Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dear Jinja...

...Who are you and what have you done with Uganda?

We visited Jinja this past weekend and this was the thought that kept going through my head! Although we had an absolutely incredible weekend, it felt as if we’d suddenly left the Uganda we have come to know and love and were plopped into another world! It was a crazy feeling!

This trip was our first time traveling East of Kampala. We have a number of PCV friends in the area, and they had organized a trip out East during the time between our IST and upcoming all volunteer conference in Kampala. So we got to see another part of the country, hang out with friends, and take advantage of one of the big draws of the region - the Nile River!!! We had a really incredible time!!!

On Saturday morning we headed out early for a day of white water rafting on the White Nile. The company we rafted with took us on an all day trip, ending in a river side BBQ at the end of the day! It was such a great time to see a beautiful river and hang out with friends. The guides were great, the river was beautiful, the food was delicious! And, of course...the rafting was absolutely amazing! There is no feeling like it! The rapids on this section of the nile are known to be some of the wildest in the world, so it was a pretty high adrenaline, extreme experience! Some of the rafts in our group flipped at almost every rapid! So it was super exciting, super thrilling, and - SO MUCH FUN! At the end of the day they showed us a video of what we had just done, and I could not believe some of the rapids we all went through!!!! It was such a crazy experience. We loved it!

Then, Sunday evening we took a mellower route out on the river. We went on a two hour “sunset cruise” with drinks, appetizers, music, and great views! Although it was a lot less adventurous, it was a lot of fun!

Being in Jinja we got to see a completely different side of Uganda - a successful tourism industry! This was why our experience in Jinja felt so different than our day to day Uganda in Bushenyi! In our part of the country there is very little tourism, so being in an area that has built itself up on the tourism industry was quite remarkable! In Jinja there are local craft stores, a grid layout to the streets, and a number of restaurants that serve super good *nonlocal* food! While we were eating lunch at one of these establishments (Naan and hummus with feta cheese for me, a burger for Ryan! So not Ugandan food!), I looked around and realized there was not a single Ugandan eating in restaurant! It was a weird experience! Just because of where we are in the rural Southwest, this is a situation that would never happen to us at site! So, it was strange! But we really loved being tourists for the day! Because we don’t know Lusoga (the local language there) we really felt like foreigners, which I guess we are! It was just a strange feeling to be in the country I now call home and feel so much like a visitor. But, we enjoyed the brief hiatus as tourists and seeing a great town in Eastern Uganda. up is the All Volunteer conference (all 200 or so volunteers together sharing ideas, networking, making friends!) an appointment with PC medical (do I have a parasite?) and then home sweet home (at last!) Our next term at Bushenyi PTC starts the moment we get back, so we’ll hit the ground running (or as much as anyone runs in Uganda!)

Love and miss you all!

Take care and keep in touch!


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