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Kasese Trip Part 3… Rwenzori Hotel Chilling, Kampala and Traveling “Home”

February 20th, 2016
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My room. My haven.

I found the safari to be pretty stressful actually. I has happy to get back to the hotel, the Rwenzori Internation Hotel. I was ready for some decompression time, journaling, sitting, laying, watching tv, drinking tea, coffee and wine, etc. I REALLY liked the hotel, for 50,000 shillings, which is about 15$ USD, I had a great room on a great property with really good free breakfast.

My room had:

  • me as the only occupant. For the last half of the weekend I was the only occupant in the whole building (since there were multiple buildings on the premises)!
  • a tv with two channels
  • an AC that was ok, it didn’t get super cold, but it was still nice
  • no bedbugs!
  • an extremely clean looking bathtub
  • a balcony, on the ground floor (so I guess that’s a patio), and if I sat down (on the floor of the patio,) there were bushes that totally hid me but even if I stood, there weren’t many people around at all
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Relaxing. No bed bugs and a whole building all to myself! Heaven!

Sunday was an all day chill fest, which was very nice. I don’t even recall everything I did. I just REALAXED. I remember drinking some delicious coffee, instant with half water, half milk, both boiled, (which is typical for Uganda and me). I got a massage for 20,000 shillings ($5.88 USD), which was nice but probably not 100% sanitary. I tried to (and did) have lots of good alone time, meeting up with Luke for lunch, dinner, a walk, here and there. I thought a lot, journaled a lot and I think I got my head back to thinking about the professional and spiritual aspect of my trip, rather than the “It’s hot” “My feet are dirty” “My hair is a mess” and other cultural annoyances that I had been fixated on for the week leading up to the trip. I’m very happy for the realignment. read more

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Kasese Trip Part 2… Safari at Queen Elizabeth

February 16th, 2016
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Lots of buffalo.

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The model, shot 1. Most of the elephants were eating, walking or just doing their own thing. Not this one. She seemed to really like our attention and just kept striking poses.

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The model, shot 2.

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The model, shot 3.

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Baboons.

(click on any picture to see a bigger version)

My last blog left off with me on the way to the hotel. The hotel was awesome, but I’ll talk about that in my next entry. The first night was uneventful so here is the Safari story.

On Saturday morning, at 6:11 AM we (me and a friend of mine, Luke, from the UK who I met in Uganda) head out to Queen Elizabeth National Park with Stuart as the driver. The vehicle is more like a mix between a minivan and small SUV than an awesome safari vehicle, but that’s ok for what we paid. We actually only paid 77$ for the safari, and that would have been each day if we decided to continue. That doesn’t include our 15$ a night hotel. read more

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Kasese Trip Part 1… Traveling to Kasese from Mbale

February 15th, 2016
Uganda Map with QE trip

Uganda, with this adventure’s path drawn in yellow. Mbale to Kampala and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) and back.

This is the first part of a six day adventure that included a safari…. I went to Kasese, a town next to Queen Elizabeth National Park, meeting a friend, (Luke, from the UK who is living in Southwest Uganda and who I met volunteering with Sprout Care Foundation,) to do safari. This is that story….

On Thursday February 11, I left TAATA Kids Guest house, which I call home right now, for the latest adventure. I had my big backpack and my messenger bag stuffed. I don’t feel comfortable on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis, the number one way that Westerner’s die in the third world) so I REALLY wanted to take a matatu (a minibus/van taxi) to the post office to get on my bus that would then take me 6 hours to Kampala. The bus was Posta Bus aka Post Bus, which is the bus service that the Uganda Postal Service has. The Post Bus seems to be the best bus in Uganda for two reasons: it leaves at a scheduled time and they don’t pack it full, so I have always had a free seat next to me when I’ve taken it. It’s a great no hassle way to travel. The biggest problem with Post Bus, is it only travels once a day, the other buses might have 6 a day. read more

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Hiking Mount Wanale – My Best Hike Yet

February 10th, 2016
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The group at the school at the base of the mountain, before our hike.

Today I hiked Mount Wanale, which is just outside of our town of Mbale. It was the most challenging hike I’ve ever done (6864 feet, 2092 meters (Mt. Monadnock in NH was my highest before that, 3165 feet or 965 meters), it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and some parts were quite scary! Click on any of the pictures to see a bigger version.

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Nat. Geo. ladder. Yikes. They didn’t tell me about this!

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I wish I would have got more pics of the ladder, but once I was up it, I got away from it as soon as I could!

This ladder…. which I call 100% national geographic style, was about 20 feet tall, made with a whole bunch of sticks. Who knows how hold it was, and there didn’t seem to be any nails. At the ladder is where I said to my self, “Oh yeah, of course this isn’t deemed safe by the US Parks Dept or anything”. I was very scared, but only minutes earlier was I telling another girl, who was afraid of the heights and the steepness, that it’s all in the mind and you just have to power on and think about what you’re doing, not the risks. So, I tried to listen to my own advice, but I was thinking “Someone could die on this!” read more

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TAATA Kids – The Storm is Over!

February 1st, 2016
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My new home!

Friday January 29 I arrived at TAATA Kids in Mbale Uganda. I love it!!!! (The Storm is Over is Taata Kids’ motto, and I think it’s a good omen for the storm I just went through!)

I was originally going to stay here for 4 weeks after 4 weeks at my previous place. But, since I was only at that place for 1 week, I’m changing this one to 7 weeks. But, if I love it and want to stay here and cross some other orgs off the list, I will. Frankly I am a little sick of moving around and showing up at an unknown place…. read more

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Hell Week

January 29th, 2016

Right now it’s 6:15 am and my last day of one week with an org in which I did not have a good experience.

This week I have dealt with baby cockroaches in my toothbrush and mouth piece case, living in a storage room, bedbugs, mice (living in the home at peace with the family), compulsive lying and finding all my luggage had been looked through. I stayed in two different homes because I was not comfortable at the first. I would have been comfortable at the second, but that is where there were bedbugs were.

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This is how I spent yesterday. All day. Busted my butt. Nice lunch, huh?


I don’t know if this org is a good one or not but I couldn’t work on the website when I couldn’t trust the information I was being told. While I was doing the website I realized that they had lied to me prior to my arrival too. I do have to say the org isn’t totally bad, some of the people I met were great, and I know this org is doing good work because I did witness some good projects. They are probably doing other great work too, that I didn’t get a chance to see, but I’m just done. read more

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Teaching and Making Websites

January 22nd, 2016
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A 5 min walk from my Kalisizo home.

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Some serious local cuties.

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Another 5 min walk from my Kalisizo home.

I have spent the past month teaching a basic English class for adults and working on a website for a non-profit in rural Uganda, south of the Equator, in Kalisizo.

This has, hands down, been the best month of my life. Every day is not “perfect” and there are things I dislike but duh, that’s life. In fact, there were times that were VERY hard. But again, that’s life and it always felt good once the struggle passed.

My English Classes

I have two classes, each meets two times a week. This is my last week. 🙁 At the first class, many of the students, when greeted with “Hi” or “Hello”, would reply “I’m fine”, which is very understandable when you consider how their language, Luganda, is. They don’t have “Hi” or “Hello” in Luganda. Their simplest greeting is “How are you?”. So I can see why some have trouble with “hi”. read more

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KAMPALA!!!

January 15th, 2016
matatu 1

Me in the matatu, headed to Kampala. The boy next to me was taking selfies earlier, which gave me the confidence to take some.

matatu 2

This is what it looked like.

Busy intersection near my hotel.

Busy intersection near my hotel.

Same busy intersection, slightly different angle. This was on a Sunday afternoon. Imagine it on a busy Saturday afternoon, like when I arrived!

Same busy intersection, slightly different angle. This was on a Sunday afternoon. Imagine it on a busy Saturday afternoon, like when I arrived!

Last weekend I went to the capital of Uganda, Kampala. I went by myself, taking a 14 passenger minibus (called a matatu) on a 4 hour ride with my backpacking bag.

I made reservations with a hotel called the Pacific Hotel, which was in downtown Kampala. It was 18$ per night! My travel book acted like this would be a good place but I couldn’t really find any reviews online. I had a list of other hotels so I figured if this was bad I could go to another.

The ride up wasn’t bad. There was a chicken in the matatu, but she was quiet. 4 hours isn’t too bad when you don’t look at the time. I made conscious decisions during the ride to avoid looking at the time because I thought it would make me more “3 more hours. 2 more hours. 1 more hour. Etc.” My seat cushion did seem to sink down quite a bit by the time we got there. read more

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Ok New Year’s Celebration, Fabulous Life

December 31st, 2015

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Me and my village English class.

The end of the year! When I think back to what I was doing last New Year’s, I knew I wanted to get to Africa some how but I definitely never thought that I would be here one year later! Yay!

I haven’t been blogging as much as I did when I was in Liberia because I’ve been busy doing real work! I have been teaching English classes to adults and working on the website for Sprout Care Foundation.

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Me writing some stuff. I never thought I’d teach outside under a tree! What a joy!

Sprout Care Foundation, the organization that I’m currently volunteering for, is a community development organization that works to help their district of Uganda by doing many things. Some of the things are sponsoring children’s fees in local schools, helping poor families with various types of assistance, doing community education and awareness of stuff like HIV, waste management, nutrition and also adult education classes like English and Career Development. read more

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Ugandan Christmas

December 27th, 2015

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Me and Lucy at the Christmas dinner.


So Christmas was a couple days ago. Very different than in the states. We went to church at 9 am on Christmas Day and the service ended at 12:30 pm. By the time we got home it was 1 pm and the women started cooking. Christmas dinner, aka lunch, was served around 2:30 pm. It was a very large spread of all sorts of Ugandan food. Lucy and I gave some gifts to the family members at the house. Normally they don’t do gifts for Christmas.
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Christmas Lunch with the family!


Around 3:30 I went to a party with Prossy, a math teacher that lives with the family I’m staying with. Lucy wanted to come but she unfortunately had a migraine. The party was thrown by three daughters, for their mother, to say “thanks for still being alive”. The woman was 60, though I would have guessed that she was much older. She was a very sweet woman and she LOVES muzungos (white people) and she hugged me over and over again.
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Me and the woman who’s party it was. Constancia. And a little boy who I think is her grand kid.


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Then they gave me this huge meal. About 2 hours after I just had my big Christmas lunch. Matoke is the cooked, unsweet smashed banana. The yams are whitish, with purple bits. In the banana leaves are chicken and beef which were steamed. So good!!!


I had a great time at the party. There was a boy who seemed to be in his early twenties who spoke English very well, and infact spoke 4 languages total. He apparently was visiting from Rwanda. There was also lots of VERY cute little kids that liked to take pictures with me. One little girl I thought looked so much like a black version my brother’s daughter Hattie. Another little girl, Brenda, was great at English. The kids around here do learn English in school and actually most of their classes are in English. Still, I think some of them might have better teachers than others and some of course are shy to talk, let alone talk in a language that isn’t their main one. Brenda called me “Gloria”, which actually a lot of people in the states think I say when I say my name, but I didn’t want to correct
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These kids were great. Brenda, the girl 2nd from the right has GREAT English. The little girl in the yellow dress, I also found insanely cute.


her. I want to be Gloria for her! And I do like Gloria better than “Rory” or “Maury” which are some other names that people call me. Laurie is apparently hard to say around here. Since Brenda was the star of the kids (that’s how the kids seemed to see her, idolizing her for her excellent English), all the kids called me Gloria. I’m very ok with being Gloria.
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Some of the ladies from the party, eating in the back yard. That’s a banana farm behind them!

We just ate before we got to the party but there was also a very large meal served at the party. It was so cool looking! Rice, matoke (cooked, mashed, unsweet bananas), yams (which are different than American ones, they are less sweet and more starchy), an irish potato with spices, chicken (they said, I wonder if it really was) and beef steamed in banana leaves. How cool! I ate some of everything. Then I had a Coke and 2 orange Fantas. The first sodas were for the novelty of it, the third was because it was just gifted to me so I drank it. read more

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