We have been in mbarara for a couple of days now. The rest of the group has been here one day longer then me and Haley(a third year nursing student). Haley and I spent the last three days traveling to the impenetrable forest and doing some gorilla tracking. It was amazing. A fantastic experience that consisted of trekking through the very dense and monotonous forest with a group of four other tourists. We were accompanied by a guide and two armed guards. The guards were there to ward off mountain elephants and gorillas that had not been habituated. We hiked for two hours before we reached the family of gorillas we had been assigned that day. In total we saw 8 of the 17 members of that family including the dominant and subordinate silverbacks. The family had been habituated to people over the past few years. Each such habituated family is only visited up to once per day. The experience was such an interesting mix of being so comfortable that I constantly wanted to sneak closer and closer to a gorilla until it would make a noise. Even a slight grunt was so loud it was incredibly frightening and would immediately
shock me into a state of realizing the size of these wild animals. After our trek we drove to lake Bunyonyi and spent the night at at tent and cabin guest house. It was a nice place that we will be returning to with the rest of the group at the end of the summer as part of our safari.
Since being in mbarara we have spent some time adjusting to are new living arrangements and trying to fill the time before our community placement. We had lost all water in the house over the weekend and remain unsure if it was a normal loss of water that happens routinely as people consume more in the city or if it is a plumbing problem. We have had a plumber stop by and some of our water has returned periodically so it may be a combination of both. We have met some of the other students at MUST. A group of seven nursing students from Michigan are living beside us. We were invited over to hangout with and get to know each other the other night. They offered us some East African beers and we brought some freshly cooked grasshoppers that were being sold by one of the street vendors earlier that day. The nursing students were all very friendly and the grasshoppers were tasty, somewhat like salty popcorn. I have also gotten to know some of the locals playing basketball with them in the evenings.
Today we visited an orphanage. We spent the morning with the kids. They were so excited to see us. We spent some of the time in the classroom with them. It was nice to see what type of work the kids were learning but it did feel we might have been a bit of a distraction from their learning.
Food power rankings (favourite foods from the trip):
1. Breakfast half cakes- fried dough that resembled unsweetened donuts but with specks of tomato past throughout
2. Ground nut sauce - a peanut sauce made with some cooked dark leafy greens. Cooked in a norther Ugandan style. Absolutely delicious on top of rice and matooke (mashed plantains).
3. Guacamole- all of the guacamole has been fantastic made from some delicious avocados
4. Baked plantain
5. Fruit!- the mangos are especially delicious.
6. Bean curry- curry sauce made with a mixture of beans that was served as part of our first meal at Ssese island
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