Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012 12:30—Another Christmas Down in Africa (Part 4)

So we left Cape Town on the 24th and flew to Dar (via Jo-burg and Addis).  Shocker Ethiopian Air lost my bag AGAIN!  Luckily this time it only took them about a day to get it back to me.  We spent our first day in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.  I spent the majority of Christmas day arguing with people.  We had to argue with the people at the ferry to get our ferry tickets for the next day but we did finally get our tickets and we didn’t have to pay again.  Then I spent a large portion of the rest of the day calling the airport (about 50 times) to get our bags back, but we got them back before leaving Dar (even if they did arrive at 2AM).

On the 26th we took the ferry in the morning to Zanzibar and then had an hour bus ride to get to the place we are staying.  We are right on the beach!  The water is a little disappointing because for most of the day the tide recedes too much and even when the tide is in, the water is really shallow.  In Dar and in Zanzibar, both, it is really really beyond hot!  It is hot during the day.  It is hot at night.  It is always hot!  That’s the only reason it would be nice to have the water right there to go in.  Nonetheless laying out on the beach has been really nice.

The first day we were here we mostly stayed at the place we are staying.  Then yesterday Kelsey and I took a Dolla Dolla (a public taxi) into Stone Town.  It was fun seeing Stone Town again.  I was basically our tour guide.  We saw many of the same places I saw in May with my parents.  We went to see Freddie Mercury’s house and we ate at Mercury’s restaurant.  The trip to Stone Town took all day, but it was nice to have something to do for one day. 

I’m not sure if I will leave here much until I leave.  Tomorrow we are going to a restaurant called The Rock, where you take a boat out to an island but then when you are done eating, the tide has receded and you can walk back.  Otherwise we have very few plans for our trip here.  Just more tanning and relaxing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 24, 2012 12:10 AM—Another Christmas Down in Africa (Part 3)

Today was my last full day in Cape Town.  And what we did for our last day here was to rent a car (or more like a van to accommodate us all) and drive to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.  Cape Point is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to!  I know I have a tendency to rave about certain places I’ve been, but this one tops the list and I don’t think it could be topped too easily.

Before we got all the way to Cape Point National Park we stopped at Boulder Beach and saw the penguin colony there.  There were so many penguins and people are allowed to use the same beach for swimming and sun bathing, so people can just hang out with the penguins.

This has been a really long exhausting day and week, so I’m just gonna let the pictures do the talking to describe our adventure today.  Otherwise, South Africa and Cape Town, in particular, was AMAZING!  I don’t want to leave.  This is really the anti-Africa.  South Africa is a somewhat poor country and there are small tribal villages and shanty towns, but what I saw of South Africa was almost exactly like America.  It may be hard for me to think about this and realize it, but I think this also has to do with the unusualness of the situation here.

Anyway, tomorrow we are on to Dar es Salaam and then Zanzibar!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012 4:30 PM—Another Christmas Down in Africa (Part 2)

So I’m still in Cape Town and things are still amazing!  On Wednesday we went shark diving.  It was awesome!  Basically it involves being in the water in a cage with the great white sharks.  The water was really really cold despite the fact that we had wet suits.  We saw six unique sharks.  The biggest one was 3 meters long.  It was really cool just seeing them in the water and then we got to see them in the water as well.  You may think this seems like a thrill seeking activity but in reality it is just really interesting seeing the sharks in their natural habitat.

Then yesterday we went on a wine tour.  We got to go to 4 separate vineyards and we did wine and cheese tasting.  We tried several different kinds of red and white wine at each winery.  It was awesome!


And then today several of us went to Robben Island, which is the prison where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison.  It was a nice little cultural tour.  However, I couldn’t help but have a different perspective on it.  Looking at the prison I realized that it was actually nicer than most schools in Uganda.  The tour emphasizes how awful it must have been for the prisoners (which it definitely was), but I did feel like Ugandan school children are often times treated worse.  Either way, I’m really glad I got to see Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.

Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell

Tomorrow, our last full day in Cape Town, we are renting a car and driving to Cape Point, where we can see the penguins.  Then on Monday we leave for Dar es Salaam.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012 6:00 PM—Another Christmas Down in Africa (Part 1)

So with Christmas fast approaching, it was about time for another African adventure.  On December 17th I left Uganda and flew to South Africa.  To get to South Africa I had to take three different flights.  First we went to Kigali, then Addis Ababa and finally we made it to Johannesburg.  Our plan was to stay in Jo’burg for one night and then fly to Cape Town.  From the time we got to the airport in Entebbe until we finally arrived in Jo’burg, the airline experience was a nightmare.  Ethiopian air was awful!  At the Entebbe airport the people were so ignorant and they wanted to photo copy our passports and our credit cards and they couldn’t explain why.  And when we tried to talk to them about anything they would laugh at us because that’s what Ugandans do when they are uncomfortable.  The Ethiopian airport in Addis is horribly designed.  It is not organized and many people almost missed their flights due to the airport security being incompetent.  And finally when we got to Jo’burg we realized that Ethiopia air lost every bag that we checked.  They said it was because we were coming from Uganda.  It seems like this kind of thing happens every day considering they were pointing out the bags that had been lost the day before.  Again, we were laughed at every time we tried to get some answers.  Luckily, our bags made it to Cape Town today, 2 days later.  Way to go Ethiopian Air!  You officially suck!  After this trip I will never again fly with them and for now I’m just hoping that they don’t lose my bag during the next two legs of my trip.

Other than the airline, everything has been great.  We arrived in Jo’burg on the 17th and we stayed at Bob’s Bunkhouse.  It was a nice little hostel near the airport and the people were pretty nice.  With only one night in Jo’burg we wanted to make our stay worth it, so we went to this restaurant called Carnivore.  It is one of only two in the world.  They serve all different kinds of meat including different kinds of game meat, such as zebra, antelope and crocodile.  It was awesome!

So much meat!

A big slice of zebra...MMMM

Piece of Crocodile next to the zebra

Then yesterday morning we had a short flight to Cape Town.  In Cape Town we are staying at Atlantic Point Backpackers and it is perfect.  It is near the waterfront.  It has a hot shower and free internet.  What more could we need?  When we arrived yesterday we dropped off our stuff and went for lunch and shopping.  There is a huge mall down on the waterfront that basically emphasizes how much Cape Town is like America.  I mean in a country with KFC and McDonalds and where you don’t have to be harassed to buy clothes, how could you not feel like you were in America.  Oh and did I mention, there are white people here…Everywhere!

Last night we went out to a sushi restaurant and then after that several of us stayed out and went to an Irish pub where there was a cover band playing American music.  It was fantastic, but we had a pretty late night.

Today once everyone got up and ready we went to Table Mountain.  6 people decided to hike up the mountain to the top.  But for me, I was in the group of 4 that chose to take the cable car to the top and back.  Partly, this decision was made because I didn’t have my sneakers because my bag still wasn’t here.  But I also didn’t feel like I was in shape enough for the hike.  Table Mountain was awesome!  The view was beautiful and you could see the clouds just rolling off the mountain.  However, it was so windy and cold at the top, we only stayed up there for about a half hour.  Then we came back to the hostel and I’m spending the rest of the day just relaxing.  Later tonight, the hostel is having a BBQ that we are participating in, so I’m sure that will be amazing!

All in all, I love it here!  I don’t want to leave.  This place is basically like America.  I don’t get stared at and I can get amazing food everywhere!

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012 11:10 AM—School-Based Training(SBT) Part 2

So after Camp Build ended, I came back to Mukono for another week of School-Based Training (SBT) with the trainees who arrived here in November.  This week was their second week of teaching practice (third week of SBT).  So every morning there were three lessons and each trainee would teach one lesson and observe their fellow trainees the other two lessons.  And then every afternoon they would have other non-school-related sessions, such as medical.  Yesterday was the last day of teaching and the last day we spent at Mukono High School.  Today all the trainees (secondary and primary) are having general sessions before heading off to their satellite trainings tomorrow.  Everyone from secondary travelled over to Shimoni PTC (Primary Teachers College) today.  This is where all of the people from the primary sector have been for the entirety of school-based training.  So we are all staying here tonight and then all the trainees will travel to their respective regions tomorrow.

It has been a good week overall.  Observing the trainees teaching has been exhausting, but I feel like they are all really getting the hang of teaching in Uganda and I think they are ready to move on with their training and their service.  Personally, I’m sad to go.  I’ve been living and working with these trainees now for two weeks.  Even some of the secondary trainees have pointed out that they have spent more time with me and the other volunteer trainers than they have with the people in their group in the primary sector.  It’s just kind of disappointing that many of these trainees will not be placed near me and I will be leaving this country shortly after they swear-in as volunteers.  But nonetheless, I’m proud to say that I think we have trained an awesome group of people to take over this education program in Peace Corps Uganda and if everything goes well I’ll be able to attend their swearing-in in Janurary!

Next step…South Africa on Monday!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012 8:30 PM—Camp BUILD

This past week I was at Camp BUILD in Kisubi, which is near Entebbe.  It was a lot of fun and a total success!  The Camp accommodated 100 boys between the ages of 12 and 15 from all over Uganda.  I participated as a staff member and I was assigned to be the town runner, so whenever we needed anything in town it was my job to go to town.  I also taught two different sessions during the week, Volcanoes and Gender Roles.  It was a lot of fun working with the boys.  It was so different than working with the girls.

During the week, the boys participated in different sessions which included both life skills and other activities.  They had sessions on nutrition, alcoholism, water and sanitation, domestic abuse, gender roles, malaria, HIV, and male and female reproductive health.  They also had a few just for fun sessions like volcanoes and bottle rockets.  Outside of sessions they had a time for activities every day as well as time for sports, where they had a football tournament throughout the week.

In addition to everything else that the kids were scheduled to do during the week, they also had time for “Building Blocks”.  These were small tasks and activities they could do that would earn them a building block and whoever got the most building blocks by the end of the week got a price.

Every night they also had an evening activity.  They watched two movies, learned how to play capture the flag, had a bon fire and had a dance party.

We also had four deaf kids at the camp, so every day all the campers got a brief sign language lesson so they could learn to better communicate with their fellow campers.

On Friday, we took the boys over the GLOW so the girls and boys could participate in a series of field day activity.  This was the first time all week that I got to see my girls from my school that I sent to GLOW.

Overall, I think the boys really enjoyed the camp.  The counselors and staff also enjoyed it.  Another totally successful project!

Making Volcanoes!!

One of the deaf kids teaching sign language

 Bottle Rockets

 Building Blocks 

(Yes, the groups were named after popular music artists in Uganda)

The boys from Build and the girls from Glow doing the limbo at field day

Our Staff Members