Hm, this is odd. Blogger is not being blocked. Facebook is being blocked, Picasa is being blocked, but not Blogger. Maybe it never was blocked and I just assumed it was because the network wouldn't let me access other blogs.
Anyhoo, things are going well here. After five weeks, I'm finally starting to settle in. I really didn't think I'd suffer so much culture shock here. I thought I'd been well-prepared for what Africa would be like. I never realized how attached to comfort I am. Not that I'm uncomfortable. The house I live in is very comfortable. It's hard to describe. Every time I go somewhere, I scour the landscape for "nice," Western-style houses or restaurants or hotels, and it makes me feel uncomfortable when I don't find them. It's odd, I know. But I've been feeling really homesick for both Seattle and London.
A few weekends ago, we housemates went to Jinja, home to the source of the Nile River. It was nice in Jinja, but being there made me appreciate Entebbe more. I couldn't wait to get back. We went to see the source of the Nile, then went to the agricultural festival being held that weekend. It was like an Africa version of the Puyallup Fair, but we were there at night so there were no animals in sight. It was insanely crowded and, true to Ugandan form, everything looked temporary, haphazard, and dilapidated. We climbed the steps of a particularly rickety, circular structure which turned out to be a motorcycle daredevil show. We stood on the top of a big wooden cone as a 60-year-old Indian man rode a motorcycle around the cone. I was terrified he was going to die, and due to the shakiness of the whole structure, I feared we would go down with him. It was a very terrifying and thrilling 2 minutes of my life, all for the equivalent of 25 cents!
Everyone else went whitewater rafting on the Nile, but I a) was too chicken, and b) wanted to save my money for other things, like touring a national park full of exciting African animals. Instead, I met up with a contact of my step-grandpa's. He is a Ugandan man who started an organization, called African Orphan Education Trust (AOET), building schools for kids who couldn't afford school fees, especially children affected by HIV/AIDS. They also built an orphan village which recruits families to take on 3 or 4 orphans, and in exchange, they get to live in a very nice house. They have also helped supply and train a local hospital with state-of-the-art machinery, helped by Assist International. He showed me one of their schools and an orphan village, and I was impressed with his attention to details, like making sure that the schools were wheelchair accessible and that the preschool had an extra classroom and bathroom for kids with special needs. Sadly, donor funds have been cut back significantly in the current economic environment.
Last weekend, I headed into Kampala to meet up with Aleisha, an acquaintance from home. She has been in Uganda since January and will be here for a full year, teaching science in a non-profit school. She introduced me to her two Ugandan "sisters," and we had fun shopping and visiting her school.
And now I'm down to just under two weeks here. We housemates are going to go to Murchison Falls National Park for my last weekend here. I'm really excited, but I'm nervous because we get back the day before I fly back to London. I'll have about 24 hours back in Entebbe to wrap things up.
I've been hard on myself about the last year, about not seeing as much of the UK as I had planned/wanted. But the other day I was sitting in the sun looking at photos on my iPod, and there was amazing trip after amazing trip. I've been so blessed and I've seen so much, and I've done it all with wonderful people that I adore. Amsterdam, Dublin, Hamburg, Lyon, Toulouse, Paris, Switzerland, Edinburgh, Glasgow. And London London London. So many wonderful memories. I can't wait to get back and see my friends. I miss them to pieces!