Agony and Ecstasy

Entering into our last week, we didn’t have much more we needed to accomplish -just tying up a few loose ends in the office. More importantly, we wanted to fit in everything we didn’t have the chance to do yet. On Monday after working on a few forms for our national office, we decided to go to Pine Ridge, an outdoor spot Madeline learned about from a co-worker at Kitovu. Gordon, a very nice but oh so talkative Kitovu worker, outlined (throughout a 45 minute conversation) to Madeline the three things you can do at Pine Ridge: drink cold drinks, enjoy some fresh air, and view the nice scenery. And that is exactly what we did! Pine Ridge is mostly used as a site for motor rallies, but it also happens to the have the most beautiful view overlooking all of Masaka – that is, if you could see past the border of pine trees. After walking around the slippery tracks that we couldn’t believe is where cars actually race and admiring all of the pine trees, we decided it was time for “Niles in the garden” with our friend Scott. Outside seating at Hotel Zebra, which is now fondly known as “the garden” is the spot where we have come to drink many Niles, play many rounds of PITCH, and just generally have a great time.

On Tuesday, Madeline and I worked on the MoU while Peter and Tyler went into Kyanamukaaka to pick up some of the surveys from the VHTs. During the day, Chris, the intern from FSD mentioned previously a few times, invited us to see his host family’s farm. Madeline and I went after work, and he gave us an awesome tour of the family’s garden and farm. Along the way, we accidently stepped in manure, and by stepped in manure, I mean our feet were swallowed by massive amounts of cow poop. And also ate the most delicious mango I’ve ever had in my life! We went back and met his host family and got a tour of the house. After being put to shame by his sister’s Memory skills (I think she had more matches than Madeline, Chris, and me combined), we decided it was time to leave. Along the way, we met up with Peter who was playing soccer in a field nearby.

On Wednesday, Peter and Tyler stayed back to work on the blog while Madeline and I went to the field to pick up the rest of the surveys. Earlier, we asked Betty for advice on where to get the best pork in town. After eating Rolexes (a Ugandan egg burrito) and snacking on grasshoppers, pork was the last Ugandan meal we had yet to try. Francis, an extremely thoughtful and awesome Kitovu driver who frequently gives me 6am wake up calls to check if I want to join him on his program for the day, knew of the perfect place for us to go! So we went to Pub of Eden with Betty and Francis and ate tons of delicious pork…4 kilograms of it.  For those of you who are not metric system savvy, that’s almost 9 pounds! They were prepared for us in three ways: fried with tomatoes and onions on the side, fried in tomatoes, peppers, and curry spices and then fried with cabbage, onions, and more curry. Amazingly delicious.  With the pork melting in your mouth, Niles for a dollar, and the great company of Betty and Francis, it was possibly the best meal we’ve had so far. After Madeline and I met up with Scott and his friend Paul, while Peter and Tyler went back to hang out in the room. Paul, along with his girlfriend, started an awesome business called Afri-pads that makes reusable pads for women and sells them to individuals and NGOs. On top of meeting so many incredible and unique Ugandans, we have also had the pleasure to get to know some of the most inspiring people doing the most amazing work from outside of Uganda as well.

 

On Thursday, we all went to the office to finish MoU with Kitovu. After Peter and Tyler ran some errands in town, while Madeline and I went back to Tekera to pick up a few more handmade baskets! At night, Charles and Steven planned a small goodbye dinner at Ten Tables, a nearby resturant. We all munched on the most delicious guacamole and chapatti chips and chatted about our time at Kitovu. Near the end, Steven brought out a present for us – polos with both Kitovu Mobile’s and GlobeMed’s symbols on it with our specific project name on the back!  Incredibly thoughtful and totally unexpected! Needless to say, we LOVED the shirts – we all wore them the next day!

 

Friday. What to say about Friday. Is it really our last day in Masaka? Hard to believe that we arrived here a month and one day ago. Bittersweet. Agony and ecstasy. Reflection posts from all of us will come later so I’ll save the sentimental shtuff for that. Of course, as per usual on days of departure, it was pouring rain. Our initial plan was to take the large box of goodies (containing everything sent by Mrs. Ferry and Mrs. Dzaugis, thank you!) on a boda-boda and riiiiiiide to work. Off we went. About half way through the drive, Francis stopped to pick us up in the Ipsum, the same car that would drive us to Kampala- details to follow! We arrived at morning prayers just as Charles had mentioned to the staff that it was the “GlobalMed” team’s last day in Masaka. Eileen said a beautiful goodbye on behalf of all of us. We stood in the reception area of Kitovu for about 20 minutes, giving emails, shaking hands, exchanging jebales (jebale means well done, used to thank someone for the work they do), and saying goodbyes. Very sad, and a bit overwhelming. After saying our final goodbye and giving Charles his birthday present (a Northeastern polo!), we left Kitovu Mobile for the last time. In the Ipsum. With 7 people. And all of our luggage. It was going to be a long 2-hour drive to Kampala. And it was. I didn’t stay in one position for more than 15 minutes: sitting at the floor at the guys’ feet, on Chris’ lap, standing with my ass practically on John, a counselor for Kitovu, in the front seat. If we hadn’t bonded enough during the whole trip, we certainly did on this drive. After a lot of shuffling and shuttling around Kampala, we departed for Jinja! Yahoo! Eileen was lucky and kind enough to share her row of the matatu* with a man projectile vomiting so that it creeped across the floor until it hid a roadblock: my shoes and long skirt. Fantastic ride. Arrived at the Nile River Explorers Camp for a night of “Niles by the Nile”, instead of “Niles in the Garden.” As the boys discussed whitewater rafting on the Nile for the entirety of our time in Uganda, Eileen and I initially planned to horseback ride along the Nile, a biiiit to nervous to take the plunge (pun intended) and risk our lives in “grade 5, never-in-the-raft, crocodiles 5 feet in front of you” water, as it was described to us by Chris. Welp. That all changed once we got to the Camp and realized that we would regret it for the rest of our lives if we pass up the opportunity to whitewater raft on the Nile. The worst that could happen? We die. At least we’d be able to say we died whitewater rafting on the Nile. Instead of something boring, like old age or cancer. (sorry  – that was a bit morbid). So, I’m sorry to say, Mom. But I risked my life and whitewater rafted. On the Nile. (She’s not reading it for the first time here, not to worry other Moms.) The rest of Friday night we spent eating delicious food [falafel for me, cheese and tomato panini for Eileen, the most unbelievable B.L.A.T. for Peter, and Tyler I forget what you had – sorry! And chips (french fries) all around, naturally.] Peter, Tyler, and Chris played cards with some Dutch/German/Danish? girls while Eileen and I sat at the tables outside the bar and absorbed the sights and reflected on the emotions of our last weekend in Uganda.  Long day ahead of us. Did we sleep? Not a wink.

 

Saturday morning came too soon. We suited up, packed our things, and headed over to the other camp to meet up with the other rafters, gather helmets and lifejackets, and eat a delicious breakfast of fruit and Rolexes. When we finally arrived at the river, our hearts were pounding out of our chests. It was the most nervous I was all day. We were separated into rafts and, not to be sexist towards my own gender, but Eileen and I were placed in a raft with only 3 other females. Yikes. All in all, we had an amazing, exhilarating, one-in-a-lifetime experience. From flipping out of the raft to doing flips off the raft to eating the most delicious pineapple, it was an unforgettable day. We took the bus immediately back to Kampala where we met Robert, drove to his uncle’s in traffic like I have never experienced, and settled in for our last night in Uganda – weird.

 

Sunday. What to say about Sunday. We spent the majority of Sunday the way we spent the majority of our trip – watching approximately 3 hours of a performing arts competition at a school where Robert teaches singing and dancing. All in luganda, all 3 hours. We spent a leisurely morning chatting with Robert’s uncle and his family, learning to make chapatti, and eating the most delicious food that the mother prepared for us. From there, we made a pit stop at the craft market to spend our leftover shillings, and then went to the performances to meet up with Robert. The performances were long, Tyler was nauseous, and it was unbearably hot, but luckily, I had the most adorable 2 year old girl, Rina, plant herself on my lap for the entirety of the show (except when she got off to pop a squat 6 inches away from me) which kept me thoroughly entertained. From the school, we departed for Entebbe! On the way, we stopped at Imperial Beach Resort for last minute tilapia! We munched on 3 whole tilapia, enjoying the last few hours of our trip. Despite the crazy bugs swarming us and fish heads staring up at us, it was a great farewell to Uganda. Anxious to start our journey home, we departed Uganda at 11:30PM! All that’s left to do is sleep.

 

That’s all folks. A trip to Uganda complete. Many new friends, full bellies of matooke, dirt on our feet that won’t come off for months, and stories that will last us a lifetime. We’ll post individual reflections in a week, so check back if you’re interested! Thanks for following and supporting us this past month. Welaba! Bye!

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