Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Marching Bands, Long Waits, But At Least I Finally Got Rain!

My Monday morning started early... even by my standards it was too early. Lately Jinja has been uncomfortably hot - especially overnight. There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning (if one is luck enough to fall asleep in the first place!) to be met with panic, because you can't figure out how a bucket of water could have been dumped on you overnight without your knowing, only to be comforted by the knowledge that, no, in fact, it's just sweat! You are all welcome for that delightful image.

Anyway, I departed Jinja just after 7AM enroute for Entebbe airport. I was surprised by how quickly we made it to Kampala, given that it was a Monday morning. But, I was equally surprised when, just outside of the city, we had to stop to allow a group of youths in a marching band parade down the street in protest of better healthcare and education for young people! I was also surprised when just a few kilometres away from Entebbe Airport our vehicle was struck from behind by a taxi*. However, the biggest surprise of all was that usually this trek would usually have me land at the airport around noon. But not on this day. No. On this day we made it in record time - arriving at 10:30AM - also known as SEVERN HOURS EARLY!!! This ended up being almost 9 hours early, because my flight was delayed by almost 2 hours, making the window seat** I'd booked to enjoy/film takeoff pointless as it was quite dark. But all was not lost - there was a pretty sweet lightening storm in the distance!

The long wait in Entebbe meant a shorter one in Nairobi. And it was even better when we boarded and were able to take off a few minutes ahead of schedule for my final leg of the trek. Somehow on my 8-ish hour flight, I managed to snag about 4 hours sleep. This, my friends, is a record for me. On flights that are 10+, I may have only taken in an hour or two of shut eye, so I was thrilled by this accomplishment, because the next day was going to be jam packed... and long.

Where to? The Netherlands. First stop, The Hague for a little bucket list checking/adventuring, and the remainder of my week outside of Uganda soaking up the smells, sights, and girls of Amsterdam the cooler temperatures and doing a little business. I'll let you in on the second half of this trip in a later post, because right now I want to focus on the "for fun" portion!

Many of you know, from following my adventures, that I have been to Amsterdam previously on a tourism adventure and loved the city. But I did't give myself enough time to visit The Hague. Ever since, I have been itching to come back to The Netherlands so that I can tick off a pretty big item off of my bucket list - Madurodam.

So, I arrived mega early for check in. My flight arrived just after 7AM and I made it to The Hague just before 9. My the time I reached the hotel, it wasn't even 10, so I was "politely" told to come back after 3PM. So I did. But thankfully I was able to drop my backpack before I set off for the day.

I started by grabbing a cup of coffee along the water. Oh yeah, it turns out my hotel is right on the beach***! So I took in the sounds of the waves crashing while enjoying a decent cup of joe, and glancing at the list of possibilities for how to spend my 30 hours in The Hague. And before too long I was on my way.

The promenade in The Hague. This was taken across the street from where I'm staying. 
I will say this, walking in Europe is much more difficult than in Canada, and I always forget this fact until I'm hobbling down cobblestone walkways for 4-5 hours. It's hard on the knees, man! But it's also worth it - you don't get architecture like that in my home-province, that's for sure!

On my way to Madurodam! Beautiful buildings, and a beautiful sun rise/coming out!
On my way to Madurodam, I decided to take a slight detour and do something you just have to do when you're in this city - walk the road of flags just outside of the United Nations building. Surprisingly****, this was an overwhelming experience. Given my personal sentiments towards this international body, I was surprised by how excited I felt to be there. I was also quite taken back when seeing the Canadian flag dancing in the wind! It made me feel a sense of pride that had been lost - not that it erased those concerns, but in that moment I felt proud to see my flag waving freely. And, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't feel the same way when I walked ALL the way down to the opposite end to see Ghana's along the way to viewing the Ugandan flag. What a crazy sense of place I have been developing over the last several years!

Snapping a shot as I crossed the road - just a few of the flags along this street. 
Uganda's flag!
The Canadian flag (amongst others!) with the UN Building in the background.
When you want to take a selfie, but you feel super self-conscious/worried
you're going to get in trouble, but then your stupid flag won't cooperate
even though you're cutting half your face out of the picture so you can fit it
in and give it the respect it deserves. Also - that's the UN Building!
I eventually turned back, and made my way towards Madurodam, Along the way I helped someone with directions (not bad for only being in the city for maybe 2 hours! haha) and stumbled upon a beautiful pond/lake-y thing with a thought provoking Holocaust/War Memorial. You know, I sometimes think we often forget about the countries outside of Germany that were terrorized by this historical event! And also, why do I keep ending up in places where the Holocaust was present?! It's really difficult to process - in fact, I'm still trying to piece together my time at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, and the day trip to TerezĂ­n in the Czech Republic.

A selfie for all the Ugandan-Nova Scotian lumberjacks out there!
The Memorial
It was hard to get the lake/pond thingy in the shot, and the few I managed to get were too dark.
Anyway, then I spent a good chunk of time at Madurodam until it began to rain and I decided it was time to head back towards the hotel and find a bit of lunch along the way. But, it turns out my direction giving skills are only useful to others, because I became lost. And as the rain began to fall heavier and heavier, my patience was gone, my sleep and food deprived self became frustrated, and even though McDonalds was the first place (and only for a while!) that I could find, I continued my search.

I was eventually successful on the food-front. The rain on the other hand continued to beat down...until about 6PM, when I took a stroll to find a grocery store, and was - wait for it - surprised to witness a most spectacular sunset, highlighted a the number of windsurfers and kites!

Beautiful sunset through the clouds!
If you look closely enough, you can see some of the windsurfers and kites.
So that, my friends, is only the beginning of my first day in the Hague. I think Madurodam requires it's own post, and so I will try to get to that tomorrow, partly because I'm tired, and partly because I'm having trouble transferring some of the video I shot from camera to laptop! Stay tuned!

-the Orange Canadian

*All good. Luckily we were too busy chatting about our lack of knowledge in all things sports, so wen we were hit, we were pretty limber! Seriously - I'm perfectly fine! 
**I rarely accepted window seats, as there tends to be better leg room when you're on the aisle, plus you don't have to bother anyone if, by chance, you have to pee... which I do... frequently. Anyone else notice this change as you're getting older, or is it just me? (You're also all welcome for THAT delightful image!)
***Well, off of the beach.
****Perhaps I should just retitle this post as "Surprised"

Friday, 14 October 2016

My Kind of Kids!

The other night I was having a hard time sleeping. I ended up in the living room where I tossed and turned on the make-shift sofa*. By the time 2:30AM turned into 5:30AM, I was getting pretty frustrated. And that’s when it happened… I heard the most horrific sound. It sent me flashbacks to earlier this year when my Kampala neighbours conducted a massive goat slaughtering, and I thought to myself, oh no! Here we go again! But, in fact, it was not a goat slaughtering of any size. No, it was the pregnant goat I had noticed only the night before giving birth.

The result of the sounds of a presumably painful labour came in the form of two babies. I had originally thought one was solid black and the other solid white, but it turns out that they are each majority one colour, with spots of their siblings predominately colour. At any rate, they’re pretty friggin’ cute, and I’ve turned into a bit of a window creeper!

The initial shots. Apologies for being so blurry. 

At first I had only managed to capture the semi-blurry photo above, but the next day I happened to be looking out my bedroom window and saw them playing on the random pile of dirt in the yard. It was so cute, I quickly grabbed my camera and began filming for just long enough to capture the moment, while not feeling too creepy doing so. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture one of them first attempting to make it to the top of the dirt pile. This was actually what prompted me to gather my camera, because it made it a few steps up and the all fours came out from underneath, and it was simply adorable.

A few more post-video shots, just enough to solidify my creepiness!

Now, if only the children that live in the main house were this tolerable and entertaining… Or if I could track down some pajamas for the goats!!

-the Orange Canadian

*It’s a single mattress on the floor covered by a blanket, with two pillows for back rests – it’s pretty stylin’!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Fish, Babies, and Long Drives in Small Spaces

It’s hard to believe three weeks have passed since I arrive in Uganda (again). To be honest, for the most part it’s been pretty boring. I mean, there isn’t a whole lot of excitement involved in writing business plans and finalizing budgets, so it was unsurprising that this has been the overall feel. This isn’t to suggest, however, that I’m consumed in all work and no play, as I’ve had several dates with friends, which have helped to break up the mundaneness of business start-up paperwork. But, it’s all starting to come together, which is good!

This past Friday I made my way into Kampala for the day to see a few more friends, but also to tackle a bit of business. I was surprised that it only took a little over 2 and a half hours to make the journey, as Friday travels are usually sllllooooooooooooooowwwwwww*.

My first stop was to catch up with my friend and business partner, Chuck. We ended up where I spent the week of the conference – Ggaba. Ggaba is known for having some pretty fresh fish, so we decided to indulge while we caught up, talked shop, and took in a bit of the scenery. The beauty of this fresh fish, is that you can purchase a sizable tilapia to feed 3 adult humans, with sides for UGX25000 (or about CAD$9!) – and it’s good. My favourite part, of course, if the use of hands in order to eat it. There’s just something magical about eating with your fingers!

Above: Chuck and Adolf digging in; Below: The aftermath/Chuck

After we polished off our meal (and partial apologies for not taking a before picture of lunch, for comparative purposes), we took a quick stroll to the edge of the pier where we snapped a few photos, and then parted ways.

Lake Victoria, from Ggaba
I really need to learn to selfie better!
L-R: Your Orange Canadian, Chuck, Adolf
The next stop was to New Emily’s for a surprise baby shower for one of the FRA crew. I, as usual, arrived early. But slowly others began to arrive, which gave time to catch up with those I hadn’t yet seen since returning. Here’s the thing, though, when planning a surprise party for an individual who is dedicated to her work, and refuses to leave the office without finishing what she had set out to do for the day… it’s extremely difficult to get her to leave the office and come to said surprise party. Fortunately, she eventually was swayed and made an appearance. Unfortunately, it was just as I was needing to head back to Jinja in order to avoid some of the Friday jam**.

That wasn’t the only unfortunate part, at least for this Orange Canadian. You see, usually exciting the city on a Friday night is nothing short of a nightmare. So many people, all trying to leave, with very little organization. So, you can understand how thrilled I was that at leaving just before 6:30PM, we somehow managed to get out of the city by 8:30PM! I thought this was a bonus, because it meant there was a possibility that I could arrive back in Jinja around 9:30PM or a little after. But just before entering my favourite part of the drive***, we came to a standstill. Not for a few minutes… for almost an hour. To make matters worse, the leg room in these modes of transport is not equivalent of the luxury found in air travel – it’s much, much smaller. So, little miss arthritic knees was starting to feel it by the time we stopped, and even more so when we pulled into Jinja at the ripe ‘ol hour of 10:57PM!

Here’s my take away from all of this. There is nothing like spending nearly 8 hours in a cramped public transport to make a girl feel old the next day. For essentially doing nothing, actually, just literally sitting, it is quite amazing how much of a toll that physically takes on your body. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve felt that sore since I ran a half marathon 5 years ago! So… there’s that.

Anyway, despite the lengthy and unexpected travel time, it was great to see a bit of the old neighbourhood and catch up with friends in the big city. But next time city folk – you’re coming to me!

-the Orange Canadian

*That’s the word slow drawn out over several seconds if said aloud, in case you were wondering…
**And now, I don’t mean tasty jams, as in good tunes. I mean excessive and nothing short of chaotic traffic jams!

***Which you should all know by now is Mabiera Forest