Monday, September 27, 2010

walking with rhinos

I went with about 15 of my coworkers and their spouses to a rhino sanctuary just a few hours outside Kampala. It was great fun and a nice escape from city-ish life. I walked within about 50 feet of a family of white rhinos and watched the mom nurse the baby. I scanned trees for monkeys (and managed to spot a few). I laughed at the Guinea fowl that failed to swerve off the road and tried to outrun the car instead. I pet a baby bush buck and was woken up by an oversized lizard scampering along the tin roof. I saw a massive snake sunning on the road. I successfully avoided acquiring any new mosquito bites.

Not a bad way to spend a Sat. night/Sunday morning, if you ask me!

Like an obsessed mother...

…I would like to post my fourth post about my animals in a row. They are doing well, thanks for asking! I just came back inside from my favorite pet parent time: every night I take Benvolio out and wind him down by throwing tennis balls across the yard. He mostly gets the idea of fetch and it is fun to watch him bound back and forth between the fruit trees. Scout, who is normally an indoor cat, get to come along (but isn’t allowed to wander). She stays safely tucked in to my sweatshirt and we get some quality snuggle time. Recently she has taken to sneaking down one of my sleeves to watch as I throw the ball with my other arm. She purrs and acts strangely calm (a sharp contrast to the spastic kitten she is in the house).
Isn’t she cute?

I am also happy to report that my babies survived their first night without me at home (my capable guards took care of them) when I went away to a rhino sanctuary for the night. Benvolio may have sulked a bit when I got home, but they will live without me from time to time (this was a whole 16 hour trip).
Look at his pitiful sulking face:

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Benvolio and I took a long walk today to a produce market down the hill. He is an energetic and obedient walker, so I thought it sounded like a good idea. As we exited the nice compounds that comprise Lubowa and wandered our way into the lower wetlands, I began to doubt myself. I quickly discovered that I was not taking my puppy on the beginner's walking loop. [I should note that this was my first time taking this route. Numerous people had told me that it was a safe but interesting shortcut to Zana market. And interesting it was!]

As birds called from the brush, I remembered that people told me there were chimps living in this area. I'm not really sure how Benvolio would react to a chimpanzee, but luckily we did not have to see. Giant estates transitioned into buzzing shanty towns. People and animals abounded. Women looked up from open fire cooking to smile and exchange greetings. Children balancing water bottles on their heads darted out of allies to shout excitedly in Lugandan about a white woman... with a dog! Goats and chickens meandered into the road. Stray cats skittered under stools and cows lumbered down water-logged dirt paths. Shirtless boys and men played barefoot soccer on litter strewn fields and shopkeepers rearranged their ware. We dodged puddles, boda-bodas, disoriented cattle, and families walking home from church. We slowed to answer every single "how are you?" and heard dozens of "I am well/fine" replies.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my usually fearful puppy did quite well heading to the market. He walked beside me and only cowered a couple times (when stray dogs came too close). We even crossed a major road and fandangled our way through a crowd to barter for fruit and vegetables. All the while, my little guy followed obligingly. He occasionally looked up at me with a note of hesitation, but overall, did well.

Did well, that is, until we saw a sickly looking turkey. Let me revise: a sickly looking turkey plus a very normal looking guy selling plastic chairs and bowls. I don't know what it was about this seemingly non-threatening pair that set him off, but Benvolio froze. He crumpled to the ground and completely refused to move. I had to pick him up and carry him about a block. Now, he may be a puppy, but he ain't a small dog!

After a bit, he let me put him down. Then he proceeded to drag me as quickly as he could back up the hill.

While I found it quite fun to see a new side of life here, perhaps the usual Lubowa route is more Benvolio's style at this stage of the game.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cats and Dogs

Who said that cats and dogs can't get along?

Let's be honest, half an hour ago they were chasing each other. But here's the picture that gives me faith they will be friends in the end.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Home Improvement

If these two faces aren't going to make me happy when I come home, what will?!?

Meet Scout. She is super spunky and completely fearless. I am going to have my hands full with her, I can tell. But I am hopeful that like her namesake (Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird), she uses her feisty enthusiasm for positive things… like making me smile! Or killing bugs/lizards! Scout is one of my favorite characters ever. As my first cat, my Scout now has big expectations to live up to.

Meet Benvolio (yes, I'm a total English nerd, another literary reference). Benvolio is the most docile, sweet three-month old puppy ever. He is like a constant shadow following me around. Like his namesake, I hope he distracts me from things that might be dragging me down (Why should I cares about a lack of power or planning for 5 classes, anyhow?) and serves as a loyal friend. I have no doubt he will succeed at both.

I know there are all sorts of movies and stories about how cats and dogs hate each other, but for now my new little ones are getting along splendidly! What a fun way to spend my Friday (many thanks to the Muslim church and the Ugandan government for the last minute declaration of a public holiday: Eid).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things that sound the same but aren't...

Every time I drive down Entebbe Road I notice something new. Today it was a rickety wooden box with “Rollex” painted in red letters that caught my attention. I laughed to myself (and my friend, Aura) that I wouldn’t trust the brand of any watches coming out of that box only to learn a new term: a Rollex is actually a Ugandan food. It is a chapatti (tortilla) with something rolled inside. Can you guess what it is? Give you a hint… the name sort of sounds like it! Roll(ed)…

That’s right: rolled eggs = rollex! Haha. Love it! Will have to try one some day soon ☺

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ugandan Victories

I had heard that the Uganda vs. Angola match was going to be crazy, but nothing prepared me for the 10,000ish people piling through matatu-jammed dirt roads and highly disorganized pedestrian entrances into Mandela National Stadium yesterday.

Along with 17 co-workers and friends, I traversed the chaos that comprised the stadium vicinity. Vevuzales sounded, tattered hand painted flags fluttered, and hundreds of whistle-blowing Africans pulsated in a flexing mass of frenetic excitement. With my purse tightly clenched in my left hand and my friend’s hand firmly secured in my right, I laughed and submitted to the current of people surging towards the gates.

About 20 minutes of crowd surfing and about 50 excited cries of “Muzungu! Ya Uganda!” later, we surfaced on the inside of the ticket counters. The large group I was attending the game with slowly reassembled on the inside of the security check where was finally enough room for our flag capes to wave freely and our voices to carry to each other. Then we made our way over to the VIP section (tickets were only $10 for front/center seats!).

Despite menacing grey clouds, we opted for prime, exposed seats in third row. Within minutes of kickoff heavy droplets were pinging down, adding their excited drumming to the bleating horns and zealous shouts. We were also graced with the presence of President Museveni, whose seat required him to walk through the VIP section. He was greeted with cheers, waves, and a giant collection of security officials. I was about 100 feet away from him and managed to snap one blurry picture!
The game itself was invigorating and SO much fun. Uganda scored early in the first half and a celebratory air surged through the stadium. The crowd went nuts: singing, dancing, shouting, When the Ugandan team scored their second goal, flares were lit and cheers persisted for minutes. Goal three was just icing on the cake.

While driving home amidst throngs of Ugandans celebrating the country’s victory, I couldn’t help but get excited for adventures to come here. Saturday was just a brief glimpse into a few of the excitements this country has to offer!