Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Week in Review

Queen Elizabeth National Park... Last weekend, I galavanted off to Queen Elizabeth National Park with a few of my E! friends and a lot of people I didn't actually know. Because we were a fairly large group, it ended up that some of us got to ride in a car (including me) and the rest were in a small bus (which the car was following). The total distance from Kampala to Queen Elizabeth was probably... similar to the distance between Burlington, VT and NYC, or maybe not even that far. However, thanks to roads, which were alternately littered with potholes and then covered with speedbumps (literally every 20 kilometres when the roads were well paved), it took us about 10 hours to get there! The car could have gone faster had it not been following the bus (and it absolutely did on the way back when it only took us 5 hours), but alas, we were traveling as a group. Anyways, it was an interesting collection of people: 3 American E! staff (one of whom holds French and British citizenship too), 2 Scottish girls, 5 British volunteers, 2 British Oxford students, 1 Belgian University student, 1 Belgian diplomat, and 1 Ugandan fellow who arranged the whole trip. Anyways, to make a long story short, I saw lots of elephants, hippos, water buffalo, warthogs, and pretty landscapes!

Surprises and Celebrations... This past week, back in Kampala, I enjoyed good food, visited with students, tried to focus on my various projects and met a few interesting people. I had a great time on Tuesday visiting the orphanage that E! works with. I went with one of the mentors and three people from the US Embassy who are considering giving us a grant, and because the orphanage knew all these people were coming, they arranged this huge performance! I think I've explained it on here before, but the idea behind this orphanage is to empower former street kids and orphans through music and performance. Unfortunately, I had no idea this was happening and didn't have a camera.. Oh well. It was very entertaining, but I was also moderately terrified when these 7 and 8 year old boys started making these human towers on the concrete stage. One boy would brace himself as about four other boys would stand on his shoulders and make crazy pyramids and towers. It was even more frightening when the 14 and 15 year old boys started doing the same thing, because of course the towers were twice as tall! Thankfully, no injuries or mistakes resulted. It was just like Circus Smirkus! Later in the week, I visited with students at another school who were celebrating their graduation from the E! program. They had even gone so far as to raise money for graduation gowns!

Good Food and New Friends... When I wasn't working on projects at the office (I've somehow been put in charge of fixing computer problems.. gulp), I was out getting drinks and good food and meeting new people! I went out to our local bar on Tuesday, which is actually called Local Bar, I think, and had a relaxing evening talking about work and other things. We went back there the next night with a friend of a friend who is in town, but generally works in Kenya selling solar panels. That was pretty interesting. The best part of the night by far, however, was getting pork and plantains from a little stand across the street (it took about 2 hours to prepare, but it was worth the wait). It reminded me of Ghana a bit and the days of eating with your hands and wondering if your body would hate you the next day for your choice of food (it worked out fine though!). The following night, we met up with another interesting guy who sells solar panels in Kampala, and the food at the restaurant was deeeelicious (I got fish, which came with veggies, salad, soup, grilled pineapple, garlic bread and mashed potatoes.... plus a dessert, all for $7!).

Making the Most of it All... Anyways, now it is the weekend and I'm doing probably the exact same thing I would be doing if I was back in my parents' house at home... Wasting time on my computer. And I have to say, the only thing worse than wasting a lot of time watching youtube videos, is trying to waste time watching youtube videos when they take about 30 minutes to load... So beyond this one music video I'm desperately trying to watch (no, not Beyonce), I will probably give up. I've already spent too much time trying to download pictures of Chelsea Clinton's wedding dress (just lovely!). So maybe it's time to go be productive! (No guarantees though... Then again, I could just continue being lazy and make up great stories about all the things I've accomplished and just tell you all that I forgot my camera! You'd never know.... ha. ha. ha!) Ok, the end!

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