Ssese Islands, supermarkets, and...a strike?

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May 23rd 2019
Published: May 24th 2019
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First run of the tripFirst run of the tripFirst run of the trip

We are not sure if we conquered the hill, or the hill conquered us...all we know is that we had fun in spite of the pain!
Hello again, Ki kati!

Time seems to pass slowly as we meander through the days in Uganda. And yet, looking back on these past couple of weeks, it amazes me how the days have blurred and flown past faster than a reckless boda boda driver (motorcycle taxis that we are strongly discouraged to take rides from). So here we are now, third post of the trip, and already approaching the end of May!

We spent the weekend on the Ssese Islands, where we did typical "island/resort" things like sunbathe, swim, and eat delicious food. Since it is the end of the rainy season we had to wait out quite a bit of rain, but we were still able to soak up some rays (and vitamin D!) during our time there. We even went for a run, which ended up with us blaming the elevation, heat, and presence of hills for being so slow and out of breath--it definitely COULDN'T have been the fact that we'd been blobs for the entire past week...*coughcough*

The process of getting to the islands ended up being our first test of patience and experience of "Ugandan time". If you want the specifics, we
We've crossed the line...We've crossed the line...We've crossed the line...

Literally, this time! Past the equator, and off to Mbarara.
were meant to leave Entebbe via ferry at 2pm and ended up leaving at 5:30pm because the fuel for the ship didn't arrive in time. Although at first some of us felt a bit frustrated and antsy by the delay, that afternoon ended up being a majorly awesome memory as we shared some delicious mangoes, fiddled with the ukulele by the lake, and lazed around in the sunshine together. As a group of travelers and health science students with a tendency to want to always "do" something, it was refreshing to take time to just "be"--and I am certain we will have lots more time to grow in the practice of "being" as we get accustomed to Ugandan time and the different pace of life here!

Our island adventures were followed by another couple days back in Entebbe, which felt like going back home. Victoria and I were able to squeeze in a gym session, some of the others lounged around at a pool, and Haley and Rayden (the true adventurers) went gorilla trekking in the Impenetrable Forest 9 hours away.

In terms of group dynamics, probably the extent of our arguing so far would be how many
Time for takeout!Time for takeout!Time for takeout!

Yes, the majority of us in this picture are nutrition students. No, we don't always cook and/or eat healthy.
"S"s are in "Ssese", which is spelled in various forms by the Ugandans but seems to be spelled "Ssese" on Google. (For the purpose of this blog, we'll go with Google's version...) But in all seriousness, our group has been working together really well! Even before we get down to the nitty-gritty hospital and community work, we can already see ourselves differentiating into distinct roles on the team:

• Victoria -- the fitness instructor
• Anne-Sophie -- the history/fun fact extraordinaire
• Rayden -- the animal aficionado "dad"
• Brooke -- the comic relief
• Casey -- the one you want in case of emergency
• Haley -- the one who packed EVERYTHING you could possibly need to never get bored
• Angela -- the one who will reliably eat any food you can't finish

What's not to love about this dream team? As I finish writing this entry, we are currently in Mbarara, a 5-hour van ride west from Entebbe. In spite of flooding our washroom within the first two hours of our stay and being completely incompetent at starting our gas stove, we've mostly kept ourselves out of trouble. Rayden and Haley have graduated from gorillas and joined us again,
Snack attack: kit kat editionSnack attack: kit kat editionSnack attack: kit kat edition

These funky flavours are definitely on my top ten list of things I would like to take back to Canada with me!
with many exciting stories to share with the rest of us. We are waiting for our leadership training to begin, which has now been pushed another week later to begin on June 3rd due to the professors at the University taking some industrial action (a.k.a going on strike). Although I've been feeling a little restless and eager to start with the "real work", I continue to cherish the memorable moments we've been creating together in the meantime, such as evening rounds of medical-themed charades and other related shenanigans.

We've discovered supermarkets full of tempting baked goods with fun names (like, who wouldn't eat a "star cake"?), snacks with questionable health claims, and funky flavours of kit kat. I finally tried my first rolex today, which is a popular local specialty involving an omelette with vegetables rolled in a chapati (a delicious unleavened flatbread). We took an impromptu tour around the campus and city, and even met the pastor at the nearby University Baptist Church. I am definitely look forward to getting plugged in to their little local faith community, and getting to know my brothers and sisters in Christ and experience the way they worship here in Mbarara! We
Better than Tim'sBetter than Tim'sBetter than Tim's

RRRoll up the rolex! Forget the watch, the food version is better.
even ran into some other mzungus (foreigners) from Michigan who are also health science students partnering with the MUST (Mbarara University of Science and Technology) program and staying in a compound near us. Here's to hoping we don't scare the Americans away when we hang out tomorrow--so stay tuned for that, and much much more. 😉 And of course, stay awesome.

Lots of love,



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