Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pictures - 3

Rapids for riding.

Went down these.



Pictures - 2



Nice clouds.

Start of the Nile.


Pictures - 1

View from house.


Street electioneering

Dan at bar.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Okay so today is sadly my last day in Uganda, and I'm finding it hard to say goodbye. The Naidoo family have been extremely generous in letting me crash at their place and eat their food for about a month. Packing took little time, but the one thing I'm always paranoid is forgetting about stuff, luckily I kept checking again and again.
But the crazynest of Uganda wasn't finished with me yet! While driving to Entebbe airport we were intrigued by the large number of heavily armed commando types lining the main highway. That only meant one thing; the President is coming back to town! So I definitly had the fun of going through a massive amount of AK wielding security personel at the airport! Yay!
Flying to Dubai was pretty straightforward after that, I met some other Canadians on the flight. Small world, they too went on the whitewater rafting trip and had the same crazy Rhodesian intrustor guy !

Now before I left the house, I remember being drilled by Keshy's mom about this secret lounge at the Dubai airport. This "meditation chamber" was open to all, and this wonderfull place was supposed located right beside the business lounge. Now I understandibly went searching for this small oasis. Now I kept walking towards the business lounge, but I could not find the place, so I was a bit confused... I kept walking forward and forward. Then I realized: hey wait a minute, I am in the business lounge right now and nobody has stopped me.... sweet! Immeadiatly my mind told me to chill out and act cool, theres no reason to leave the place if nobody is kicking you out.

So right now I am chilling out in the lap of luxury, but keeping a low profile. Ha people pay a 10 grand ticket for this type of service! This clueless tall guy just walked in without a fuss! Not my fault, I didnt know ! ha
So now I just have to deal with occasional paranoia whenever a security guard or emirates official walks by, but no biggie ha !
So I'm back in TO at 3:45, its been a great trip

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 31: African Lion Safari

So today was a big day, it was time to see some iconic African game on the open planes! So we had to get up before dawn and start to drive back to the park. What was real funny is that the silly park didn't open its gates until 7:00am, its probably some scam to keep the suckers in the expensive park hotel. But we made a deal with the park guard; we gave him a little token of our appreciation for some “efficiency enhancement” and he let us in no problem. So we got where we wanted no problem, and we caught the ferry to the other side of the river to start the game drive. We then got a guide to ride with his trusty AK-47, I don't think the gun will do much to stop a charging elephant, but whatevs. The guy told us a crazy story about a previous group of tourists that got to close to a lone bull elephant, the car got trampled pretty bad, but fortunately nobody died.
What was real magical was that we saw a big herd of giraffes right in front of the rising sun. That was a real impressive sight! Those animals are real tall and they move so gracefully across the savanna. There was a ton of buck running around in the park, they came in all shapes and sizes, which was good because they attract the most famous of predators, lions! Yep we saw a couple of lions lazily lying down under some shade, all females, probably getting ready for the hunt. It was pretty impossible to get a good picture with that little camera that I had, but I got a pretty good view of the predators with my binoculars. So we parked right in front of the lionesses, we stared at them, they stared at us, then they disappeared in the bush.
We got a little bit of a scare when we drove unexpectedly right in the middle of a whole lot of grazing water buffaloes. Those animals are real killers, you dont want to mess with. So we were pretty on edge, we kept moving very slowly, ready to floor it if need be. We were so close to the buffalo, that was pretty cool. At the end of the ride, we were lucky to see a huge bull elephant walking around alone, at the exit. Kinda saying goodbye, ha.

This time on the way back we saw another equally memorable sight, it was the remnants of the vast array of refugee camps for displaced people in the north. It was a pretty sobering sight, there were little huts as far as the eye could see. It was sad, but their was solace in knowing that the situation wasn't as bad as it once was. The northern rebels are less active as they once were, but we were still in dangerous country.

We arrived at the compound in the afternoon. The good thing is that my sunburn is wearing off, I will be grateful for that when I'm squeezed in economy class on the flight home on Thursday.

Day 30: River Adventure!

We had to wake up villainously early at 4:45am this morning to start our long drive to the Merchantson Falls National park, because today were gonna see some wildlife yay! We had an insanely bumpy drive on the way up there, now I really understand why everybody drives big 4by4s in this country ha. At one point there was a big section of the road under construction, so the workers put an endless amount of speed bumps in sequence in an effort to slow down the cars I guess. Ughhh every time I tried to fall asleep a big bump would send my head into the window. Well we got into Masindi town right outside the park to check in our hotel. It's a great little German mission that rents a couple of beds at a real cheap rate, a nice place. So we dropped off our stuff and headed towards the game park, a bit more of a drive through the rain forest. While driving to the park we kept seeing a familiar sight, Baboons!!! Those lazy monkeys were everywhere, laying on the roads lazily walking away from the car. And its not like we can knock them off the road, those monkeys can hold a grudge for a very long time.
So once we got to our destination we realized it was too late in the day for a game drive, animals don't walk around in the scorching mid day sun, so we had to book that for tomorrow morning. What we could do that day was take a boat ride to the waterfalls, and see all the animals by the water.

So we took a very scenic boat cruise on the Nile, and I saw some pretty amazing animals running around. A lot of Hippos were lying around, periodically popping in and out of the water to check us out, those are pretty dangerous things, and you don't want to get too close. There was also a lot of water buffalo and other buck walking around in the water doing their thing. Then I saw a big giant lumbering around in the distance, it was a big bull elephant. The size of those things are simply amazing, the elephants are pretty much walking bulldozers. I saw one knock over a big tree like if it was a flower. At one point we were very lucky and saw a whole herd of elephants, about 10 of them I think. You couldn't see them at first, but you could make out movement in the bush, trees were being tossed side to side, you knew something big was coming. The group of elephants walked along side of the boat and I managed to get some nice photos. It was a pretty memorable sight. There were dozens of other animals long the river side, we saw crocodiles and birds just going about their business.

The boat stopped at the waterfall, and steamed right back, the whole ride took about 3 hours. We were extremely tired on the way back and Joseph Keshy and I had to drive back to our hotel in the dark on a very untrustworthy road. All I can say is that we were very very careful. When we got back we had some chow and hit the hay soon after, to catch the game tomorrow, we would have to be out of there by 5:00am.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 28: ITs a great thing they have over here

Damn, I sure felt the pain this morning, these sunburns are starting to kill. Luckily the family gave me some lotion to treat it for a while. “Nah, but no amount of pain can't stop me I am a tough guy” so I thought. In the morning one of the family friends Anita took me to great little market to pick up some nice souvenirs and gifts for the family. To get there we had to take a local bus or a “Matatoo” as they say here, so that was interesting. The bus is pretty much an over-sized minivan with a “recommended carrying capacity of 14 people” yeah there was definitely more than 14 people when I got on. So that was fun, I swear there was some chickens flying around in the back ha! So when I got out of the matatoo, I realized the damage of being squeezed like that had done to my already sunburned legs, ouch. So after the bus ride it was only a short walk to the market place, and with the help of my great guide we managed to pick out some great gifts at the best price :).
That night the family hosted a big get together with the karate pupils, who are really the extended family and we all had a great time. Its amazing how the Naidoo family has really touched the lives of the people that came over today. I mean the Dad has been training the students for like 15 years now, so there is a real sense of family between everybody that came over.
We were also celebrated the 50 birthday of Mme Naruka, so there was a big cake and much jubilation. What was really touching was that the family made sure to package extra food and cake to the less fortunate pupils and their families. At one point we all sat in a circle and each person talked about about the importance of this little community in their lives, it was all very touching.
Its really remarkable how generous this family can be, and I really hope that I can make a positive impact of the lives of others, like the Naidoo family.
And PS: I remembered to take a lot of pictures :)

Day 27: Rafting on the Nile

All I can say is that I made one mistake on my fantastic trip on the Nile, I made sure to put on some sunscreen in the morning, but I forgot the bottle at the house. Ouch! We will get to that later...
So the plan today was to hook up with a white water rafting company and spend the day on the choppy waters on the Nile. Well we had to wake up nice and early in the morning and catch the company bus to Ginger. To poor Keshy's dismay, the bus was full of tourists! So the poor guy had to endure a two hour bus ride of conversation covering such interesting topics covering; the coolness of trekking Rwanda, up too the right shutter speed for your digital camera, ha. But when we got there, we had a great time. Naturally we signed up on the toughest and most insane instruction we could find, a crazy Rhodesian guy who promised to f*** shit up, ha! So our raft was the tough guy raft and the instructor never made us forget it! So we hit the biggest of the rapids without a second thought, but only once did the whole boat flip over :). A lot of times we were just hit with a massive wall of water that took half our crew with it! When the instructor yells GET DOWN, you better do it. The craziest part was when we faced a huge 6 meter waterfall, and nobody could think of a reason not to go over it. Yep that hurt a little bit, especially when the entire back of the boat came flying over us. But we survived and shrugged it off pretty fast.
The instructor guy had some pretty interesting stories to tell, he pretty much is like Mr. Adventure Africa. He told us a crazy story about the time when he and his buddies kayaked the entire Nile river, and even got into a firefight with bandits in Ethiopia, damn thats hardcore!
Well I was having so much fun that I didn't even realized what the glaring sun was doing to my poor skin, so got a mean sunburn, not good.
It was a pretty good deal that we got, 125 bucks got us a whole day of rafting, a ride their and back, a free lunch and some beer at the end Yay! Good times, at the Nile, but this sunburn isn't going away anytime soon :(.

Day 26: End of the line at pincer

So its the last day of trying to look busy at the Pincer office ha! Well we managed to get something that looks pretty decent done, and our supervisor seemed pretty satisfied. The newsletter isn't a hundred percent done, their still some formating issues, but I guess that work is going to be finished off after I leave. So we got a pat on the back, and we were hurried away yay! In the afternoon, we conferenced with Dr. Naidoo about what fun activities we were going to do for the next week. We decided that the best thing was to go white water rafting on the Nile river, the same place that we visited earlier in the week. Then on Monday, Joseph is going to drive us upcountry to see some animals. So sounds up like good times ahead!

Day 25: A new guest

So the big thing today was picking up Madame Naruka sister at the airport. So we had to take the long drive to Entebbe airport, which was an adventure in itself. We were driving through potholes after potholes, swerving in and out of traffic. I think I'm getting used to all that chaos now. So when we got to the airport we had to get passed a big security checkpoint, but we got by that trouble quick and easy, because we were in a government car :). We spent a good while at the airport, looking at all the VIPs coming out of the arrival areas with a full phalanx of guards. We noticed that although the security people had an H1N1 check station, it was just gathering dust in the corner, ha. Its funny that some people are wearing protective masks but they're always taking it off when they want to say something. So our new arrival is a real fun person, she works for the government of South Africa, a real nice lady. When we got back it was straight to work to try to finish our newsletter as quick as possible, cause we got a little presentation tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 24: At the source of the Nile

So I woke up nice and early today and got ready for the long awaited trip to the Nile basin. Our regular driver Joseph had to write exams for university studies, so we were driven on the perilous roads of the North by another driver Mr. Fred. There was definably some noteworthy craziness on that drive. First of all you need some serious skill just to navigate those highways, everyday in the newspaper theres a new story about some horrible crash and its not hard to wonder why. Between the crazy traffic, massive potholes and wayward Hippos, you really got to know what your doing. So we drove for almost two hours before reaching the Nile Source Park. Keshy tried to get us out of paying the entrance fee, but that came to no avail, it was only 4$ or something.
So the Source was a pretty interesting sight, its pretty amazing that the water here goes all the way to the Mediterranean, thats pretty cool. We were told to watch out for alligators, but I didn't see anything.
You could find a lot of shops and little huts that sold souvenirs, but I was counseled not to buy anything. After admiring the beauty of the basin for a while, we got back in the car and drove downriver, to see some rapids. Ah Madame Naidoo has got it in her head that we should be as safe as possible while we're here, so no rafting or bungee jumping today.
Seeing the huge rapids was pretty cool. The shame is that one of the local guides told us that the government is planning to build a large hydroelectric dam in the area, thereby flooding the area.
While driving back to the compound, we stopped at a roadside market in the middle of the rain-forest. Once we pulled up, we were rushed by dozens of sellers carrying their goods. It was a real struggle getting out of the car and walking around the area, but we managed to get the fresh fruit and firewood that we wanted. We all got home safe and sound.

Day 23: its hard coming up with new titles

I think today was our last official day at the Pincer offices, we did a little presentation thing and got out of there at 1pm. This newsletter is getting outrageously long, about 20 pages at last count, so I think we got to start thinking of writing a two page abstract or something. Good news is that tomorrow we head out at the crack of dawn to the source of the Nile, well one of the sources anyway :). That should be a fun trip, it will be nice to finally see the countryside. Well in the afternoon the crazy landlord swung by to look at the rickety water tower, he seems like a pretty nice guy. The problem seems to be in the welding of the platform where the massive water container stands, eventually the whole is going to get bigger and bigger till the whole thing collapses on itself. Hopefully that doesn't happen. In the afternoon, we all played cricket in the garden. I am still trying to understand what the hell the rules are, ha.
So good times to be had at the Naidoo compound.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 22: Dr. Naidoo comes home

I woke up to sounds of karate this morning, every Sunday the family's extensive backyard becomes host a local karate group. So in the morning I get a chance to meet some people and we all have a nice brunch together and then said goodbye.
The big water tower is becoming a little bit of a problem, the big thing is getting a bit rusty at the base. The bloody thing is like 5 stories tall, so I think if it ever tips over it would make one hell of a dent on the house. The hilarious thing is that everybody that works here is scarred out of their mind of the old crazy landlord. That guy was the former head of the national police or something, and I get the feeling that he did some rather unmentionable things. So it was Keshy who got on the horn with this guy and tried to speak in the softest of tones, quite funny and I think we managed to sort everything out.
Later in the day Keshy's Dad came back from Ottawa and everybody was overjoyed to see him. I think he is going to stay here for a week or so before heading back. He showed me his passports for a little bit of a laugh, hes got 5 of them all filled out. This man travels a whole lot. He's also a real nice guy. So I got to wake up nice and early tomorrow to catch a ride to the Pincer office and finish our work there, and then decide what to do with the rest of our time.

Day 21: Easy Riding

Didn't accomplish much today, I had a great time sleeping away the headaches from the night before. Their was a big storm at night that pretty much killed our plans to head out downtown. A bit of a shame. So we waited through the storm and hung out around the compound. .

Day 20: So what is it, the third Friday now?

This morning I was greeted by my old nemesis, the extremely annoying monkey bird! You know the big bird that sounds like a monkey, God I hate that thing. Well in all, it didn't matter much because the bird had a point, I had to get up and get to work. So our job today was going through numerous DVDs made by USAID-UNITY and try to write down important quotes said by the rural villagers about the benefits of the REPLICA program. After doing the work we thought satisfactory, we kind of zoned out, well its Friday after all. When we finally got back to the compound I had this killer headache, its probably because I haven't been drinking enough water, well that stuff does have a tendency to kill people down here ha. So I did the sensible thing and plastered myself with extra strong painkillers. Then I did the even more sensible thing and left home to go drinking, yay. Hitting the night scene was a sweet time, and you haven't lived until you travel across an African city on a shitty motorcycle cab, swerving constantly in between massive potholes and oncoming traffic.

Yeah, Kampala on Friday night is a pretty lively place, filled with plenty of noise, partying and working girls, ha. Keshy told me a funny story about finding one of his high school teachers and the club we passed through consorting with a couple of ladies who were clearly not his wife, ha. Not a bad way to boost your marks. The important thing is that I made it back home safe and sound, once you put the blinding fear of falling off your bike or getting robbed, you can really start to enjoy yourself here.

Day 20: So what is it, the third Friday now?

This morning I was greeted by my old nemesis, the extremely annoying monkey bird! You know the big bird that sounds like a monkey, God I hate that thing. Well in all, it didn't matter much because the bird had a point, I had to get up and get to work. So our job today was going through numerous DVDs made by USAID-UNITY and try to write down important quotes said by the rural villagers about the benefits of the REPLICA program. After doing the work we thought satisfactory, we kind of zoned out, well its Friday after all. When we finally got back to the compound I had this killer headache, its probably because I haven't been drinking enough water, well that stuff does have a tendency to kill people down here ha. So I did the sensible thing and plastered myself with extra strong painkillers. Then I did the even more sensible thing and left home to go drinking, yay. Hitting the night scene was a sweet time, and you haven't lived until you travel across an African city on a shitty motorcycle cab, swerving constantly in between massive potholes and oncoming traffic.

Yeah, Kampala on Friday night is a pretty lively place, filled with plenty of noise, partying and working girls, ha. Keshy told me a funny story about finding one of his high school teachers and the club we passed through consorting with a couple of ladies who were clearly not his wife, ha. Not a bad way to boost your marks. The important thing is that I made it back home safe and sound, once you put the blinding fear of falling off your bike or getting robbed, you can really start to enjoy yourself here.

Day 18: Stay at home

I had some good news last night, it appears that we couldn't go to work today. So we spent the day getting some well deserved rest. Yeah, not a lot happened today, I was just lying around getting a suntan, ever vigilant to the inevitable return of the destructive monkeys. They're just waiting for me to put my guard down :). The sunset today was very memorable because something quite uncommon happened. Some trickery of the light and moisture made some clouds appear multicolored, it was a very pretty thing to see. Keshy said it was called the flaming rainbow, and I quite understandably let out a little chuckle, ha flaming rainbow. Well, thats pretty much all I accomplished today, still chilling in the craziest cities I have ever visited.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 17: Yay for half days

A little bit of a scare shattered through the calm atmosphere that usually define my weekdays. While we were working in the morning, Keshy got a call from his mom and she told him that there was a security problem at the compound. That's all she said, so understandably we were pretty worried, we tried to phone the house, and there was no answer, we then called Joseph the driver. Eventually the tension winded down, it appeared that one of the security personnel at the compound fell from a ledge while picking some vegetables, and he received a noticeable gash. But the security people have their own protocol for emergencies like that, so they contacted their superiors and was promptly replaced. Its not like the family employs each guard individually, they purchase a 24 hour security service from a company. Well anyway, the whole thing was sorted out.

Well after that ordeal, we managed to do a little bit more work until Keshy's mom arrived to see the progress we've made. So we did a little bit of show and tell, and told everybody that there was not a lot of work left to due at the office and that we would benefit with a trip to the north. The good thing was that the Mom told us to pack up our things because she was taking us to lunch. However we were unsuccessful at finding an adequate restaurant close by, so we opted to get some groceries and make our own lunch back at the compound. Well we passed one restaurant, but it was full of loud tourists, ha, not our crowd :) . Hourra for half days!

Day 16: trip is halfway done

So I went to work today with a renewed sense of productivity, I'm pretty much half way done here in Uganda and I'm determined to do some quality work before I'm out of here. Remember our work consists of helping the Pincer Group deliver its quarterly reports to its employer USAID of the progress its making in the drafting of new programs to improve the quality of education in Ugandan conflict areas. Pincer group helps measure and supervise the aid given to the rural areas, there are essentially the middle men between the aid recipients and the extensive USAID bureaucracy.
So naturally, the company has a wealth of information regarding all aspects of their aid programs, and its our job to read this info and process it. Today, my assignment was going through an key component of the REPLICA program; the efforts to rectify gender disparity in the rural schools. Its an enormous challenge to keep young girls in the primary school system, retention rates are low and this is a difficult thing to prevent. The problem is cultural and economical, young girls are often married off for a financial incentive and little value is seen in continuing their education.
So I wrote up some notes and attempted to fit more information in our ever growing newsletter. Tomorrow it should all come together and I'm anxious to leave Kampala and see the country. Good times ahead,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 13: Saturday Night Fever

We were allowed to sleep in for the first time in a little while and I have to say it was a welcome change. I spent most of the morning and afternoon chilling round the house; reading, watching tv and keeping a watchful eye on trespassing monkeys. The news paper today opened with a headline that criticized the state of Kampala's infrastructure, and its not hard to see there point. The major factor that holding this capital city back from becoming a modern metropolis is the lack of any organized urban planning. The roads are marred with large potholes, and traffic jams are unavoidable. When traffic cops do patrol certain intersections, they usually contribute to larger congestions and more chaos.

After dinner, Keshy and I phoned up a known cabbie and set off for downtown Kampala. It was a smart move opting for a actually cab instead of those motorcycles, you got to try to be somewhat safe in UG. So we hit the downtown night life and we settled at this Turkish club, a popular spot for young Ugandans. It was all in all a good time and the prices were remarkably cheap, we certainly took advantage of that :) . So good times, plus I haven't been robbed yet. Yay!

A Working Monday

Well its back to our regular working routine, so I woke up at 7am and moved out to the Pincer office building. Keshy's mom gave us some pointers the day before, so our assignment today was pretty easy to figure out. So the work on the newsletter continued unabated, and we pretty much expect to be done by Wednesday. That will give us plenty of time to head upcountry to do some real physical labour, and hopefully see some Africa's signature wildlife. So after a morning of reading through reports, I devoted the rest of my time to choosing appropriate photos from the USAID database. It was a good opportunity to use the image editor that Dad installed on my travel laptop. I had to quickly verse myself in all the inner workings of the GIMP image editor, and it seemed to work. Later today,.I think one of the heads of Pincer Group came in to ask us for some help. Something about helping Uganda to develop its own branch of the United Way, and helping a young university grad in developing fund-raising opportunities. Well that's sounds interesting, but I don't know if were going to have the time. Well ts something to think about.
So were approaching the deadline, and I am pretty sure we got this in the bag. Should be good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 12 : TGIF

Today, we were treated to a shorter day at work. Our driver Joseph needed to leave early so our work day end at 3:30.The job today was primarily putting tons of information regarding the performance of 13 school districts in which the REPLICA program was initiated. So we typed and read out a lot of numbers and drew up a couple graphs. So after a little bit of number crunching we called it a day. We proceeded back to compound, and chilled out for a good while.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 10: Long Days at the office

Now we've settled into a sort of routine, every morning I wake up at 7 and get ready for work at Pincer group international. Our work for today was coming up with an appropriate design background for our newsletter. We decided to design the whole thing as "infotainment", to draw a neat comparison between our work, and the long drawn out report that would accompany it. We also began planning our own trip to do some field research in the North in an area called Gulu. Keshy's mom and some American consultants left earlier today to oversea the work done in that area, and as far as i can tell, it seemed like a routine trip. We spent the entire day in a small back room in the back of the building, as to not disturb an important meeting that was going on in the conference area. A problem arose because by the fact that we were blocked from leaving the building during our lunch break, so we had to spend a long time eagerly waiting for the meeting's conclusion.

We eventually got out and found a good local lunch spot. When we finally got back to the compound, I was to tired to do anything.

Day 7: A week done

The pattern of lazy mornings and relaxing days continues, well this is something of a holiday after all. Today we celebrated Keshy's grandmother's 83rd birthday. She is a charming old lady that lives with the family in the compound. We traveled across town to a fine Chinese restaurant, everybody is super careful in making sure nothing horrendously spicy comes my way. However, I like to think I can handle myself.
Afterwards we played some cricket in the gardens until our ball unfortunately disappeared into the deep brush. Better not risk getting bitten by God knows what by foraging around in there.

Day 9: Getting Busy

Today begins my hopefully long and distinguished career volunteering for the betterment of the Ugandan Ministry of Education. Keshy and I have been assigned to volunteer our time helping the Pincer Group, a subsidiary of the Unity Project which operates under the umbrella of the United States Agency for International Development. Its all a little bit confusing, but our job is simple; the schools in the war torn areas of Northern Uganda are in terrible shape, its up to the Pincer Group to find and implement the best strategies and teaching methods to improve the situation. They are basically a consultancy firm, and our first assignment is to draft a 12 page newsletter to accompany an extensive yearly report.
The work is long but we are glad to help in any way we can. I'm quite content that we are working in research and advocacy, one of the few disciplines in which I am actually qualified. Not only do we have to read a tall stack of bureaucratic reports, and find what information we need, but also write a paper that curtails to everyone's expectations and designs.
A/fter an interesting morning, we were treated to some local cuisine just down the road. My lunch was remarkably cheap, a mere 2 dollars for an entire meal.

Day 6: Getting Acquainted

The big event today was going downtown to meet the people Keshy and I were going to work for in the upcoming weeks. Our plan is to help the Pincer Group carry out the charitable work mandated by the Ministry of Education. We discussed at a board meeting what our plans, goals and expectations were for our time there, they seemed to be eager to have a couple of volunteers with no strings attached.
We agreed that the best thing for us to put our analytical skills to the test through data analysis and writing short summaries of the reports we read. We can then expect to travel North for some hands on experience helping with the relief of displaced people living there.
Well our work begins on Tuesday, so we have some more time to explore Kampala. We drove to various stores and shops to gather all we needed for a big barbecue or “Braii”. We then feasted in the African night, a great time to be had.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 5: Trying New Things

Its another day here in Uganda, and I think the place is starting to grow on me. We had one lazy morning, I strolled out of bed at around 11 at pick up some breakfast. First on the menu today was to pick up Keshy's mom from her office at the Ministry of Education, easier said than done. The driver took us downtown and I got my first experience of Ugandan traffic. There are little to no traffic lights, and the ones that you do find are powered by little windmills. On the major roads you find lane traffic, but with all the little motor bikes moving around it seems more like eight. Those motorcycles constantly swerve in and out of traffic, its very chaotic. Most of these motorcycles are little taxis, or “Boerwors”.

After we picked up Keshy's Mother, we stopped at a local Ethiopian restaurant. I made sure to get a mild meal, I just can't handle some of the spices here ha. I never had Ethiopian food before, you get served a large plate of thin spongy bread and a bowl of meat sauce. It was pretty good.

Later that day Keshy and I went down to the local pub, and we had to jump on a “Boerwors”. Riding for the first time was quite an experience. Keshy told me that when riding in those taxi motorcycles, you always run the risk of falling off or getting knocked down ha On a more positive note, the ride is extremely cheap, about 1 dollar.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 4 : Getting Settled

The internet is pretty weak here at the moment so i can only post text

I woke up to a rather loud noise, a large bird perched on a branch beside my window and started to sing. While I suspected to be serenaded with a beautiful melody, I was surprised when out came a great shriek. Dumb bird. We made our own breakfast today and ate on the balcony. Keshy's place has such a magnificent view, the whole city of Kampala is in view. While we were eating, something was moving in the distant brush; a very familiar pest. It was a little monkey climbing this tree. Keshy's grandmother, told us that this little monkey broke into the house two days ago and stole some fruit. The house cat then chased it away, a little work for a very lazy animal.

Our job today was to wait out the rain and run some errands downtown, were still recovering from jet-lag you see. Taking a drive downtown sounds like unnoticeable activity, but remember this is Africa! It was an insanely bumpy ride, theres little to no traffic lights in Kampala. The law of the road is simple : the right of way belongs to the biggest car. We passed through more shanty towns, some of the poverty here is quite striking. We bought some cooked corn from the street venders, they were glad for the business. The strangest thing would happen on our way home, while driving, we passed a truck filled with screaming supporters of some guy running for president at a local college. They were yelling and blocking traffic, I managed to take a picture. Funny stuff.

Day 3 Halfway there, livin on a prayer

First time ever that I woke up at 5am and actually felt well rested, thats jet lag for you. I got to say that the hotel that Emirates Air placed wasn't all bad, well for Dubai standards anyway. We then got a shuttle to the airport, and then we were amazed at the testament to capitalism that is Dubai airport terminal one, stores and duty free smokes everywhere!!! What was great that in the airplane I got a great view of that massive tower in Dubai, freaking huge! It kinda resembles a giant middle finger, pointed straight at Toronto ha.

Well we had a bit of a wait in Ethiopia, that was some view ; deserts and dilapidated airplanes. Uganda was a nice contrast, nice and green. The tarmac was flanked by tough looking bunch of bodyguard types, it seemed like the president was gonna make a landing after us.

Keshy, got in some more trouble down at Entebbe security, its funny how they try to trap Keshy into saying hes there for work. I guess the Ugandan work permit costs a lot of money, but his argument was : if Im here to work, why do I have this big Canadian guy with me? They then let him through.

Meeting Keshy's driver was fun, a cool guy named Joseph. The drive to Keshy's house was a real eye opener; my sight was filled with people living in noticeably poor conditions, Central Africa is really a different world.

Keshy's house is a bit of a lifestyle change, its quite a large place, staffed by a team of maids and other helpers. Keshy's grandma is here and cooked us a great dinner.

Should be some good times ahead.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Packing Day !

Today is the Day I leave for Africa, packing is always tough but I have been on too many trips to know the appropriate number of boxers "and other important things, i guess" that I should bring.

My partner in crime in this cross Atlantic voyage of mine is Keshy Naidoo "aka: the big boss Kesh-meister" a guy that you pray doesn't run into a Boer or anybody else that destroying his country ha. Should be a raging time at the airport, Keshy is worried about waiting forever at the airport. He's gotta know that not every airport hates brown people, cmon keshy ha.

Gonna Fly United Emirates so it should be a sweet ride, and what a great time to travel. Everyone is scarred of this Swine Flu business so I'm hoping for some good service.

Peace out and see you next time

Monday, April 6, 2009

Everything has a beginning

Rejoice my good readers for I have decided to start a blog! A move to express individuality in a most conformist sort of way. Well all I can hope is that my attempt to Blog will be successful in respect of earning me some booze money to support my university lifestyle, hooray for advertisements!

The deal is that I will do my whole hearten best to bring a little joy, knowledge and humor to any and all who venture through the blogosphere, at the cost of your precious precious time, ha. But we also got some serious stuff here too !

I have a plan to severely humble my painfully sarcastic ways with a eye opening journey to Uganda at the end of the month, thats right Dan "maybe i should have mentioned my name before, meh" is going to volunteer "wait now I'm talking in the third person, greeeat" for the Ugandan Ministry of Education, hopefully putting my astute political science brain to its best possible use.... "so I will probably carrying bags from truck to truck or something for the next couple of weeks ha". I hope to record every memorable moment of this unforgettable Odyssey so we can better understand the tough reality the children of Africa face every day and how best to help them.
Oh and to lightly ease off the heavy stuff for a while, I will be sure to add any random craziness this brain can concoct. Like Baconnaise, a god forsaken mix btw bacon and mayo, I mean what the hell is that !