|Hey all once again!
I will try and keep this entry relatively short, I was mid-entry just before and the power went out, so I figure I won't be tempting fate if I'm on here briefly.
Thanks to everyone for your messages and support, they gave me much laughter and smiles over here :)
There is simply waaaay too much that has happened in the past week for me to write it to you all in this entry, but I've got it written down in another diary (thanks Gabby, Pam and Lars-Erik!) so I will add more as time goes on. I've taken a few pictures so far, but I have to be careful taking alot of photos in town, you will be marked as a tourist the instant you whip it out. I'll try to add some to this one, and I shall add more with each entry. Anyway, about what I've been up to over here:
I arrived at Entebbe International Airport in the wee hours of Wednesday morning (almost 12.01am exactly), and had a bit of a scare within the first few minutes in the country! The OGLM (Organisation for Good Life of the Marginalised, a group World Youth International started partnering with this year) staff thought that the name of the volunteer arriving from Australia was James, and I thought that the name of the person picking me up from the airport was Chris. In actual fact, Joseph was picking me up, and my name happened to be Jack. After a sliiight panic attack at the idea of being in a foreign country with NO clue, Joseph remembered that there had also been talk of another volunteer called Jack, and fortunately we were able to figure out who the other one was before I fled into the night.
Once we met, I was driven back to the hotel I was staying at for my orientation, and found out a few interesting things about Ugandan roads:
1. Don't crash.
2. Avoid potholes, even if it means going off road occasionally
3. Refer to 1 or 2 if you feel lost
Most of the cars on the road here are all Japanese, and the 'new' cars sold are old ones that have been reconditioned. It's not uncommon to see (particularly going up hills) trucks that have given up the attempt to climb a slope.
We arrived at the hotel after going through the capital, Kampala, and continuing on to Jinja, which is where my host family, as well as The Aids Support Organisation (or TASO, who I will be working with over the next few months) are. If you really need something to turn on when you want it to, battery power is the way to go, as the growing population has put alot of strain on the power plants, so blackouts aren't all that unusual. It was eerie driving through a capital city where there were little to no lights on at all, even if it was around 2.30 in the morning by then.
*RIP interweb connection*
I've been desperately trying to remember the locations of where everything is in the town, but don't worry if you find yourself lost! The transport here comes in 3 main forms: Boda Bodas, which are pretty much modified little motorbikes that have a cushioned area for you to rest your buns while being taken to wherever you wish, (with a seat designed for 1, although they can hold up to 5), as long as the driver can understand your accent (turns out I *DO* have one!). Another way is Matatu (not entirely sure of spilling, I'll be getting a book on the local language, Lasoga, so hopefully I'll be able to speak a little in a few weeks), which are modified vans, with enough seats inside for 15 (although they hold up to 20 I've found). They leave from certain places in Jinja, although if you need a lift you can flag them down as well. Lastly, there are bicycle riders, that have a similar setup to Boda Bodas, only they have to work much harder to earn the 500\- fare (Ugandan shillings, which works out to be about 30c AUD). I haven't got any photos of them yet, but I should have some for the next entry I put up.
Before I left Australia I was in a shop, one of the guys who found out where I was going kept telling me that I was going to stick out. He also continually called me "boy", which annoyed me, being such a manly man and all. He wasn't wrong though, there are very few white people here at all, and the locals have a name for us, Mzungu (pronounced moozungoo), which pretty much means rich person. Everywhere I go the kids always call out "Hello Mzungu! How are you?". It's been extremely strange being the odd one out, and getting stared at all the time is still unsettling me, but hopefully I'll get used to it in time.
Alot of the buildings here are old and beginning to fall apart, with most of the ones that aren't left unfinished. I wish that I could write and show you guys more about what it is like over here, but that's what photos are for I guess! Although in this case it's quicker for me to write a thousand words than it is for me to upload a photo.... *shudder*. I've put a few on here anyway, more will be to follow later, so enjoy, share, dont print out and deface (please), etc.
Hope you are all taking care of each other back in Australia!