Fractal’s folks came to visit us in Uganda on Dec 21.  We picked them up from the airport in Entebbe and made a slow trip through Kampala back to site.  Crazy traffic! The 3-hour journey took about 4.5 hours.

They stayed on the other side (in the guest house part) of our paper thin wall of our house.  They had a flushing toilet on the other side so they didn’t have to use the pit latrine.  The estate manager took it upon himself to get students to clean the guest house, wash the sheets, and slash our already small compound before my in-laws arrived.  Erik made beans for dinner but no one was hungry.  Ethiopian Airlines had fed my in-laws well.  Fractal & I had the sandwiches we bought for them.  We were well equipped with papaya, bananas, and pineapples.  We spend the next day relaxing and my in-laws tried winding down from their 30-hour journey.  We ate Fractal’s beans & pineapple.  Lots of Christmas cookies & other goodies that were brought.  It felt like Christmas.  I was thrilled to get make-up, nice shirts (wearing old shirts & 2nd hand clothes gets old) and lotions from home.  Fractal & I were excited about the small Christmas tree that my in-laws brought for us.

The next couple of days my in-laws met our counterparts, supervisors, went around campus, saw Fractal’s NGO, visited our town, met Nkunda (our cat) & Peace (our duck–even saw her fly).  They even wished they had more time at our site.  My counterpart, Mr. Wambi who’s also an educator like my mother-in-law, enjoyed the long conversations with her.

I made a travel itinerary for them.  I planned for all of us to spend Christmas Eve in Jinja seeing the source of the Nile & the night in Mabira Forest.  There was a change of plans because Fractal’s backpack was stolen from the car we hired for the travel.  The driver stepped out to grab some quick lunch and he returned to the car.  When we got back from lunch, I asked the driver where the backpack was and he said Fractal must have got the backpack out when he came to get something.  Our driver was in disbelief that something would be stolen in such a short time and under his eye.  He looked crushed.  Both Fractal & I couldn’t believe it.  Another theft.  After the major one in May, we just couldn’t believe it would happen again.  We went back to site to get some clothes for Fractal.

We went to Wakiso the next day, Christmas Day.  It was really nice to spend Christmas with host and Fractal’s folks.  My in-laws enjoyed meeting our host family.  Our host sister, her husband, and baby came from Kampala to see us in Wakiso.  Our host mom made delectable food & the best watermelon/tangerine/pineapple juice. It was awesome!

The day after Christmas we went to a crafts village in Kampala.  We had lunch at Cafe Javas & my in-laws met our good friend, Maria.  Good times.  Delicious food.  Maria who complained to us about her Uganda knife was super excited about the knife we gave her.  Fractal’s mom baked some limpa–traditional Swedish rye bread–and Maria was thrilled (even though she isn’t Swedish, the Dane in her loved it) to have some.  The time we spend we Maria wasn’t long enough. We had to stop by the Surgery.  I had a toe nail injury that was infected (I kicked a rock the night we returned from Jinja after the theft) and needed some treatment. All good things come to an end and we said good bye to Maria after lunch, got my toe treated (got 2 painful ladacaine shots on my toe) and went back to the hotel.

We spend the night in bandas at the Ugandan Wildlife Center in Entebbe.  The next day we went to Ngamba Island.  We had to bargain for a discount.  It was an expensive trip but it was totally worth it.  The chimpanzees make it worthwhile.  We saw so many of them on the island.  Saw many birds–spur-winged lapwing, thick-knee, common sandpiper.  Saw two monitor lizards.  It was fantastic though we were about to give up going at the beginning because of the price.

We spend the rest of the day at the Uganda Wildlife Center.  It’s such a great facility.  I love the exhibits.  Much smaller version of Zoo Atlanta.  I miss it so much.  Saw lions, white rhinos, elands, bush buck, patas monkey, red-tailed monkeys, Crested Cranes, river otters, fish eagles, shoe bill, African rock python, and other interesting animals.  I was sad to leave the Center in the morning.

We run some errands in town (needed to get some things after it was stolen for the 2nd time) and stop by Peace Corps to get some medication (our medical kit was stolen).

We set off on a 7 night/ 8 day safari to Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Kibale National Park.  We saw lots of animals–saw a lioness hunt a kob with her 2 cubs,  countless kobs, oribi, vervet monkeys, reedbuck, Jackson’s hartebeast, Patas Monkeys, elephants, warthogs, zebras, topis, impalas, and other incredible animals.  I wanted more time with the animals.  No amount of time is enough with these splendid animals.  Wouldn’t it be cool to become a veterinary pharmacist.  Work with chimpanzees.  I wish I had some time in the forest just to be with chimpanzees.  I went chimp tracking in Queen Elizabeth back in early Dec.  During our forest walk in Budongo Forest, we heard their pant-hoots nearby; we went on another forest walk in Kibale but all these forest walks makes me want more time in the forest.  I feel the time spend in the forest was just a little slice and I want more.  I really wanted to get lost in the forest.

We returned from the safari a day before my in-laws had to leave the country.  We went back to the Minister’s Hotel in Ntinda, where we stayed the night before we set off on the safari & Christmas night.  My in-laws had a lot of packing to do.

After breakfast the next day we set off to the airport around 11a.m.  We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Entebbe before we arrived at the airport.  It’s crazy how time flies.  It was already Jan 6! Since we weren’t allowed in the check-in area we said our good-byes to Fractal’s folks.  We weren’t even allowed to stay outside to wave them goodbye.  Two security guards kept telling us to leave because Al-Shabab could target people who were waiting outside the check-in area.  Security was tight in Entebbe after someone tried to hijack a Turkish aircraft.  It was sad to say goodbye; at the same time, I can’t believe that we’ll be making a similar journey 3.5 months from now.

2011.  Time for new resolutions & journeys.  I applied to take summer classes when I get back in April.  It’s amazing how the prerequisite requirements vary from one pharmacy school to another.  Mercer requires one more course  than UGA.  Out-of-state school required 3-4 additional courses.  Life’s full of uncertainties.  At the same time, I can’t wait to get back & start a new adventure.  Can’t wait to be a student again…

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