Saturday, May 05, 2007


So I’m here in Uganda! We arrived Wednesday night. Monday night we left from SLC and then arrived in Newark, New Jersey Tuesday morning. We took a bus and train to the World Trade Center. I’ve been there before and man that place is big. I can’t even imagine huge buildings being there and the destruction them falling could cause. We saw a lot of lower Manhattan: Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Little China, and Little Italy. We were only there for about 5 hours but we were able to do a lot. So then we left for Amsterdam and arrived there at 6:00 AM. I love flying into Holland, it is a very distinct country. It’s cool seeing the cities from the plane and the peninsula and the Afsluitdyk. The sunrise was amazing too. We walked around the city for 3 hours, saw the Anne Frank house, and all the flags and trash from the Queen’s Day celebration from the day before. Everything was closed still, but I was still able to get April and Tamara to try vla and doner kebabs. Being there for a couple hours got me really excited to go back in 6 weeks.

So we left for Africa. KLM is a really good airline, they brought us so many meals and snacks. It was really fun to see on the map where we were. We flew right over Egypt and Sudan. I just couldn’t believe that I was actually going to Africa! I had an aisle seat but I saw an amazing sunset outside with awesome clouds that looked really African-like. As we were flying into Uganda, I finally understood why Africa is called the Dark Continent. It was so dark outside. Down below there were hardly any lights, the airport wasn’t lit up at all either. It was sure interesting when we touched down cause you could hardly see the road. We were picked up at the Entebbe Airport and driven through Kampala, the capital, to a small town, Mukono. David, our driver, has never been swimming. We were all very tired from going through so many time zones and lots of walking in NYC and A’dam. I could not sleep at all, though. The main road is outside our hotel and there were so many large trucks, lots of horns honking, and it sounded like there was civil unrest outside or something cause people were yelling the whole night. It turns out there was a soccer game going on. I didn’t get much sleep at all.

So Thursday was our first day here. We went around looking for houses and meeting people that can help us with our projects. Uganda is what I thought Africa would be like: Dirt roads, jungle, palm trees, banana trees, small shacks, and everyone is black. It seems like everyone in the community knows one another. There aren’t any street lights and even though Mukono is small, there are tons of people everywhere. A lot of the people come from small villages outside the town. Mukono is really hilly and beautiful. It reminds me a lot of Brazil. It’s pretty close to Lake Victoria and the beginning of the Nile. Everyone speaks a tribal language called Luganda. It’s interesting, Uganda has many regions, which are tribes and then within each tribe there are clans. Each clan has a flag and such. President Museveni is from another tribe and all the government workers are from his tribe, that’s how African politics work.

We ran into USAID yesterday, they were doing a “saving money” workshop in the center of the town. We made a lot of contacts. USAID said we can help out with different things around the country. There was this kid who stared at me for like 5 minutes and then came over and started rubbing my skin. I think he was trying to see if the white would rub off. Everywhere we go little kids run up to us and call us “Mzungu,” which means whitey. We talk to them and call them “Mudugavu,” which means blackey. We walk everywhere and occasionally we take boda-boda’s which are taxi motorcycles. For the most part they are safe. Our friend, Freddy, has taken us around to our project contacts. We’re lining up projects, working with some schools, health clinics, orphanages, and micro-credit organizations. I have a contact in the Uganda Parliament who is trying to make it work so I can go to some committee meetings in Parliament in Kampala. Last night the guy next door had a prostitute come over…that was kind of weird. This trip will be somewhat like my Europe last year- cleaning my clothes while taking a shower and living out of my backpack.

The oranges are green, not orange. The electricity goes out at random times. The exchange rate is pretty nice: $1 equals 1,720 Uganda shillings. The price of food, though, isn’t that much different than Walmart, which is really unfortunate for the people that live here. It’s a very poor community. Though things like micro-credit and better education help out, it’s still hard for some people. In my classes I’ve learned things like ¾ of the world’s population live on less than $2 a day. Yesterday I was chatting with Henry, who makes about that per day and has 4 kids. I don’t know how he does it. I spent $3 on drinks alone. It’s really warm here. It’s the rainy season for them, so it’s pretty humid. I’ve put sun block on, but I’m still getting sunburnt a lot. It’s fun though. I feel like a missionary again. It’s fun meeting people, getting their cell phone numbers, making appointments, getting dogged, and trying to help people. We’ve run into several members of the church. Sunday should be fun. I got chewed out by the hotel people for leaving my balcony light on. Electricity is very precious here.

There are tons of gas stations all over. I’m not really sure why cause it’s expensive to own a car or a boda-boda. We saw the head of a cow just lieing on the ground. It was weird. It was really fresh too. Guys hold hands together and girls hold hands, but guys and girls don’t hold each other’s hand. I saw two mzungus (whitey) today. One’s from Germany and the other is from some country in Africa that I’ve never heard of. They drive on the left side of the road here, like the U.K. A kid told me yesterday that all whites look alike. I thought that was funny.

Today we went drove a ways through lots of little villages to a graduation ceremony. We showed up unexpected with a family friend and became the distinguished guests. Everyone stared and stared at us. We kind of feel like we’re supposed to entertain them. The father, who had multiple wives, and one of his wives, died a year ago, leaving behind close to 30 kids. The oldest is 20 and just graduated. I wish I could write more about what I feel and stuff. Email me with questions if you want to hear more.

It’ll be a fun two months.

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