Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8, 2011 11:00 PM--Gulu for the 4th of July and Some Fun Facts

So I spent last weekend in Gulu.  I left here very early on Friday morning and I came back on Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun.  I got to see a lot of my favorite volunteers, eat a lot of good food and take in some sun.  It took me about 11 hours to get there on Friday.  Friday night we went to an American restaurant called the coffee hut for dinner.  On Saturday we went to a hotel right outside of the town center which has a pool.  That night we had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant that I don’t know if I could ever find again.  On Sunday we didn’t have much else to do, so we went back to the pool and we got dinner at a really good Indian restaurant.  On Monday morning the last of us left Gulu.  I headed to Lira with Liz.  While we were waiting for our taxi to leave I saw a guy wearing a Philadelphia Eagles hat (the first sign of Philly that day).

When we got to Lira, we got lunch at an American restaurant where I got a Ugandan cheesesteak (second sign of Philly that day).

It wasn’t as good as an actual cheesesteak but it may be the closest thing I can get for the next two years.  After lunch and a little shopping, we went back to Liz’s site, which is about 10 km from Lira town.  That night we made Mexican food for dinner and hung out.  Overall, it was a really good weekend and a great way to celebrate the 4th of July.  It was the longest I’ve been away from site since I got here and it is the farthest I’ve been from here too.  It was really interesting seeing the differences from the south to the north.  Most of the people there have been totally devastated by war in recent years.  The first major difference I noticed is the amount of mud huts there.  Where I am in the southwest, I don’t see very many mud huts, but in the north you see them everywhere.

A lot of the people in that region have been in IDP/work camps up until just a few years ago, so they don’t have much money.  And mud huts are much cheaper to build than actual houses.

Another major difference between the south and the north is the amount of white people or Mzungus you see up there.  Around here I see them sometimes when I go to town, but it’s not expected to see any.  In Gulu, they are everywhere!  This is because there are a lot of NGO’s in the north that are trying to help the people there because of all the war.  The north is also much hotter than it is here.  I finally understand why people here say it is so cold here.  It seemed cold to me when I got back.

A couple fun facts from this weekend:

1.)    Gulu is the second largest town in Uganda.
Kampala is the first, Lira is third, and Mbrara (my home) is fourth.

2.)    There is no such thing as Peace Corps Amsterdam.
We were talking to a white woman at the pool who told us she had a friend who did Peace Corps Amsterdam.  After she left, we all looked at each other and said “Peace Corp Amsterdam?”  I think if Peace Corps were in Amsterdam everyone would be trying to get in, not to mention that Amsterdam is a city not a country.  And just to clarify, Peace Corps has never been in Western Europe.

3.)    FUFA is the Federation for Uganda Football Association.
One of my friends was trying to buy a football jersey and she was amazingly quotable in saying “It says Ubanda and FUFA…I’m not paying full price for this!”  As it turns out it said Uganda and only looked like Ubanda and FUFA is a real thing not just a typo for FIFA.

I also got a pretty awesome map while I was in Gulu (all those who know me well know how much I like really interesting maps).  I bought it in a craft shop in town.  It is one of a kind and hand-carved out of one solid piece of wood.  One of the other volunteers pointed out that it will soon be out of date when South Sudan gets there independence on July 9th.  She pointed it out as almost a negative thing, whereas I saw it as a positive.  I find it really interesting when you can date the map by looking at the countries on it.  And as of tomorrow my map will be old and dated and that’s part of what I like about it.

On another note, I would have posted this sooner, except that my power was gone when I got home on Tuesday and I didn’t get it back until tonight (Friday).  My neighbor never paid the electric bill so they shut off my power.  They now put in a separate meter for my house, so I don’t have to rely on someone else paying the bill.  I don’t know if this means that I will have to pay an electric bill now or if the school will cover it, but I don’t care.  I will gladly pay an electric bill if it means my power won’t be out for 3 solid days.  The power being out was most troublesome for me because I can’t cook without power.  So I ate a lot at school (Matooke and beans…not ideal) and snacking a lot at home (wearing down on all the “rations” mom sent me).


  1. That map is beautiful! Love it :) Maybe when I come visit I will try and somehow bring you a cheese steak or at least amoroso rolls and whiz hehe

  2. I'll settle for an amoroso roll and some cheese Its more than I got now.