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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Tipping Point

So one lesson I have learned here in Africa, you can never be free of Mr. Peebutt. He will always be around, lurking, waiting for the opportune moment to make a visit. You may think you’re safe, drinking your boiled water, brushing your teeth with bottled water, but he will always be there, waiting. Hopefully you don’t get a visit in the middle of a 3 hour coasta bus ride to Masaka or an 8 hour bus ride out to the west or the north. Of course, those are the time when he wants to come out and play the most. Soon, you’ll realize that during these times, food and water are simply not an option. Dehydration and starvation will be your best friends during these rides. Just so you know.

The rainy season has been somewhat slow in Wakiso for a few days, however today it seemed as if the heavens have opened up. It’s as though there has been a buildup of rain for the past few days and it just hit its tipping point. It’s been raining for a good 15 minutes now and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up anytime soon. I wish I had “making an ark” on my skillset. Hopefully one of these engineers can figure something out; we might need an ark to make our way back to our homestays. The rain reminds me of the hurricane season storms in Florida and Georgia. Those were some fun times, late nights sitting in the dark listening to the rain hit the windows and sticking by the radio to hear any updates. I miss sitting on the back patio of my house in Florida, watching it rain for hours at a time. Those were some good afternoons, spent with a cup of hot chocolate or tea and a good book. I also realize how much I miss the smell of rain. It’s always cool to feel the temperature change and just smell the moisture in the air. The thing that stinks about rainstorms here is that the power goes out every time, almost guaranteed.

Tech immersion visit began September 23rd. Let’s just say it started with Dennis running after a bus and ended with Dennis not getting a room where he was supposed to stay. I guess I should start from the beginning though.

We met at the yellow bar in Wakiso town (of course, because a bar is the only landmark we know) at 6:30 am. We had one of the PC drivers, Emmanuel, drive us to Kampala, where we were to catch a bus to Lira and then continue via mutate to Icheme to meet some other PCVs whom we’d be staying with. Once we got to Kampala, we made our way to the bus park (think of rats finding their way through a maze) and followed our fearless leader Dennis to the correct bus. He said the bus would fill up within 45 minutes, but generally speaking the buses in Uganda won’t leave unless they are full. So, assuming this rule applies to all buses in Uganda, a few volunteers decided to get off the bus (the bus was approximately ¾ empty at this point). So, within 20 minutes of the volunteers jumping ship, the bus starts moving. Now, initially we were told this may happen, a premature moving of locations if you will. Wrong. Apparently this bus was one of those that left at 9:00 am whether it was full or not. Thanks for that memo. Lucky for us, we noticed and called the folks who were missing. Dennis got off the bus so the volunteers could find the bus. Apparently they still missed him, or he missed them, because they all got on the bus without him and the bus started to leave, with Dennis chasing behind. Throughout this whole ordeal, mind you, I’m sitting in my seat, mildly paying attention, more focused on trying to sew up a hole in my skirt. That was the beginning of the day.

The bus ride was fairly boring. I slept through some of it, listened to music, saw a beautiful portion of the Nile, missed the baboons (thanks Alia) and got off at the wrong stop. One of the PCVs in the area had told us to call when we were passing through Lira, a town before the one where the PCV was actually at. Apparently this turned into us getting off in Lira and wondering where this PCV was. Oooops! You have to love the Three’s Company scenario we found ourselves in. It all worked out in the end though (obviously since I’m now writing this). We got a private hire to the town and met the PCV. Success! We had lunch and caught a mutatu to Icheme. Experience of a lifetime.

Picture this, a seat which would normally hold two plus an extra fold down seat crammed with 4 people. Yeah. I’m squished between Alia and the window of the mutate, holding onto the metal bar which is going across the window for comfort, though at some point it felt like I was holding the mutate together. The portion of the vehicle I was leaning against honestly felt like it could and would fall off at any moment. Awesome. Then we got pulled over by a cop (who coincidently pulled us over prior in the private hire, also for being over packed). New BFF! We got out of that relatively smoothly only to be attacked by the devil chicken under Stephanie’s seat (thank Shiva I was not over on her side). Then we had to stop due to a mud pit (a.k.a. construction site) which we had to cross over by foot and meet the taxi on the other side. Back to my squished position and we finally make it to Icheme and meet the PCVs, who are AMAZING! I met my mentor, Jackie, who is great. I will definitely use her services more often now (or actually start to. I felt odd calling and talking to someone I had never met about my feelings, but now that we’ve met, I’m completely ok with it). After a glorious dinner (the details of which I won’t bore you with) we said goodnight to Dennis (who eventually returned because he couldn’t get a room) and got ready for bed. As we were getting ready, I sat on my bed and apparently ripped my bed net out from the ceiling. After tracking down a hammer, from Mary who had dropped Alia off after Dennis came back and was now back in her house, Jackie fixed my net and finally I am ready for bed.

At the end of the day score: Uganda – 3 , Aditi – 0


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