Saturday, August 13, 2011

2 years down and still going strong...

Hi Everyone!

Hope this finds you well! Ryan and I just got back from a wonderful vacation to celebrate our 2nd anniversary (Aug 15)! We had a great time seeing more of Uganda and relaxing with each other! I thought I'd write a little about it and also share a link of pictures from our trip.

All in all our trip went off pretty much without a hitch, but we did have some good adventures to share! We decided to travel further into Southwest Uganda to visit Kabale and nearby Lake Bunyonyi. On our way to Mbarara to catch the Kabale bus our taxi driver had a flat tire. That's never happened to us but we were amazed at how quickly he put on a new tire and went on our way. Even with the flat it was probably the most comfortable and efficient taxi ride we've ever had in Uganda! Then, we waited a good two hours for the bus to arrive in the Mbarara bus park. The conductors were making everyone buy their tickets in advance. (This is a little scary because you really have no reason to believe that they bus will actually arrive!) But it did show up, we got seats, and left without much more delay.

We spent our first night at a hostel in Kabale. It's a really neat place that has a hostel (maybe 7 rooms in all!), open air "nest" restaurant, and cultural museum. There's also lots of western travelers, students, and ngo workers, so we had some great conversations with some other "mzungus" while we hung out. We actually planned to spend the night at another nearby guesthouse, but the room we had reserved looked out onto a courtyard where there would be loud, Ugandan music played all night (thank goodness they let us know in advance). Our only other option was to squeeze into a *tiny* single room at the nearby hostel. We weighed our options and decided to squish for the night.

So, the hostel was really nice but this room was seriously tiny! It was in the shape of a triangle and was so small that the single bed wouldn't even fit normally and had to be squished sideways against a window. To make matters even more exciting, Ryan was chatting with his family while the power was out at the hostel and noticed that there was a mouse also sharing our tiny room! He tried to search for it in the dark, while holding a cell phone, flashlight, and weapon (plastic water bottle). When I came down later he was pretty sure it was gone. So I was sitting on the bed while we were talking and Ryan suddenly says, very calmly, " should get off the bed. Seriously, get off the bed!" Turns out the mouse had popped up onto the bed with me and was about to run across my lap! So we had an adventure trying to get the mouse out of our room! In the morning we got to eat doughnuts at a real bakery (first bakery we've seen in Uganda!) and found a taxi that could take us to the lake.

I discovered our lake accommodations from some other PCVs who spent new years there last year. So, I blindly booked three nights on the island (only about $12 a night!) without having a very good idea what to expect! It turned out to be absolutely wonderful! There is a man who owns the island and has developed it for visitors, but chooses not to advertise. So, we were the only guests on the island! We had the company of 2 Ugandan workers who didn't speak a word of English, and 3 large Ankole cattle! Pretty exclusive, eh?

Incidentally, when they were showing us around the island and we got to the swimming dock we discovered a little problem. One of the cows had wandered on to the dock and, because these cows are HUGE, had broken the dock and fallen in. The Ugandan workers tried to grab it by the horns and force it to get out of the water but had no luck. Eventually, one of the guys climbs into the lake with the cow and starts pushing it from behind (no small task!). So, with the one guy pulling the horns and the other literally shoving the cow onto the bank of the island, they managed to get the cow out of the water and back on solid ground!

Anyhow, they set us up with charcoal and sigeeris, and we got to do all our own cooking. We'd splurged on a block of gouda in Mbarara (cheese is hard to come by!) and planned out lots of cheesy meals! We had a great log cabin with a view of the lake from bed, a shower with only 3 walls so you can enjoy the lake view while showering (and hope nobody happens to walk past)! We got to take out a local dugout canoe and canoe around the lake and nearby islands! The lake is free from hippos, crocodiles, and other dangerous water and inhabitants and supposedly (we're crossing our fingers) it's also free from schisto and other sketchy diseases and bacterias that inhabit most Ugandan bodies of water. The island has no running water or electricity, so has something of a rustic, camping feel - so quiet and peaceful! So, we swam, hiked, cooked, played games, listened to music, talked and talked, and had a great getaway!

We're home for a few days now, and then early next week we head off to Kampala again (ugh! we don't love Kampala) for two and a half weeks of training! We have IST (in-service-training) with our training group for the first week and a half, and then a conference for all the volunteers in country after that. In between the trainings our group is planning to go whitewater rafting on the Nile river (how cool is that?!) and take a sunset Nile cruise. Should be a lot of fun!

Thanks for reading - we love and miss you all!


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