Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Heading to the West Nile Region.....

Thanks to all that have been keeping up with my blog; too bad that I haven’t been J!!! !  I didn’t realize how difficult maintaining a blog would be.  When we were in the field, it was difficult to get a reliable internet connection.  When I had one, I couldn’t add the photos that I wanted to.  So I decided to change up the strategy, focus on what I was doing and complete my blog when I had more time.

I am now in England and expect to be able to write a little bit every day.  When I get home, I will take more time to blog about some of my more interesting experiences in greater detail.

Tuesday, January 22nd (continued)

We left Kampala on Tuesday afternoon.  Because Kampala is extremely overcrowded, a daily traffic jam occurs, snarling traffic for up to three or four hours.  Francis, our driver, tried to avoid the traffic by avoiding the main routes – as a result, we got to travel on some crazy side streets and through some pretty rough parts of town.  For me, it was sensory overload.  My eyes tried to drink it all in but there was simply too much to see.  As I indicated before, the pictures will be helpful to support my attempts to describe the sight.  There where were just so many people, shops and livestock mixed with some very modest homes.  I’ve looked through my pictures but can’t find one that can give you the perspective on this; all I can say it is was simply overwhelming.

Gabriel, our UCA field rep, was giving a lot of feedback to Francis; they would switch between English and their first language so I am not sure what they were talking about but it seemed that Gabriel was second guessing our driver’s strategy.  I piped up and told Francis that I was enjoying the scenic route.

We headed north to a town called Nebbi.  I had heard that the trip could take as long as eight hours and was surprised to learn that it was only 350km away.  It took us at least that; by the time we arrived, Gabriel had completed his grocery shopping for the week.  Each region seemed to have their own specialty and the price must have been much lower in these smaller villages.  Gabriel loaded up on jackfruit, chickens and other supplies along the way.  These stops really chewed into our attempt to ‘make good time’.  Somehow I think that this isn’t a predominant strategy when driving.  The roads definitely didn’t cooperate – there were huge potholes, delays due to road construction and big speedbumps in the middle of nowhere.  I asked about the speedbumps but no one could really explain it.

Along the way, we saw many grassland wildfires – it is currently the dry season in Uganda and wildfires are a common sight; some seemed to be threatening some of the smaller villages.  We were told that some of these may have been deliberately set to flush out wildlife, others were started by natural causes – some were very close to the road.  What struck me was the lack of coordinated effort to suppress these fires.  They were simply left to burn out.  We drove by one that was very near the road; I rolled down the window to take a video and the heat was really intense.

 By the time we got to the Leosim Hotel in Nebbi, it was after dark.  After checking into our rooms, we headed to the garden patio area for some dinner and a beer.  The garden was divided into sections by hedges – each section was hosted by a different waitress.  On the exterior of the building, there was a flatscreen television.  At the moment, the African Cup of Nations being played and was being broadcast.  There were many Ugandans in the garden watching the ‘beautiful game’.  Unfortunately, Uganda didn’t qualify for the tournament this year so most of the audience was just watching with a casual interest.
CCA runs an intern program in Uganda; two of these interns ended up in Nebbi at the same time as us – for the first couple of nights anyways.  One of the interns, John, had been there for almost 6 months while the other had been there for about two.  We chatted generally about Uganda – it was interesting to get their perspective on life in Uganda and the challenges that Ugandans face.

After the soccer game was over, the programming switched to “Beautiful but Unlucky”.  I am not sure where this soap opera originates but it is dubbed into English – I think a more apt name would be “Terribly Cheesy and Hilarious”.  If you want a laugh, here is a link to an episode on YouTube:


All in all, it was a long friggin’ drive.  The Ugandan landscape was absolutely beautiful and I was excited to meet the SACCO the next day.

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