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Living as a Refugee

UGANDA | Tuesday, 12 February 2008 | Views [708]

The joke at the office is that the ones who are now in Kigali that was supposed to be in Nairobi are ‘refugees’. Haha.

I’ve been in Kigali for almost 2 weeks and it’s been a whirlwind! The first day at the office and within literally, FIFTEEN minutes, the following occurred:
• Introduction to everyone in the office
• Found out I’m going to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for a conference
• Asked if I wanted to go away to Kabale, Uganda for weekend….I had no idea what that was but who cares? I had barely arrived in Rwanda and now, I was already going to another new country. Hell yeah, I’ll go!
• Then…I was whisked away to go with a group to the countryside to visit farmers
• WHOA!!

Since I arrived the night before, I didn’t see squat. But driving 2 hours to the countryside, it was thrilling to see the beautiful landscape, the villages, the houses, the people. We went to visit some land right by the Tanzanian border. I got to meet the local farmers who were super friendly and very curious about seeing ‘muzungu’ or ‘foreigner’. The kids were adorable as they hammed it up for our cameras. Check out the pictures.

The next day, I was actually in the office, learning about all I had to do in the next few weeks. It was quite overwhelming! I don’t think I’d been in this kind of working environment, like ever. The week was over as Friday was a holiday ☺ Not bad -- after 1 full day in the office, I get to go off on a weekend getaway already!

Kabale was a few hours across the border which entailed a taxi to the bus station, a ‘matatu’ or ‘public mini-van’ to the border; then a taxi to a dock; and then a motor boat ride to the island. The island?! We were staying in rustic cottages on an island in the middle of Lake Bunyoni. It is exceptionally spectacular and after seeing how my pictures turned out, extremely photogenic. The water is incredibly clear. So much so, that the water would reflect images of the landscape.

The food on the island was pretty good but since supplies were reliant on transport from the mainland, there was always some ingredient missing for the meal.

I hadn’t gone camping in awhile and we were a bit ill-equipped. We fumbled in the dark without flashlights trying to get back to our cottage. We did have playing cards though. One night we played Cheat which is a version of BS and quite fun. The kicker is that you don’t have to go around the circle in order; you can put the same card, 1 up or 1 down. Our group was notorious for cheating and no one could win after several hours.

Saturday night, we took 2 dugout canoes and paddled our way to the shore. A guide took us for a hike through various hills. It was a beautiful, pleasant day. Children from all the villages would come running up to us, screaming ‘How are YOU?!’. It was fun seeing the fascination on their faces. One of our teacher friends in the group taught a group of kids ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ song. That was quite fun to watch.

By mid-day we were back on the island and after lunch, I lounged by this dock with this AMAZING view. I didn’t dare jump into the lake because who knows what’s in there, ready to bite or borough into you?!

After an alcohol-filled night, playing ‘Psychiatrist’ and ‘I Never Ever…’, I spent the next morning, trying to navigate a canoe. It was quite a struggle but we finally managed to get to Punishment Island. It’s a tiny, desolate island with one, singular tree. In the past, single pregnant women would be cast-off to this island. How torturous!

All in all, it was a great weekend, especially being the first weekend in Africa! I can’t wait to see what other adventures await!

Tags: The Great Outdoors

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