Week 1: Welcome to Uganda

“You’re most welcome; Welcome to Uganda” was the greeting I heard most often as I was introduced to the local people. On our first day we were shown around the city of Kampala and taken to the local mall for some light shopping, money exchange, and lunch. We were quite surprised when we opened our menu at the sleek looking CafeJava to a menu filled with a variety of dishes (Burgers, TexMex, Mexican food, Indian food and more) on the menu! Coming from San Diego I had to, of course, try a burrito, and I was pleasantly surprised at how authentic it tasted, as good as any burrito you’d find in California and it was only a 20-hour plane ride away!     After settling in a bit more the next night we went to their local cultural center for a performance on all the different tribe’s cultural dances found in the various parts of Uganda. I was surprised at how many different cultures were found within Uganda, we saw about 20 different dances and that wasn’t even a presentation of all the tribes. The night concluded with the audience members joining the performers center stage to shake our hips to a song expressing “Hakuna Matata!” Swahili for “No Worries!”     Once we set out set out for our district of Mbale we made two stops along the way, the source of the Nile in Jinja and Sippi Falls. We took a boat ride down the Nile to see where Lake Victoria ended, and the Nile began and got to see some of the birds and monkeys in the trees along the river. In Sippi we hiked up 2 trails to see two magnificent waterfalls, that had so much power I could easily be swept away literally and figuratively.   The wildlife in Uganda is plentiful, the vegetation is lush, and the land screams of fertility. The mud is  vibrant red in color and the plants seem to be greener than any I have seen before. The temperature is mild providing a perfect environment for agriculture.   -Mary