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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mzungus in Mbarara

We are definitely not in Kansas anymore… Our first experience in Uganda was a helmetless motorbike ride through the crowded streets of Kampala. As we held our giant bags in front of us and our drivers zigged and zagged in and out of traffic, I noticed Nicole was laughing hysterically, partly out of fear and partly out of shear enjoyment. That is when I realized we had made it to Africa. Then, doing our best sardine impersonation, we were packed onto a bus for our 5 hour journey to the town of Mbarara. About half way through the bus ride we had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for about an hour so the bus could cool down, which was much appreciated by both me and my bladder. With the bus cool and ready to go we headed off to attack the road on our way to our final destination. To say that this was the bumpiest bus ride of my life would be a drastic understatement. We were hitting bumps on the road so fast that Nicole actually had to hang on to my pants because she was getting thrown off of her seat. At this point Nicole and I both felt that our senses had been punched in the face and all we wanted to do was get back in the ring for some more abuse. It was awesome. The traffic, the colors, the horns, the animals, the buildings, the smells and of course all the locals yelling “hey Mzungu” (which affectionately means, hey white person), we couldn’t get enough and we were pumped to finally be starting our African Adventure.

Our first week here was a week of adjustment and planning. Adjusting to the heat, the jet lag and the slow pace at which things seem to happen here and planning for our projects and getting ready to head out to the community. So, with a week under our belts and our senses almost fully recovered (it is amazing how fast you get used to something) we are loving Mbarara and still excited to be here. Our fist week was full of exploration and discovery. We have discovered that in Africa much like in most of Central and South America, people here sure like their carbohydrates. In any given meal you will be given a potato (or a potato substitute), a portion of rice along with a portion of pasta, topped off with some bread. Every meal is a “loosen the belt and undo the top button” type of meal. We also continue to realize that it is going to suck to buy produce when we go back home. The other day for 4000 shillings we bought 6 tomatoes, 6 onions, 4 carrots, 4 green peppers, 4 mangoes, 2 avocadoes and 3 cloves of garlic, keeping in mind that 4000 shillings is the equivalent of about 2 Canadian dollars. And the final thing that I discovered is that I couldn’t handle the heat and the long hair. So yesterday, despite my best intentions to grow my hair for a full year, I had to give in and get my head shaved. To my relief, there was no regret, just instant relief. In short, Africa is hot and awesome. We haven’t seen any elephants yet but I will keep my eyes open.

Keep it real,


  1. Got a hair cut eh? Damn, was hoping you'd come home looking like that guy off that movie, the one where he talks to his volley ball, Wilson! But I guess your not stranded on an island and you don't have a volley ball, just Nic...soooo, happy haircut! :)

  2. Hey Mzungu. Nice hair cut!