel the same way (only if you survive).

After that all the rapids seemed small in comparison.  We flipped once more and me and holly were picked up by a safety raft and deposited back with our group.  However, the final rapid of the day was hilarious.  Our guide said it was a class 3 but really it was a 4 (liar), so we were expecting a pretty mild rapid.  What we saw was wall after wall of churning wave.  By this time everyone in the boat was tired and was ready to be done so we all requested to take it easy on the last one.  We all started paddling expecting to be taken around the rapid but our guide kept shouting us to paddle forward which consequently was into the heart of the waves.  All the girls burst into shouts of “Where are we going!!!” “Where are you taking us!!!” “I don’t want to paddle!!!”  What is hilarious is that they all claimed to be rowing hard but they weren’t.  I looked over and half of our people were out of sync.  I was about the only one trying to row hard and forward (the guide knows what he is doing).  If you read any of the other people’s blog they will say they were rowing vigorously, but that is a lie.  You can’t row hard while yelling your head off.  To make a long story short we didn’t enter the heart of the rapids and we didn’t flip or anything.

All in all the rafting the Nile was an amazing experience and I wish I was still on the boat.  When it was done we got free drinks and a small barbeque.  Rewards for a job well done.  The next day was pretty boring in comparison.  We just watched people bungee jump and then we left. There are more pictures of rafting but we still haven’t picked up the pictures taken by the company so you will have to stayed tuned for those.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Month

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So it has been a little over a month since I have been in Africa and this week has been the most trying academically.  I had to spend the whole entire week writing and putting off this six page paper in my East African history class.  It was the worst thing I have ever written mostly because I wasn’t familiar with any aspect of African history.  So anyway, right now I have decided to spend the rest of my day relaxing.  Also, I thought I would write a blog since I haven’t posted one in a while.  There isn’t much to tell because I have basically been at school but my mother insisted that I post pictures of the “bush.”  The bush refers to the jungles of Africa, however, where I live just so happens to be one of the most modernized areas of Uganda.  What does this mean?  It means there ain’t a whole lot of “bush.”  I will however show as much forest as I can in the following pictures.  I hope you enjoy:


I stumbled across this wild girl, she’s pretty cool when she isn’t grunting.  I’ve taught her some English words and I think I might keep her.  I think a family back home might want her :-)


This is the view from the top of the hill that campus is on.


I finally got to see some monkeys!!!! But you will have to look really hard.


More monkey.


The Palace of the Kabaka


Well mom that is all I got before I go on the safari.  Stay tuned everybody because I’m rafting down the Nile this weekend so I will have lots to say on Monday!!!