Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 6: Addis-->Entebbe-->Hoima

Woke up at 6ish again but fell back asleep until alarm went off at 7.

No shower. Got ready and packed up. Set out for bakery alone this time. One man in front of me - and one that cut in front of me.  Managed to get point across that I wanted two bread rolls. Cashier waived me away to go get bread without ticket. Knew that wasn't right, but line was to the door now! Walked over to area where you pick up. No, no bread without ticket (receipt) Ugh. I knew that, but she didn't give me one. No way was I waiting in that line. Walked right up to her, pointed at the receipts am said TICKET! She got it. And I finally got my rolls!

Walked back and started making pb&j for both of us. Managed to cut my finger with the knife. Awesome. Sophie came down to kitchen and was excited to have one more pb&j before I left!

Alex showed up early, and I felt bad making him wait. Checked email quickly, brushed teeth, and grabbed bags. Out the door right around 8am. Airport is nearby. Maybe 10 minute drive, max. Terminal 1 is for domestic flights, terminal 2 international. I just happened to be looking T the signs and saw terminal 1 said domestic AND ... Some other cities not in Ethiopia. Entebbe was one of them. We had already passed the exit, and Alex was just sure it was terminal 2 for international. "Here. You just try here?". Ummm, no I will not try here. And have you drop me off at the wrong terminal with no way of getting back to the other one. I can't carry the giant blue tub! So I talked him in to going back. 

And I was right. Entebbe was terminal 1. Not international terminal, which actually played in to my favor. Big time. The terminal was dead. One other person in security line in front of me. Domestic terminal is waaaaay more laid back. No rules / restrictions. They just don't care. Way different in intl terminal! I put my blue tub up on the scale. 39 kg. however much that is. It was heavy! And they didn't even look twice! Hardly looked at my passport. Just stamped I and waived me through. Free wifi in the lobby area outside the gates. They don't even have that at intl terminal! Oh - left Sophie's at 8 and was sitting down in lobby before 8:30. Dang it. Why did I leave so early?! You just never know how long stuff is going to take. And it would have taken a lot longer at the intl terminal. 

Plenty of time to sit around and check emails. It was middle of the night KS time, so no one to iMessage or Skype with! Got on Facebook to pass time...

Finally went through security again to get to my gate. They don't look at anything. Could even bring water or whatever in! Watched my blue tub go on the airplane. Pretty happy about that!

Walked out on tarmac and up stairs to plane. I was the first seat inside the door. No overhead bin at all. My giant backpack didn't fit up there anyways. Had to take it up to first class to shove it in! Barely fit. It's really stuffed this time. Must not of packed as well!

Two hour flight in to Entebbe, Uganda. They fed us some spicy meat sauce over pasta that I choked most of down. Chugged lots of water, too, since I gave all my birr to Alex and didnt save any to buy water at the airport.  Not smart on my lart! 

Dirt is very dark red here in uganda.  Entebbe is on Lake Victoria. Very green and almost tropical. Looks nice from the air anyways!

Walked down stairs and across tarmac again. So SO hot here!! Much hotter than Addis. Grabbed an immigration form and waited in the giant line.  Team of 50 from Dallas just got there right before us in line for visa. Security guy waived me and a few others over in to other line - non visa purchasing line. I figured he knew what he was doing.

In line behind older couple from Oklahoma who lives in Kampala doing mission work...for church of latter day saints. Nice enough and we talked for awhile. But when that turned in to him telling me about how big and awesome there church is, and how I should vote for Romney because he is part of their group and doesn't lie and is such a great guy... I couldn't take it anymore. I have no problem sharing your faith, but don't turn it political. He was just annoying and I didn't want to hear it anymore, so I just said I had to go to the bathroom and cut in front of everyone (not that many people by that point) to go get my visa. Yea, I was that girl. But I really did have to pee!!

$50 for a visa for Uganda. Dang! And they fingerprint you! Didnt take long - since I cut the line :) - and I was at baggage claim. Found a cart right away, and saw my blue tub! Yes! I always get so excited when my checked luggage actually shows up!

I couldn't find my baggage claim ticket and they check them here - and Ethiopia. I had to argue wih the security guy for awhile, showed him my boarding pass that matched the name on the tub, etc. He finally let me through, and said  he was doing me a favor, ha. I found it later...stapled to my itinerary I handed he girl at the airport. Oh well...

Exchanged money. Turns you get a much worse rate for "small bills" and any bill over 10 years old. Not sure why, but I had a huge stack of $20 bills, and thy consider those "small.". Wish I would have known that! The only bills I got the better exchange rate for were a $100 (my other $100 was from 1996) and a $50.  It was something like 2,400 schillings for $1. Only got 2,100 for all my other money. I got screwed!

As soon as I walked out of baggage claim, I saw a cute little African girl with a Think Humanity shirt on! It was Sarah! She didn't know what I looked like, but when I started walking towards her and waived, she got so excited and ran up to me laughing and gave me a big hug! Such a nice welcoming to Uganda! :)

We walked through another set of doors and Jonas was standing there with a huge smile. They both have the best smiles! 
Jonas and Sarah at the Entebbe airport

We hopped in a cab and took off for Kampala. Did I mention how HOT it is here?! I don't know how they all take it. I was dying. Sweating profusely. The sun is just so much stronger here! And the cab driver either wouldn't or couldn't roll my window down. It might of been broken. The car wasn't in the best shape, and the back tire rubbed on the car the whole time, ha. He really wasn't an awful driver though. Only had one near death experience on the way when another truck pulling a can eeked out on to the hiway in front of us and we had to slam on the brakes and to the other lane of traffic where another truck was coming. I probably should be glad I was in the back seat and couldn't really see any other close calls. Oh, and the driver had his window down, so that kept me from getting sick. 

Entebbe and Kampala are very green - minus the red dirt. It looked so much different from Addis. Not ALL of the cars were spewing black exhaust - only like half of them. And there were actually paved roads with lines on them and traffic signals/signs that people obeyed! Not near as crazy here as in Ethiopia. 

Took about an hour to reach the downtown-ish area at Kampala. Oh so THIS is more like Addis now! Dirty and packed, awful roads, etc. Took us awhile to find the bus stop for Hoima. Had to ask a couple of times, and once we were close, Jonas and Sarah decided they needed to eat. They left Hoima at 5am this morning and hadnt eaten anything since then. (3pm now) We went to some hotel and they ordered. I wasnt that hungry and did NOT want to get sick on the bus, so I had the pb&j I made yesterday and some fruit snacks. Good enough for me. 

The bus was supposed to leave at 4 so we got there just a little before. I asked Sarah what the "bus" was like, and she said something about big bus and little bus. I stopped here right there. I was all, "Oh big bus? Yea, big bus! Yes! Yes, please! We find big bus!" :) And we did. I saw the little ones - like minivan kind of things packed to capacity. I'm not sure I could of stomached it. We pulled in to a big bus yard with BIG buses. Like big greyhound buses, but not really anything like those, ha. I mean, it is still Africa! They looked alright on the inside, but they were falling apart. It was only about half full when we got on, and thank goodness we found one open spot by a window almost in the very back. I'll take sitting in the back for a window any day!  Not sure how many times I got called muzungu (white person).  Didn't see one other white person the whole time in Kampala!

4 turned in to 4:30 and then to 5. Still sitting there, and still shoving more and more people on. Come on. People aren't really going to stand for 4 hours, are they?! And stand on top of bags and stuff on the floor? Yes, the sure did. We finally left Kampala at 5:30, and I already had to pee. I just kept my head out the window and tried not to think about it. 

The trip started out not so bad. I mean, I had my window down, it was nice out, we were driving through little towns... But then we hit he country side. That's when it got scary. We were flying. Like, literally flying down a little road. I'm not even sure if it was paved or not.  All I could see was everything whizzing by me out my window, and it was dirt at least on the side of the road. He would honk his crazy little horn and swerve the other way and we passed everything from people to cars to tricks. Flew by them all, ha. I'm all for fast and exciting, but let's just say I'm glad I couldn't see out the front to what we were heading for. At one point, I literally got air when we hit a bump so fast. No exaggeration. I looked at Sarah with wide eyes and said, "Whoa!!" She didn't even notice, ha! 

It eventually started raining, and I had to shut my window. That made me very nervous. I don't want to be mean, but the bus packed with that many people on it smelled pretty awful! Lucky for me, my window was broken, and I couldnt quite shut it all be way! It was open just enough for a little fresh air. Thank goodness. :)

So this continued, with some guy blaring on the loud speaker, for FOUR HOURS.  I had to pee five and a half hours ago! I honestly don't know how I made it. As soon as we pulled into Hoima (at 9:30pm), Sarah took me straight to the bathroom - hole in the ground out back, which I'm totally fine with. I felt like I could breathe again! I had hardly moved for a loooong time. No food or drink for fear it would stretch my poor bladder even more. ;)

All in all, the bus trip wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was just sure we would be packed in to one of those small buses, and that would have been awful. The only thing sore was my butt from sitting so long and my neck from  craining it out the window. I didn't even get motion sick at all!

So anyways, when we got off and got my big blue tub from underneath, there were just a bunch of "boda-boda" there (motorcycles).  All trying to talk us in to getting on with them. Ha, yea right. Not with all my stuff! We were standing there, Jonas was talking with them, and I figured we were waiting for a cab or car or something. Until one of the boda-boda drivers picked up my blue tub - the thin is big and heavy - and sat it on his seat behind him and strapped it on. Ummmm, are you serious!? Then Jonas pointed to another one and said, you sit there. With my giant backpack on.  Ha, I couldn't believe it. But Jonas and Sarah hopped on a third and off we went down the dirt roads through Hoima. I was loving it, of course. Perfect ending to a looooong day. A little exciting motorcycle ride! I even took a short video clip on my phone. We were in the lead, and I was just praying jonas and Sarah were following somewhere behind me...

We pulled off a main road, and went down a hill on a little dirt road through some brush. Then he turned on a little footpath, with crevices and rocks and going straight up, and said, "You just hold on to me." Oooh my. That was almost on the same level as the bus, ha. Exciting, but probably glad it was dark and I couldnt see what we were actually driving up. :)

We turned one more time down what was probably the size of a sidewalk with branches and trees over it, and pulled up to a gate. The guard opened it, and there we were -- finally at the ThinkHumanity Girls Hostel!

Jonas took my stuff to a room, and gave me a super quick tour. It's a pretty small area. Just a couple of lime green buildings, surrounded by a cement wall with broken glass bottles on top for safety. Pretty sure no one is going to be  climbing over that!

One long building has 5 rooms.  Four of the rooms have like 7 or 8 (beds bunk beds) in them, all covered with mosquito nets. Each girl has a bed and a basin under it for washing, and her personal stuff, which is kept in a bag or trunk or suitcase on the bed. They don't have much. The last room is for the cook / guard. 

The next building has Jonas' office, Sarah's room (two rooms where we slept), and the third room had beds in it for the girls. 

Third building consisted of one large room the girls use for studying, and a smaller room where the library will be when they get a bookshelf. Right now, it is filled with the plants they are weaving the baskets from!

The fourth building houses the House mom - madam Christine, and her little girl who is in 2nd grade. There is a little water spigot with a large wire rack that holds all the plastic cups and bowls they use to eat with. Bathrooms are out back, behind the main rooms the girls stay in. Three "toilets" - or little cement rooms with a hole in the ground and a wooden door. And let me tell you, the hole is small! I've already missed it. :) The "shower" is an open area with a cement floor and a little drain. I asked Sarah where the water came from. She laughed and said you bring it in the basin! (What?? How does that work? Guess I'll find out in the morning!)

It's a far cry from Sophie's house in Addis, but for Uganda,  these girls are well off! Beds, meals, running water, electricity, etc. I'm going to be just fine here for the next few days! :)

All the girls were sitting on the floor, hunched over studying when I got there. (I can't wait until they have tables to sit at!) They all scurried and grabbed their things and stood at attention when they saw me. 

Jonas brought me to the front of the room, and there were 30 sets of large brown eyes staring back at me. You could tell they were excited. (Sarah said they had been asking for days when I would arrive.) He asked if any of them knew my name, and I'm pretty sure every single one of them shot their hands straight up! He called on one, and she shyly said "Terri." Ha - it was all just surreal. Standing in front of a bunch of girls from a refugee camp who have been waiting for me?! Pretty cool... :)

They each stepped forward one by one and introduced themselves. Just name, what school they attend, and what grade they are in. Most of them knelt down, too, and said, "You are most welcome." Holy cow, they are sweet and grateful little things! I recognized my girl, Immaculate, and Matts's girl, Clementine. Everyone giggled when they told up to talk. They all know we sponsor them. :)

I just said a couple things quickly, and then they sang for me. They have beautiful voices! I recorded a couple of the songs. They've got harmony down pat! One song is about ThinkHumanity. I'm sure Beth has heard it, but I think she'll love the video!

It was late by that point, and we were all exhausted from traveling all day.  We had to go to bed. Jonas asked the girls of they were tired and of course they all vigorously shook their heads no! But we were. Party over!

Sarah took me in to her room and told me to sleep in her bed. She would sleep on the floor in the other room. With no pillow or mosquito net. I felt awful, but she insisted. 

I splashed some water on my face, changes clothes, and crawled in bed. It was so HOT still! But after traveling all day, I don't think anything could of kept me awake...

Will write more tomorrow...


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