Monday, June 21, 2010

Top Ten of Uganda

10. Taxis These classy, broken, musty vans will get you anywhere in a new york, er I mean Ugandan minute. Designed to seat a mere 14 passengers, your expert conductor will often seat 20 people and 4 screaming chickens in your taxi. Impressive, right? Your personal bubble cannot exist in these wonderful vehicles. Also, beware of dirt roads and speed bumps. More often than not you will hit your head on the ceiling of the van.

9. Schweppes Novida Orange Soda. They don’t sell this in the United States and I already know I’m going to go through withdrawals. There’s also no description for it. It’s not like other orange sodas out there that have too much syrup. This delightful drink is lighter in flavor and has ten times the fizz of other sodas. An ice cold Novida is just what you need to cool off after a long day in the African sun.

8. The Nile I thought I had seen the river of all rivers when I lived in Richmond. I mean every one knows the James is the greatest river in all of the United States, and possibly the whole world. But, the Nile takes first place. It’s wide span and breathtaking waterfalls are quite possibly the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen. (Sorry Niagara). After fetching water in a bucket from the Nile and then proceeding to carry it on my head, I feel incredibly connected to this 3,000 mile long river. And, after drinking half of the Nile while white water rafting, the Nile and I have become one.

7. Sunsets The sunsets here are incredible. Maybe I just notice them a little more here because I have more time, but regardless, they are breathtaking. As often as I can I climb up our water tower to take in the unique colors of the sunset each day. From the water tower your look out and see the countless, green, rolling hills of Uganda combined with a sunset behind large, fluffy clouds that act as a pallet for the reds, oranges, and purples of an African sunset. Pictures do not do these sunsets justice.

6. Rolex
This delightful treat is heaven on earth. We’ve all had delicious, vegetable-filled omeletes before, but a rolex takes it to a whole new level. Chapatti, the staple food of my diet, is similar to a tortilla but so much better. The simple flour dough is rolled into a circle and then cooked on an oil covered skillet on a charcoal stove. Yes, it is another fried food that I’m adding to my diet, and yes, I have gained weight in Uganda. So, imagine an tasty omelet rolled up inside of a delicious chapatti and then you have a rolex! It’s also a steal at 40 cents a piece

5. My HELP Team

I could write an entire blog post about my team. Well, I have written an entire blog post about them, I just haven’t posted it yet. Stay tuned for that post so you can understand what I love about each and every one of my teammates. They make life fun and teach me so much.

4. Boda Boda
Come one, come all! To the lovely land of Uganda to enjoy a once in a lifetime ride on a motorcycle. Boda Boda was originally derived from “Border to Border”. This handy dirt bikes were used in smuggling ventures between Uganda and its neighbors. Simply riding a motorcycle will not suffice. You must bump knees with neighboring cars, carry a pregnant goat, and almost get squished by a giant Mercedes semi truck that does not see you in order to get the full effect.

3. The handshake. I wish I could demonstrate but I will try to describe it. You shake hands like normal people and then you grab hands just like when two men get together and decide they want to do the one arm grunt hug. You know, the part where their two hands are clasped together between them when they hug? Yeah that’s how you grab someone hand after the regular hand shake. But, don’t actually do the man hug. Then return to the regular hand shake. So, its shake, clasp, shake, clasp. Repeat as often as the native Ugandan wants.

2. Rainstorms There is nothing like an African rainstorm. The only thing I’ve seen that comes close to a downpour here is the monsoon season in Arizona. But, even that doesn’t compare. A Ugandan rainstorm stops everything in its tracks. Classes stop and streets become deserted. The banging of quarter sized raindrops on tin roofs is as loud as a band tuning up, but as peaceful as the sounds of the ocean. It’s always a warm rain.

It’s a rain that can only be found in the beautiful jungles of Uganda.

1. The People These people may be living in a “third world” but they certainly don’t act like it. I’ve never met a more welcoming group of individuals. Everyone I interact with always asks “How are you?” and it’s always a sincere inquiry. Everyone holds hands. Everyone is connected. The meaning of love is something the people of Uganda have discovered and embraced. Their entire culture is based around how they interact with each other. They are dependent on one another in every way.

Over and Out


Picture 1 - Angie and I at some waterfalls in Jinja (where the source of the Nile is)

Picture 2 - Crane school student

Picture 3 - Farmer who lives next door

Picture 4 - Waterfalls where Angie and I are pictured

Picture 5 - Little girl in a village called Najja