Experiences of a med student with an incurable travel bug.

Kabale, Uganda

I’m writing this from Kabale, where we will be until Monday when we head to Lyantonde. It’s so beautiful here; the village is situated in the valley between these massive hills (I’ve heard them referred to as mountains, but they’re not quite that big) that are very lush and fertile — you can see all the different little cultivated plots right up to the very top. It’s cold here, as in I wore my cuddle duds for the first two days, but once it stops raining and the sun comes out, the temperature is perfect. Today was the nicest day so far, it didn’t rain at all.

On Thursday we went to town for lunch and got caught in the rain. Everything stops when it rains here; the drops are big and heavy, and it just pours to varying degrees for quite some time. Being so high up it seems to come out of nowhere sometimes, dumping tons of rain and then just disappearing again. We got bicycle-bodas with umbrellas to get us to the cafe once it started to let up — bikes are everywhere here, and a lot of guys have cushions situated behind their seats to accommodate for a second rider, turning themselves into taxis! It’s great, once you get used to riding side-saddle and having semis careen past at full speed about one foot away. That afternoon we went to the closest “hot springs,” which turned out to be a warm mud hole, more or less, haha. Then we went to the Rwandan border and crossed for a bit, but there wasn’t anything too close and we couldn’t take the car across. Especially owing to the Kenyan borders being closed and the resulting fuel crisis, there were huge lines of oil tankers (empty and full) trying to go in both directions across this border.

Yesterday we went to Lake Bunyoni, the deepest lake in Uganda at 6,500 ft deep. It was clearly an area that caters to American muzungus that the depth wasn’t in meters. The lake was gorgeous, big, winding, and clear, at the base of a valley with lots of islands that rose straight out of the water as big hills, just like those on the shore line. There wasn’t really any beach, just water then steep slopes, with resorts carved into them. We spent the night at Bushara Island, the nicest one, where we stayed in a “treehouse” for a whopping $36/night. Our treehouse was actually a round house of sorts made of wood planks and a thatched roof, set on the side of the hill with a fantastic view of the lake off our porch and through our windows. There was a door off our room leading to an open-air shower (walls but no ceiling) and a compost toilet as it was an eco-tourism facility. Had delicious crayfish chowder for dinner!

I’ve been eating a mix of local and more “American” foods, but everything they make has a distinctively different flavor…I’m still not certain how you can change spaghetti, but rest assured it’s possible. I had chicken sweet and sour upon our return to Kabale today, and it was good but definitely different…I’m pretty sure they put everything in the same brown sauce, which might account for it. They bring you so much food here; usually one order is way more than enough for Molly and I to share and not finish! The service is great too…very friendly, and it takes an average of an hour to get your food, longer if it’s not traditional food, lol.

We’re staying at the Rukundo compound again now that we’re back in Kabale. JB and Joe have returned to Kampala for James’s 30th wedding anniversary today and to finish some work on their projects, so it’s just Molly and I staying here with the houseboy, JB’s cousin Elias. We’re going to ask him to teach us how to make kashara, a porridge, and maybe some other things (he makes a very good matooke-Irish(potato)-cauliflower mix). On Monday we’ll head to Lyantonde where we will check up on our water projects and work with a community health program. We plan to return to Kampala, the capital, on the 26th, where we will be staying in the Kampala City View guest house. It’s close to Mulago hospital, which is great as I just found out that I will be able to do rounds there with the doctors and medical students in surgery, pediatrics, and medicine upon our return! That should be very interesting, as long as they don’t expect much input on my part!
Hope all is well!

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