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A Year Without Ice Cubes One year through Africa and Asia

Done with Uganda, going to Ethiopia

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 4 March 2009 | Views [1321] | Comments [8]

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know it’s been over a month since I posted on my blog, but now I’m back and here to fill you in on what I’ve been up to.  A thousand apologies…


Well, obviously we left Kenya because our 3-month visa expired and it was time to move on and continue our travels.  I had mixed feelings about leaving Eldoret, I was really sad to leave the kids at the Sally Test Center and the Kenyan friends I’d made, but I was ready to get back on the road and have some new experiences, etc., etc.  I’d gotten into a very lazy routine in Eldoret (which partly explains why I never blogged) that consisted of sleeping in, going to Sally Test for a few hours, and eating lots of African food.  I think I gained about 10 pounds in Kenya, I haven’t actually stepped on a scale but boy are my pants tight.  Who’d have thunk I’d actually gain weight in Africa?  So we left Eldoret on a bus heading for Uganda, crossed the border, and arrived in Mukono, the town outside Kampala where Lucy is in law school.  Lucy’s school has a gorgeous campus (palm trees, banana trees, manicured grass), and it felt very familiar to be back in a university setting. 


We spent a few nights with Lucy before heading to Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, one of the only places in the world where you can see mountain gorillas.  And that’s what we did, we paid a pretty penny to trek in a group with 6 other tourists and almost as many guides through the impenetrable forest to hang out with a habituated group of gorillas for an hour.  It’s advertised as one of the most extreme wildlife encounters in the world, and it was pretty incredible.  I mean, the silverback was less than 4 feet away from me, just eating leaves and doing his thing.  Besides the gorillas, the scenery was amazing, and the next day Michelle and I organized a walking/canoeing trek with a guide, Benson, who also served as the cook at the campsite we were staying at.  The trek was gorgeous and we were greeted with shouts of “MzUUUUUUngu!” from kids across whole valleys.  Honestly, it’s unique and amusing to be treated like a celebrity, but as I prepare to leave East Africa I’m hoping that I’ll be able to be a little more anonymous during the rest of my travels.  I think I just got tired of being the mzungu, a big shot just because of my skin color, constantly stared at and hollered at…although the excited kids are still adorable, and it’s still pretty sweet to bring a big smile to a kid’s face just by waving at them.


But I digress.  We left Bwindi and went back to Mukono for a day before heading down to Mbale, a town right near the Ugandan border with Kenya.  We originally planned to go to Mbale to work on a coffee farm with some coffee farmers that Michelle had met in DC while they were touring the US promoting their fair-trade multi-faith coffee co-op.  Unfortunately, we had some miscommunication issues with the woman Michelle had been in touch with and we were planning on staying with.  Also (and we only learned this once we arrived in Mbale), it wasn’t coffee harvesting season.  But fortune shined down on us in the form of Lucy’s friend from school, Emanuel.  Emanuel, or Emma, is a wonderfully flamboyant student (think the Ugandan equivalent of Dan Beck, for those of you who know Dan Beck.  Hi Dan Beck, I miss you!) who had earlier taken us around Kampala and got us invited to a Ugandan wedding.  Emma’s family has a house in Mbale, so since we were stranded without any coffee farmers he arranged for us to stay at his family home along with a few cousins who were already there. Emma traveled to Mbale to meet us the next day, and we spent the weekend meeting his family, visiting ancestral villages, drinking the local brew, and being called mzungu by village kids.  We also finally were able to meet up with Michelle’s coffee farmer friends, who showed us their coffee farms while lamenting the fact that we hadn’t arranged to stay with them.  Oh well, you can’t please everyone, especially those who you can’t communicate well with.


We traveled back to Mukono, spent a day in Kampala visiting a school for special needs children where Emma had done an internship (what a great experience, the school was extremely well run and the kids seemed so happy, it was very rewarding for me to spend time with them in such an encouraging setting), and now we are preparing to leave for Ethiopia tomorrow, our last stop in Africa before heading to a whole other continent.


That’s it for now, I promise I’ll try to update this blog more frequently, and hopefully you lovely people (whoever you are) will keep on reading it…



Welcome back! Love you.

  Sylvia mom Mar 5, 2009 12:31 AM


So good to catch up again on your travels (and it seems very few tribulations!) How do you pronounce "mzungu"?? Hope you took some pics of those famous gorillas(that silver back must have been a gorgeous fellow). Had brunch with Louise (and met her boyfriend..REALLY great guy)a few weeks ago when they were in Boston. I continue to be amazed at what you are doing and your insight on it all..(and hey ---you should be able to take a break from the reporting once in awhile,,,but glad to see you back! A hug, Aunt Lynn

  Aunt Lynn Mar 5, 2009 12:46 AM


So nice to have you back! Missed reading about your adventures. The Kogelo videos were great. Stay safe, and let me know of your India plans. -Uncle Larry

  Uncle Larry Mar 5, 2009 6:35 AM


Good to hear from you! I missed reading your blog! Am anxious to hear your descriptions of Ethiopia. T was living in an orphange in Addis Ababa when we found him. The orphange was run by the nuns affiliated with Mother Teresa - I'll look at his records and see it I have the name of it.

  Andi Mar 5, 2009 9:23 AM


Thanks Mom, Aunt Lynn, Uncle Larry,and Aunt Andi! I've decided to try commenting on the comments rather than occasionally remembering to email you fine folks. Mom, love you too, Aunt Lynn, it's [muh-ZOON-goo] and yes i have tons of photos just lacking fast internet, Uncle Larry I'll definitely let you know about India (when i get a chance i'll email you our basic itinerary), and Aunt Andi, that would be great if you can find the name of T's orphanage, we're flying into Addis Ababa and maybe if we get a chance we can visit it and take some photos. And i'll be sure to keep a detailed journal for T about the country! Love you all, thanks for your comments!

  sylvia_aiko Mar 5, 2009 8:35 PM


YEAH!~ I am so glad you are back..more importantly, still having fun and great experiences.. I agree you should get breaks here and there from the chore of blogging....but, I am glad you are back. I really enjoy your writings and your honest thoughts and insights.. :-)
Ethiopia...While in Memphis I taught with a young woman about your age, from Ethiopia..I do not remember what part of the country unfortunately. We keep in touch...Haweni, now in Atlanta. She talks about the country and had relatives visiting Atlanta from Ethiopia..for her wedding. ...really neat person. She talked a lot about the Fair Trade issues with the coffee of Ethiopia. ..and the urban nature of her homeland. Enjoy....
enjoy everything. I love the food I have had. Take care of yourself ..and thank you so much for sharing. Gail

  gail Mar 6, 2009 9:56 AM


Hi Sylvia, I am looking through the records we have on T and the orphanage is always referenced as Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity organization. It is believed that T was originally from Debre-Zeit. His last name was Geremew (also spelled Garamu). His father died and he does not know what happened to his mom. He remembers having sibs. T is short for Tamirat which means "Miracle Child" in Amharic. He will love to hear your stories and see your photos. Thanks!

  Andi Mar 6, 2009 2:59 PM


Hello Sunshine,
We're still following your journey and checking your site almost daily for your new entry.

  Zen House Mar 6, 2009 4:19 PM



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