Crossing the Equator
Entebbe (Northern hemisphere) -----> Mbarara (Southern hemisphere). From left to right: Angela, Brooke, Victoria, me, Casey.
Greetings from Mbarara! What’s new? After six days in this new city, we managed to flood our bathroom, subsequently run out of water, and get invited to a Ugandan wedding! But first things first: Mbarara is a busy and bustling city. My first impression: wow, there are so many boda bodas! These Ugandan taxis on motorcycles are as numerous as cars and are way more reckless on the road (which is saying something since vehicle drivers are notoriously reckless). They also can carry up to three passengers behind the driver or transport large bunches of bananas, parcels, or even goats on occasion.
Mbarara has held nothing but surprises so far. While some things may seem similar, in reality, almost everything is different. For example, the toilets in our house: we didn’t know that the toilet handle had to be left pointing straight up or else the tank would keep filling… hence the flooded bathroom. Continuing with the theme of water, our running water randomly stopped working last Saturday afternoon. While we had been warned by previous QES students that the water sometimes went out, we expected this to happen more often in the villages rather than in the city, and
Enjoying a lazy afternoon at the pool
(From left to right) Haley, Brooke, Casey, and me: we had a free afternoon so we spent it lying in the hot equatorial sun. (We had no running water at the time, so that might have played into our decision of going swimming.)
nearer the end of the summer, during dry season, rather than now. We had two days of no showers and running down the street to Café Ark to use their bathroom before the plumber could come. While it was by no means the end of the world, let me assure you that having no working toilets is more of a problem than one might think, especially if one has diarrhea from eating lettuce (I should have listened to the travel nurse’s advice!). As a final touch to this hilariously annoying situation, our gas stove also wouldn’t light because the propane tank had been left on and was now empty. Seven spoiled Canadian students had to resort to eating mangos and peanut butter on bread (not toast because our toaster also doesn’t work) for supper that night.
Despite the bumps in the road, our group is awesome, and we’ve had many great moments together. Marius, a kind Mbarara University student, took us shopping to the Central Market and gifted us with freshly fried grasshoppers- a Ugandan delicacy that happens to be in season currently. Everybody tried them, including Brooke who shrieked before, during, and after the experience. Another source of
Shrimp or Grasshopper?
Grasshoppers are quite tasty! They are basically chips but higher in protein and fiber...
amusement is the constant attention we attract when we walk down the street. Most people blatantly stare, bodas honk at us, and men yell “Mzungu!” and whistle. At one point, a man seemed to be counting us as we walked out of the market: “Mzungu, mzungu…”. When he saw Angela, he was obviously confused since his tone changed as he said “Chinese?” It was the funniest moment of the day.
Another cool experience was going to church last Sunday. As Brooke, Angela, and I walked up to the University Baptist Church's gate, the song the congregation was singing was already as loud as if we were in a pew. African churches are famous for their liveliness so we knew we were in for a treat. We were welcomed with open arms and almost immediately, we felt at ease. The feeling of somehow being back at home was intensified by the fact that the worship team played two songs that are often played at my home church in Prince Albert. The service was beautiful- it was so encouraging to see people wholeheartedly singing praises to God and sharing stories of his goodness in their lives. Afterwards, the pastor met with us in his office to ask about what we are doing in Uganda, and we discovered a funny coincidence: our contact from Canada (named Brooklyn), who would tour us around the MUST hospital this week, is friends with many people from this church. She will actually be a bridesmaid in the wedding of a lady, named Lydia, from the church. When Lydia found out our connection to Brooklyn, she immediately invited us to her wedding this Saturday!
For the last couple of days, we have had the opportunity to visit the Divine Mercy orphanage. Being the largest of two orphanages in Mbarara, it houses 130 children whose parents are unable to care for them. Despite their difficult situation, these kids are so happy! They were so excited to see visitors and rushed to hold our hands. We were able to visit a classroom where three to five year olds sang songs for us, and we also played with the babies. For some reason, it felt like a sensory overload (probably because the children are so energetic) so we were all exhausted by the end of the morning, but it was wonderful at the same time.
Well, that’s it for this post. Tune in next week for new adventures!
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