Our first meal
Clockwise starting from the 12 o'clock position: steamed potato, ground nut sauce on rice, okra, goat meat, and matooke.
It has been one week since we left Canada, and we are living the tourist life. We started with a couple of days of hanging out in Entebbe and seeing sights like the Botanical Gardens, which houses a variety of fruit trees from all over the world. I was hoping to see a baobab tree from Madagascar, but it turns out that it is much too humid here for these trees to grow. However, the gardens are home to another kind of resident; monkeys escaped from the Entebbe Zoo! Now, they wander the gardens looking for food, and mzugus (foreigners) like us admire them from afar.
For our first meal in Africa, we convinced our guide to take us to an authentic Ugandan restaurant rather than a café that would serve us overpriced pizza. Pictured below is matooke (dense mashed bananas that are more bitter than sweet), goat meat, okra, ground nut sauce with herbs (aka peanut butter) on rice, and a steamed potato. My favourite was the g-nut sauce because I’m a big peanut butter fan. Most of us couldn’t stomach the okra’s slimy texture, so we will probably avoid it in the future.
The next day, we
The 120 year old tortoise
It might not actually be 120 despite what our guide told us, because leopard tortoises only live until 100 according to Google. Either way, it was heavy and was repeatedly kicking me while this picture was taken.
visited a reptile sanctuary where endangered and injured snakes/tortoises/etc are rehabilitated to be released in the wild. I don’t call myself a reptile person unlike my roommate back in Canada who thinks a snake would make the best pet, but this visit was one of the highlights of my time in Entebbe. We saw a 120 year old tortoise, found chameleons disguising themselves among the foliage, and held a non-venimous snake. Our guide entertained us with his stories of getting bit by a viper, and he even jumped into the crocodile pit to make them snap at him for our amusement. It turns out that some of the facts he told us (that leopard tortoises live for 300 years) weren’t exactly true (it’s actually giant tortoises that live that long), but hey, ignorance is bliss, right?
As we looked up to the stars that night around a campfire, we noticed something funny; the Big Dipper was upside down! A quick Google search told us that in the Southern hemisphere, Northern constellations appear upside down (and vice-versa). While Entebbe is actually north of the equator (by about 20km), we figured we were close enough for this phenomenon to be seen.
Can you spot the little man?
Chameleons were the best part of the tour!
The next stop on our list was the Ssesse islands. We took a barge to cross Lake Victoria (coincidentally on Victoria day) to its western side and spent three days lounging in the sun. The islands are the definition of a tropical paradise complete with impressive thunderstorms every morning. We’re told that we are at the end of the rainy season, and it is indeed rainy. No wonder everything is lush and green in this region (and the red dirt roads are often muddy).
In my last blog post, I mentioned that we had come to Uganda not as tourists but as students. Our goal is to learn as much as we can and hopefully use our skills for the good of the people we encounter. What I’m coming to appreciate is how sightseeing, taking things slow and relaxing are still an important step to adapt to a new environment. Ultimately, making sure we’re well-rested and ready for Mbarara will benefit us since our learning curve won’t be so steep once we start working.
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