Thursday, January 15, 2009

My November Visitors!

2 blog entries in sad. But this entry is about something that happened in 2008, does that count? Here goes...

On November 1st, 5 Americans set off from their comfy homes to embark on an adventure in Uganda with me! The five daring ones were MY MOMMA!, Tracey, Pam and Lindsay, and Kathryn. This blog entry depicts the 3 weeks in November when the 5 of them came to visit me in Uganda: told through their eyes and mine.

So obviously, my tactic of surprising my mom with my visit home so she would still come to Uganda worked! I was so excited that her and Tracey made the decision and then thrilled when I found out the other three would be joining them. I couldn’t wait for them to experience my life in Uganda.

In my mom’s words on her anticipation and the first few hours of being here:

Going to Uganda to visit Nicole, I imagine, will be one of, if not, the most exciting things I will ever do in my life. You know how most people have a place they've "Always wanted to visit"? Well, Africa was never on my list. But when Nicole told me I could go visit her to ease the long anticipated 2 1/2 years of waiting to see her again, I was like, "yeah right".... But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to go. How could I ever live with myself if I passed up an opportunity like that? I could not find out. Before I knew it we were in Detroit waiting to board our plane to Amsterdam, only a day away from seeing our girl. I felt safe and unnerved (other than being excited beyond my imagination), traveling with my buddies. As we landed in Entebbe, and we crossed the runway to enter the terminal, the 1st thing I had to do was check out the moon, (I LOVE the moon) and was so excited to see it in Africa. We were finally here.

It didn't seem real. BUT the excitement was too great for it not to be. Everything was smooth and happening really quick. The next thing I knew, there she was running to us with arms wide open and her smile was bigger than ever…simply unforgettable. She had a cab ready for us, but too many Muzungus (“the white ones”) and their luggage forced us to split up. We were on our way to Frank's Hostel in Entebbe, Nicole in one vehicle with our luggage, and me and my traveling buddies in the other.

We went first with Nicole close behind. Our driver was driving all over the road, I suspected he was trying to avoid the massive pot holes that appeared to be everywhere, but to me it seemed like he was aiming for them. Not even 30mins into the country, and 5mins into our drive, we have our first "scare" of our journey. Our driver turns right & Nicole's doesn't.... AHHHH!!! I started to ask him if he knew where he was going and he tried to repeat me with a question. Not only was the driver hitting every pot hole, he almost hit a boda (public motorcycle) driver peeing next to his motorcycle in the middle of the road. It was really strange as which point I calmly asked Pam to give me her worldwide Verizon cell phone. Of course, I knew Nicole's 15-digit phone number by heart, but at that point dialing it was a different story. At my third attempt we turned a big curve, pulled into a gated driveway & there Nicole was pulling in behind us. Her driver liked going the other way better. Thank God! I told her how scared I was and she gave our driver the what for, "this is their first time in Uganda, you should be welcoming them into the country, not scaring them!" she says in a stern, upset voice. Me, all relieved and grabbing my bags add, "yeah, no tip for you buddy", (thinking that was a great consequence) but the joke’s on me because they don't tip in Uganda!

Despite the fact that I was talking my driver’s ear off, I actually did realize that we didn’t turn when they did; however, it didn’t even cross my mind that they would be freaking out about the fact that I wasn’t there behind them. Whoops! The first of many airhead mistakes I made while everyone was here. I learned very quickly that these 5 people totally relied on my ‘expertise’ (ha) for everything. I felt like the mother hen with my chicks running behind me!!

We stayed up half the night drinking vodka mixed drinks and wine and reminiscing about their journey before we embarked on our 3 day safari adventure to Murchison Falls National Park. Probably one of the smartest things I did for planning the trip was to hire a private driver to drive us around. Public transportation is stressful for me when I am alone…I couldn’t imagine using it with my 5 chicks trailing behind me!! So Dominic, our awesome driver with his awesome safari van, was with us for 2 weeks.

Mom speaks very highly of him:

Traveling the whole first week with Dominic was simply the best. Everyone agrees we couldn’t of asked for a better guide/driver/friend. Anyone planning a trip to Uganda would miss out if you didn't hire him.

Kathryn also couldn’t say enough about our driver, who has become one of my good friends here.

There were six women and one fantastic private hire/ guide, Dominic; it was great. Dominic was truly someone wonderful to be with who had a wealth of information. He understood the country, the animals, the birds, and the people; everywhere we went they treated him with dignity and respect, which was such a comfort for me. (The 2nd part of the adventure of taking public transportation is a story book in itself! Yet to be written) He has a wonderful sense of humor. Thank-you, Nicole for all your hard work putting together that grand itinerary. What a great find Dominic was!!!

Dominic picked us up in Entebbe and took us on our first real adventure in Uganda, a place that was even new to me. We drove 6 hours up to the North Western part of the country to visit one of the most beautiful National Parks, Murchison Falls. On our way there, we stopped to check out the only 6 rhinoceros in Uganda at the Rhino Sanctuary. Due to the stellar driving skills of Dominic, we made it out alive…Kathryn tells this story:

On our way to Murchison National Park, we stopped at a Rhino Sanctuary; the muck was up to the bumpers of the van and we were looking down at it as if almost hit our faces, with big bulging eyes popping out of our faces…some sanctuary! We didn't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, tip over, or wonder if there was quick sand!! OH MY GOD!! The guide informed us that the Rhinos had gone way back into the water implying that we would have to hike to see them. “In these shoes??”, Nicole asked. All the guides/workers had on knee-length rubber rain boots, but do you think they could share? “...No boots for you!!!” said the guide. Someone else said " you should have boots for us to rent" "-" No boots for you, " he repeated himself. Nicole said firmly, "No boots for us, no hike for us, we shall return to receive our refund of shillings for we did not see the Rhinos". I believe it was less than ten minutes on our drive out of the sanctuary that our van got stuck. Not just a little stuck, I mean so very stuck deep in muck up past the rear end bumper. It probably didn’t help that our three hundred pounds of luggage was in the back! We figure that the extra 6 people and our body weight would probably do better good outside the van rather than weighing it down. So we got out. Remarkably, we were able to get out of the van on dry ground.

We had only been in Uganda for three days at this point so Paula was still kind of freaking out over the bugs, snakes or whatever else might get her, but in all fairness, she was being wise to keep her skin covered. She was bending over to put her pant legs into her socks, and I said, “Look Nicole, your mum has only been here a few days and she already has her ass-up!!” We then all proceeded to bend over and pretend to tuck our pant legs into our socks, just to make a good picture. The pictures are priceless. Our asses were up, the guys were digging out our stuck van, and mud was flying everywhere, hilarious!

It amazes me to think that throughout Africa, women work with their ass-up. They sweep, garden, wash dishes, wash clothes, and cook with no bend at the knees, yet quite a curve in the lower back. One day, Archie arrived at Tori's house and said "Hey, What's up, Tracey?" She replied "My ass, I've been washing dishes!!!!"

So then we discovered the stools they are functional, cute, and a reminder for me to keep my ass down!

The whole “ass-up” saying was something we continued to joke about the entire trip. Even with my Ugandan friends, they all put their ass up when they do anything in the village!! More about my village later, now, onto surviving the sanctuary!

Once we survived the Rhino Sanctuary after seeing only the ass of one rhino, (lots of asses that day) we were back on the road up to Murchison. Murchison is one of many national parks located in Uganda. It’s not called the “Pearl of Africa” for nothing! Here we went on a couple safaris, hiked to the top of the falls, and went on a boat cruise.

Our first safari day fell on November 4th …election day (and Ryan’s birthday!). Because we were in the middle of the national park with no electricity or access to the outside world, I wasn’t sure exactly how we would find out the results. At one point Kathryn said “I wonder who the 44th president of the United States is…”. Not 15 minutes later I received a text message from my Obama Loving Friend, Archie stating “And the 44th is…………………..Obama!” It was a funny coincidence and an exciting day for me and my Ugandan friends (I won’t speak for everyone).

Murchison has all the “African” animals you typically think of when you think of an African Safari. We walked among the giraffes, watched lions ‘almost’ hunt, cruised along the Nile with the hippos, and witnessed herds of buffalo, water bucks, and elephants. Pam tells us about the boat cruise along the Albert Nile, different from our rafting experience on the Victoria Nile!

The first time we saw the Nile River it seemed so surreal to me. It was very wide and serene with puffs of foam floating everywhere. All I could imagine was Cleopatra floating down it on her elaborate boat. We took a cruise up the river to see the Murchison Falls. The water was like glass and then all of a sudden someone said they saw a hippo. Of course, we were all excited and straining to see for ourselves. At first, it was one or two heads and then tons of them! Being the westerners that we are, we were in awe!! Who could imagine these huge animals just living under the still water. It was amazing!! As we made our way further upstream, we saw lots more wildlife, but the hippos commanded most of my attention until there in the distance was the falls. It was beautiful!! We couldn't get as close as you do at Niagara Falls, but it was awesome!! The next day we hiked up to the top of the falls with a guide and got to see everything up close and personal including a nice shower from the mist of the falls. It felt wonderful and we dried in minutes as it was very hot out. We discovered there were two sets of falls and the second was formed from a flood about the time that Uganda gained its freedom from England, so they named the second ones Freedom Falls.

Of course, it was not all about business at the National Park. On our last night, Mom, Tracey, and I decided to stay up late to bond with some of the employees. I don’t remember much, but mom tells this story!

We spent a couple nights at Murchison and chatted a bit with the workers from the place we stayed. There were two young men working at the bar one night, Emanuel and Nick. On our last night, Nicole, Tracey and I stayed up with the guys found them passing the time by playing with this giant cricket. The biggest cricket I'll probably ever see.

Nicole tried warning me about the crazy bugs there. This thing was so big you almost wanted to dress him up in a doll size tuxedo. We decided he needed a name so me, a couple of rum and cokes, and my love for the singer/song writer Jack Johnson, pretty much insisted his name be Jack. No one could come up with anything better so everyone accepted. Jack the giant cricket it was! At this point, I’m pretty sure that Emmanuel and Nick thought we were legitimately crazy! Well, the next morning came around and 'Jack' was missing. Emmanuel and Nick were very vague and refused to answer questions about the whereabouts of Jack, the giant cricket that needed to be in a tuxedo! You had to be there. To this day, we are still not sure about what happened to our little friend, Jack.

Even in Uganda, mom can’t forget about Jack! What about Steve?! Ha, sorry dad!!

So our three day safari adventure came to an end on Friday when we drove 8 hours across the country to the Source of the Nile, where we would embark on or next adventure…The Mighty White Nile! Before we got there though, of course, there is a story in between! Driving in Uganda is hardly anything but quiet, but being sooooo hung over and trying to sleep, I was really hoping for a smooth 8 hour ride…I guess I could hope, right? Lindsay’s ride was much more memorable than mine:

We were on our way to Jinja where we would go rafting. This was going to be an all day van ride, so we had left very early in the morning (6:40 to be exact) in order to get there at a reasonable time. Some of us napped on and off during the trip and at one point I woke up to Paula whispering “we just blew out a tire”. I sat up, looked around, and realized that we were basically in the middle of nowhere on what I considered to be pretty close to a dirt road. It was more like that reddish clay, but whatever. We happened to be stopped in front of a couple of small huts where a family was outside, a man, woman, several young children running around, and one small baby. I actually counted 8 children total. Most of them were barefoot and the mother was sitting on the ground breastfeeding the baby. She did not stop on our account, breastfeeding is completely normal to do whenever/wherever in Ugandan culture. So needless to say, we saw our fair share of boobs. The man was sewing up tall canvas bags full of charcoal, I think to be sold right there on the side of the road. The children were all waving and pointing at the “muzungus”. Once the initial excitement of seeing white people passed, they just stood and stared at us. Nicole was able to exchange a few words in their language with the man, but overall his English was not very good. In the background, some of the kids were running in and out of the hut, yelling for our attention When we would look their way, they’d giggle and run back inside. A fun little game of Ugandan peek-a-boo. One of the little girls gestured for me to come over to her. It was like a backwards wave, which means “come here”. I wasn’t sure if it would be kosher to approach her, so I looked back to my group and my Mom was like “go ahead, Linds”. She knew I was itching to get close to the little girl. So I slowly made my way over to her with my hand held out as a sign of friendship and peace. She only stood there with her delicate, unwashed hands in her mouth staring at me with beautiful brown eyes. I could tell that she was nervous. She looked towards the man, who spoke to her and gestured towards me. I believe he was telling her that it was okay. She was frozen in that spot. I spoke to her, saying hello and how beautiful she was, all the while maintaining my hand extended out to her. It was as unusual to her as it was to me. Who knows if she has ever seen a muzungu up close before. And for me, I wanted to communicate with her, but the language barrier was too much. A smile and soft voices were enough, they had to be.

Nicole then reminded us that we had some pineapple left over from breakfast in the van that we could offer them. They clearly didn’t have much and were most likely very hungry. So Tracey and I got the fruit and held it out to them. They weren’t nervous to come near us then. They graciously accepted the pineapple, kneeling at our feet and bowing their heads as a sign of gratitude and respect; another heart melting moment. They all then sat in a group and devoured the pineapple with huge smiles on their faces. The man thanked us. It was a bittersweet moment; I was so happy to see their smiles and appreciation, but also sad to see how they were living. Kids without shoes, some of them wearing nothing but a long T-shirt, no beds, dirt floors, just pure poverty. One little boy’s belly was so protruded, probably from a combination of malnourishment as well as worms. I know, how sad right? The poor little guy had to be physically prompted to take the pineapple from us. Again, it puts a whole new prospective on our lives and what we have, how truly fortunate we are. I forget that too often. I’m glad the tire went flat that day.

No AAA in Uganda, so Dominic changed the tire himself and we were back on the road within 30 minutes. 30 minutes that felt like 3 hours in my hung over world. Finally, we made it to Jinja around 3pm that day and I refused all beer for the day. Being hung over rafting on the Nile was not something I wanted to experience. Emotions raged with fear, excitement, anticipation, anxiety, exhilaration, and apprehension. Mom shares her memories from the Nile:

One of my anticipated adventures was rafting on the Great Nile River. I was so excited and it was the coolest thing. The day was overcast, which was a good thing because we would of fried! The temperature was perfect. Rapids, scary yet amazing, grade 4 & 5, they don't kid around…you can get seriously hurt. I believe it was the 3rd rapid we faced and lost half of our passengers, all surfaced and retrieved except, NICOLE!!!! I went in to a panic and I searched the river as far as I could see. No Nicole, I tried asking Prince Charles (our guide) where she was but he was too pre-occupied with other random rafters being saved in the rapid. It was intense, in his own little distracting way he appeared to try to assure me she was safe. Yet, still I could not see her. Only a minute or two had passed but it was enough to escalate my panic mode into almost hysteria.

Then, Prince Charles says, as he looks around some more, "We're missing a paddle"? At which point I screamed with my arms in the air, "WE'RE MISSING A PERSON!!!!!” I wanted to hit him with my paddle. Ugh!!! He then, in a more direct manner and seriousness assured me that my daughter was safe. It still took a minute or so for me to see for myself but then I found her she was waving & floating on a rescuers kayak just hanging out as we drifted to her. Once again thank you GOD!!!

We definitely had one of the best guides, Prince Charlie, or Prince of the Nile, whatever you prefer! When we succeeded on a rapid, (when I say ‘succeeded’, I mean, everyone who started IN the raft at the beginning of the rapid, ended IN the raft at the completion of the rapid) Prince Charlie and our team would put all of our paddles in the center of the raft and yell “PRINCE OF THE NILE!!!”. And of course, when you have a prince, you must have princesses and a Queen! With Charlie and his girls, our fear and apprehension soon turned into confidence and hilarious times. Linds tells one of our hilarious moments:

So there we were, a little freaked out (or at least I was) after our raft had flipped on a grade 3 rapid. I had been sucked up and spit out repeatedly before I was finally rescued by a kayaker, who made sure that I was okay and then proceeded to exclaim: “didn’t they tell you to hang on if the boat flipped?!” Well, no shit, but it’s just a little difficult to do so when you are being tossed around like a ragdoll in one of the biggest rivers in the world! Needless to say, I survived and still don’t regret taking my chances rafting on the Nile. The whole day was absolutely amazing, but there were a few highlights. One involved me laughing so hard that I actually took after my Mom and pseudo-Mom and peed my pants, well bathing suit if you want to get technical.

We came to a rapid and most of the people in our raft managed to get tossed out, all except me and another girl that was with our group. Nicole was able to hold onto the boat (what a rafting pro that girl is), at which time Charlie, our guide, attempted to pull her back in before she, too, got carried off by the water again. As he is doing so, he is literally screaming at her (we knew he was joking though) to “hurry, hurry up, there are crocodiles! CROCODILES!!!!!!!! They are coming for you!! Hurry, get in!!!!” In the meantime, I am laughing my ass off because of the way Charlie was saying all of this and watching poor Nicole trying her best to help pull herself up onto the boat. Now this is not an easy task, especially after being swallowed up by the rapids, at which time your arms have the strength of a toothpick! Add laughing to that and then see how quick you can get back into that raft. So here’s Nicole being pulled up by her life jacket laughing uncontrollably because she is going to potentially be eaten by these crocodiles, whose lunchtime it just happens to be. The other girl in the raft and I were helpless because we had lost our strength from laughing so much, we couldn’t even help pull Nicole in. What a time to be useless, right?! But we knew that Charlie had it under control. All I have to say is thank God we were in water because I had complete loss of bladder control from all of the excitement! I am my mother’s daughter!!

Ok, so can I just clarify one thing? There ARE crocodiles in the river and it WAS lunch time! So while I was outside of the raft hoping people on the inside would help me back in, I had no idea that Charlie was actually joking around when he was screaming his face off telling me to hurry up and get in. I was FREAKING OUT! Meanwhile, Lindsay is peeing her pants laughing and leaving me to the crocs! Thanks, Linds! But once I managed to get in, we all had a good laugh, and even still, I laugh every time I think about it!! Good times with the Queen(s), the Prince and his Princesses!!

Ahhh, ok so after our week of ‘touristy’ things, we continued east to my hometown, Mbale. Of course, I was happy to go rafting again, and visit Murchison, but my real excitement was to have my visitors come to my home and experience MY life in Uganda. Everyone got down and dirty in the village with roughing it from using a pit latrine, to bucket bathing, and experiencing the power outages. They even went around to see some of my work in Uganda. Here are some highlights!

Mom talks about visiting one of the communities I work in:

One of the most heart-warming parts of our trip was meeting the people Nicole works with everyday and being able to visit some of FDNC's communities that she works in. All the people were so welcoming and oh so happy that we came to meet them and see their country. I was especially surprised at everyone’s reaction to me when they found out I was Nicole's mother. You would’ve thought I was the Queen, I kid you not. I imagine because I produced her and they adore her. Richard, her counterpart, brought tears to my eyes as he spoke to us of how grateful they are to have her there, explaining what a big help she is there, as he thanked me, her Dad, & God for giving her to them. When we were traveling through the different villages and seeing how the local Ugandans lived, I made eye contact with several of them. I sensed so many feelings looking at their eyes, although we spoke no words. I sensed despair, anger, longing, sadness, happiness, gratitude & hope. As I was there I couldn't help but think, 'I wish every American could come here and witness up close and personal their way of life'. I just wonder how that would change our world.

Lindsay talks about her experience at the Kisakye Memorial Special Needs School, where we spent an afternoon with the children who have various disabilities:

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love kids. So one of the things I was most excited for in Africa was seeing the children. Upon arrival to Nicole’s village, we visited the special needs school that is close by. They have one amazing teacher and a classroom full of about 15 kids or so, all with various physical and/or mental disabilities. As we entered the classroom, there were chairs lined up along the front of the room for us to sit in. This is the kind of treatment we got wherever we went, pretty unbelievable actually! So we all sit down and the teacher proceeds to lead the children in several songs they had prepared for us. They began singing a song that read: “this is the time to welcome our visitors; happy, we are happy to say welcome”. Well, that’s all it took to melt my heart! I lost it. Just watching their tiny, beautiful faces as they sang to us put me over the edge. These kids have close to nothing and yet they are so happy! I was overcome with emotion and the tears flowed from my eyes so heavily that I nearly had to get up and leave the room. Tracey and Nicole looked at me and almost started to cry too. I was finally able to pull myself together and continue watching and listening as they sang about dancing, God, etc. We can really learn a lot from these kids. They are just like the ones here who have special needs; friendly, happy, and adorably cute who just need that little bit of extra time, love, and care. Just seeing how little they have and how much they make out of just that is truly inspiring and uplifting. It made me realize that I shouldn’t take things for granted and to be thankful that I was born where I was with all of the privileges that I have.

After their presentation to us and observing part of a lesson, we were treated to a delicious lunch and got to hang out with some of the kids. One little girl named Katie, who was absolutely adorable, took a liking to me and occupied my lap for a good half hour or so. She loved my sunglasses and had to repeatedly try them on. I didn’t mind because she looked so cute in them! She was also fascinated with my hair and enjoyed just being held and cuddled. At one point, another little girl named Jane, who couldn’t walk and had to scoot along the ground to get around when she wasn’t being pushed in her homemade wheelchair made from a white plastic lawn chair, came in and got into a little verbal argument with Katie, I think over wanting to sit on my lap, but Katie wouldn’t let her. I am basing this on hand gestures and tone of voice because they were speaking in their local language so we couldn’t understand them. But Jane was pointing to me and yelling at Katie about something, I mean really yelling in her small yet powerful voice, at which point Katie would snuggle in closer to me and say no to Jane, giving her this look like “ha, ha, she’s mine; I’m sitting here and there’s nothing you can do about it”. I felt bad for poor Jane sitting there on the floor. Jane then scooted out the door and back into the classroom. Poor thing!!

Mom talks about one of her challenges and amazing moments:

Going to the bathroom in all the different types of bathroom we encountered I'd say was the most challenging. For example, the worst was a cement floor with a rectangular slit in it. Whoa, I don't mind roughing it, but that to me was a little shocking. While we were at Nicole’s village, we were 98 steps from her 'latrine pit' as she calls it. Just to give you an idea, when you woke up in the middle of the night and you thought you had to go.... you really thought about whether you had to go. Although, I must admit that it was the best 'bathroom' on the trip, pleasantly surprising! The very first night Kathryn woke & needed a bathroom buddy to accompany her down the path. I am so thankful I woke up to join her. On our way back we stopped to look up at the sky and see all the stars. It was amazing…more stars and constellations than you can possibly imagine! As we stood there at 3o'clock in the morning, not remembering it was prime time for the malaria carrying mosquitoes to be out, I witnessed a shooting star! Again, thank you God and thank you Kathryn for having to pee!!!! The sky was never found looking that amazing again during our stay.

And the full moon party!! Of course, from mom:

On November 14th, we had a full moon party/my early 50th birthday party! This was a pretty big deal because I planned my trip around the full moon, sounds silly but true. Just ask my travel agent, Maryanne Petrie if you don't believe me! Nicole planned a party just for me because I have them in America and she wanted to have one in Uganda. I was so excited and could not wait. She invited all her friends and it was wonderful…until I got drunk and fell asleep! I like to think I was just to overwhelmed to function.

The full moon party was quite a party. It was the most people that had been in Tori’s house at once ever! Somehow, we managed to feed everyone and host a great time! As you heard, SOME people had too much fun!! But the fun soon ended when we had to say good bye to Pam and Linds….and sadly, to our private driver. I don’t think anyone really wanted to talk about their experience on public transportation and I don’t blame them. It’s scary, but it’s part of my life here, and I wanted them to experience my life. That, they did!! We ventured to Luwero, my home for the first 10 weeks in training. American Mom meet my Ugandan Mom!!

Tracey talks about her experience with my Uganda Family that I stayed with for the first 10 weeks of being here.

The stay at Luwero was a lot of things, great, horrifying, painful, and hilarious. Let me explain:

Great: Everyone there was awesome, just like everyone in Uganda they were so welcoming. Josephine, Peter, Cathy and Victor were all there welcoming us with open arms. Their house was beautiful and they had ice cold water for us after a very long journey. It was GREAT!

Horrifying: So after some water and getting settled in, I needed to use the bathroom. Nicole says she is going also so I follow her. She walks around back a goes into where are staying.. I didn't realize we need to stop for some TP. Then we go back to the latrines, which was about a 7 inch by 3 inch rectangle (also off center). Let’s just say there is some acquired skill involved, which I did not have. It was pretty HORRIFYING!.

Painful: Victor, is two. Let’s just say he is terrible. Well, only when you didn't pay attention to him, then he would come up and BITE! If I had known picking him up and swinging him around meant playmate for the day, I would have made better choices. So whenever my attention wasn't on Victor, his teeth where in my thigh. He was a tall two year old, and boy was he PAINFUL!!

Last but not least

Hilarious: Josephine, Cathy, Nicole, mom and I are all sitting chatting on the front stoop when to my left I hear the two house girls screaming and yelling, and then a rooster clucks. I think to myself "what kind of game are they playing over there??" after a few minutes they come around the corner to the front of the house and they are following the rooster. I ask Josephine what they are doing and they tell me they are getting dinner! OH MY GOD!

We watch a few more minutes while these girls try and try again to corner this rooster until Momma Joe says "let me show you how it’s done!" half a minute later (including her 25 sec walk to the rooster) she has it. I blinked and missed it! Good thing we got it on tape to watch over and over again! It was HILARIOUS!!!

After the stay, we continued the adventure on public transportation from Luwero back to Mbale. I think I was more stressed out then they were! At least this time, I only had 3 little chicks behind me. To pass the time on a bus in the bus park Tracey explains what we did for the 3 hours:

Nicole and I had a contest against Mom and Kathryn to see who could name more things that you can buy waiting on a bus. We wrote down things we saw either out the window or that people had coming on the bus and walking down the aisle. This was the list we came up with:

socks, t shirts, handkerchiefs, purses, sliver ware, wallets, watches, razors even electric ones, chips(a plate of french fries), bread, g nuts, memo pads, umbrellas, radios, lights, newspapers, change purse, airtime for cell phones, gum, fried chicken, belts, bananas, apples, ties, table cloth, suit coats, water/soda, random candy, footballs (soccer), locks, muffins, flashlights, earrings, dolls, mirrors, comb, notebooks, “Lord Heal Me” books, sunglasses, slinky, pillows, ice cream cone, eye glass case, chocolate bar, hats, glucose biscuits, shawls, cookies, yogurt, mats, toothbrush, toothpaste, baby outfits, calendar posters, bags, rings, eggs, photo albums, scarves, necklace and earring sets, kids socks, headache medicine, cell phones, GRASSHOPPERS, wraps, sandals, oranges, baby shoes, wall hangings, and pants.

Nicole and I won.

During this week after we dropped Pam and Linds off, I didn’t really have much planned. I was mostly just relieved to spend some time in the village and relax after the two weeks of traveling/entertaining. Basically, we were villagers! Drinking Bloody Marys, Russian Mimosas, and playing with the cutest little 2 year old EVER! It was a good thing Emma was there to entertain us because I was tired of being the center of attention!! Regardless, the last week was full of relaxing and enjoying the village life, my life. Not quite the beach vacation, but it will do!

And this is a story about our last night, African Sister Style…in Tracey’s words:

On our last Friday night in Uganda, Nicole and I decided that I needed a night out, AFRICAN STYLE. So we went out to this crazy place called ‘Restville’ where tons and tons of people were all hanging out drinking and dancing. The main reason there were tons of people was because the beer Pilsner was sponsoring a search for the hottest DJ. Unfortunately, we weren’t the hottest DJs, but we were definitely drunk! The ploy was if you buy 3 Pilsners, you get the 4th free; and then if you buy 5, you get a wicked awesome Pilsner glow in the dark t-shirt. And boy did we want some t-shirts. So after I decided that I didn't need to drink my delicious Nile Special, I joined Nicole drinking Pilsner….these where some pretty awesome t-shirts. Nicole’s friend, Noel and this guy who I didn't know at the time (Edward, I think) were talking about the Pilsner shirts and Nicole and I were very interested. So Nicole being the shameless white girl in Uganda goes up to him and asks what the deal is and he says "I was just telling Noel how I have all the Pilsner shirts in my car because I am with the crew"! Nicole’s like “I WANT A MEDIUM!!!” So after the first 2 drinks (about 4 beers) Eddie brings out the shirts and of course we all put them on…boy did we LOOK GOOD! By this point we are on our 3rd beer and ready for the 4th free one (already in ours shirts). I felt like I owned the place…Restville had no idea what it was getting itself into letting two white sisters into the place!! So I go and get the free beer and go back to hang out with Jingo, Noel, Irene, Nicole, and Hasfa. We were all dancing and having Oreo sandwiches (big hugs with me in the middle of two or more Ugandans!) I was super excited for the sandwich between Noel and Jingo that I knocked my beer over and it went all over my foot and some on Nicole!!! It was ok because the party was still BUMPIN!! The camera was out, pictures were taken, beers were consumed, and there was dancing on chairs all night!! You know, the only two white girls trying not to stand out too much! All in all it was one of the best times out in the African Night Life scene!

I was disappointed that our shirts weren’t medium, they only came in one size…XL, but I was just happy that we got 6 shirts and didn’t have to buy 30 beers!! It’s great to know people!!

With that being the conclusion of the 3 week adventure for the 5 daring ones, I must say that it was quite the experience on my end having them here. I went through so many emotions during the visit, but mostly I was just overwhelmed with joy that they made such a huge leap to come to Uganda to see my life here. We had such an unbelievable time experiencing this part of the world together and me opening up my new world to people that mean so much to me. I hope that you girls had an amazing, unforgettable time with me here...and the rest of you, I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventure!!


Tracey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracey said...

yay nicole you did a great job bringing this all together. it sounds great and not as long as i thought it would be!

xoxox see you in OCTOBER!!

Momma said...

This is so great, I was so excited to read & really enjoyed it. Yet there was so much more to tell, like me getting yanked by 4 or 5 Ugandans in the taxi park trying to get me to go in "their taxi." Nicole wouldn't let me tell all my scary stories. ha ha As you all have read, the majority of our trip was amazing & so much fun. I still haven't come down from it, nor do I intend too anytime soon. Hope you all love it. thanks Africa, I love you!!

Aunt Kathy said...

Well I think I've finally made it...I already typed a message but it wouldn't let me post it so now I'll be arriving here a different way I guess....sounds like and I'm sure it was a great trip and most of the adventures I think I could have handled had I been there ..EXCEPT...what would you have done with me while you were rafting down the Nile....cuz CHICKEN S**T that I am...I wouldn't have been with you....LOL...I'm sure there are lots more pics that I haven't seen yet but eventually I probably will...xx Aunt KK

Aunt Janie said...

Ok I will try this again.. Finally a blog from Africa!! Love the way that you tied in everyone's adventures. I don't know if this will work because I think I forgot how to post on there (this is my second attempt!) Love and miss you. xoxox
Aunt Janie

k said...

Thank-you !!Nicole for all of your kindnesses!!! I truely enjoyed the experince of being in that part of the world with you ,it was amazing and so are you, much love and goodness to you love k

Pam said...

You did an awesome job summing up all our entries. I loved the whole experience and it has forever changed the way I think and feel. I miss you and I got a kick out of your road trip from Kampala!

anut patty ;) said...

OK!!! I haven't even read it yet...started to, but it looked like it was gonna take awhile!! So I am printing it out right now so I can devour every word and share it with others!!! Sounds amazing from everyone else's comments!!
Love you sweetie!! ANUT!!!

Liz Rocker said...

This was freakin great!!!! Your mom said it was long- but as soon as you start reading it- you don't want it to end! I love how some parts made me laugh, others made me cry... It was just wonderful- you really should write it all done!
Be safe- talk to you soon!