Monkeys on the Roof (Jinja Nightlife and Bujagali…Lake?)

Once again, pictures to come soon!  Probably sometime tomorrow or Saturday!

Last weekend was very eventful, and a lot of fun!  We got the day off of work on Friday, to attend a workshop that FSD scheduled for us, about child soldiers and how Ugandan justice and law enforcement systems treat children (including children and adults who were abducted child soldiers).  It was lead by some professional lawyers who specialize in human rights cases, and had a lot of experience in the field.  It was very informative, and I learned a lot.

Here are some pictures of us catching up with one another before the meeting:

Margaret checks in with the group working in Bugembe…

While Jonan and Caroline set up the projector for the presentation.  (I figured it was about time I included some pictures of them!).

After the meeting, those of us who were staying overnight checked in at Backpackers, where the manager now remembers my name.  The whole group of interns met up again later that night for dinner.  We went to an Indian restaurant called “Skewers” where the specialty is—you guessed it, kabobs.  I actually didn’t order one, because I wanted to try a naan dog (a sausage wrapped in naan), but I tried a piece of one that a friend ordered, and wished that I had gotten one, too (the naan dog was nothing special).  They also had a really good dessert, which they called a chocolate calzone.  Basically, it was naan with nutella, chocolate sauce, and powdered sugar, which definitely made up for the rest of the meal.  After we ate, we hit the town, and checked out the nightlife of Jinja.  We found this really nice bar, with an outdoor porch.


It was next door to a really crowded club with a live band, so it was nice because we got to enjoy the music but didn’t have to be the only muzungus engulfed in a giant, sweaty mass of people.  Caroline, her boyfriend, and some of their friends met up with us at the bar, too, so that was really nice.  I had a really great conversation with one of Caroline’s close friends, whose name I think is Katie.  She had also done an internship with FSD, and we swapped stories about our frustrating experiences at the organizations with which we worked—she worked at a school where everyone was really disorganized.  Her program actually no longer exists, because the school had to close down.  I hope ours doesn’t meet the same fate!  She’s also really into theatre and the performing arts!  She’s from Germany, and she told me about how she and her friend go every year to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I was so jealous!  I told her that when she goes this summer (she’s returning from Uganda just in time for it), she should make sure to see All An Act!  She thought it sounded really cool and was really excited to check it out.  Speaking of which, the production team still needs money in order to bring the show to Scotland!  If you’re able to spare the money, please make a donation and help them out!  It would really mean a lot to me.  Sean has done so much for me, he’s given me some amazing opportunities to direct his work (including a world premiere) for free, and I’d love to be able to repay him for that.  Even if you can’t donate, you can spread the word about the show.  The link to his website is:

The next day, we took a trip to what used to be a place called Bujagali Falls.  Recently, they built a dam, so now Bujagali Falls has become Bujagali Lake.  This is disappointing, since we’re told that the falls were beautiful, and a plain lake is a lot less exciting, but it was still really beautiful there.


Oh, and guess what else we got a view of?  MONKEYS.  Yup!  Monkeys roaming in the wild, jumping and climbing trees and such.  I think most of you know that I really love monkeys.  These ones were particularly cute, too, so it was all very exciting!   There were even babies!  A lot of my pictures didn’t turn out so great, and it was hard to take them, because while the monkeys were close, they were still fairly far away, and of course they moved a lot.  Here are some of the better ones.



The tree the lighter-furred monkeys were hanging out in was actually right next to the hostel’s dorms, in which we decided to spend the night.  They kept jumping from the trees to the roof, and running around on it.  It was pretty funny.  And yes, they woke me up the next morning.  It was pretty early, but I didn’t even mind, because THERE WERE MONKEYS ON MY ROOF!!!!  How many people can say that they’ve been woken up in the morning by monkeys playing on their rooftop?  Not many that I know of.  And I’d bet you don’t know a ton, either.

So, during the day, we hung out by the lake, and at night, there was a party at the hostel, which we’d been planning on attending anyway, since Caroline had told us about it the night before and had invited us to accompany her.  Luckily, it was easy enough to switch our reservation from Backpackers, because the same person owns both hostels!  The one slight problem we all faced was that it was a costume party—and of course, we didn’t have much to work with.  Most people in the group decided to be “American college students.”  In the end, it didn’t much matter, because almost no one there had a costume (when you’re a tourist in Uganda, I guess you don’t really pack with the intention of attending a costume party).

Look at these guys…so lame.

There were a couple of guys in dresses, though, and a few people with more elaborate costumes.  I’m still astounded as to where one couple was able to find bunny suits…maybe they brought them from home, because I haven’t seen them on sale anywhere in Jinja.  I suppose you never know when one will come in handy, right?  Anyway, if you know me at all, you know that I when there’s a theme party, I can’t just be lame and not come up with anything (except for that jungle-themed one that I had to run over to right after house managing Spring Awakening…I still tried, though!  My skirt had flowers on it, and it’s not my fault the tape wasn’t strong enough to keep the fake leaves on my shirt!).  So, I worked with what I had, which was: a black sweater, a black skirt, a pair of glasses, a friend who smokes like a chimney, and a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.  Anyone guessed it yet?  I went as a pretentious hipster!  Or an English major.  Take your pick (I love you, English majors!).  In the end, I think it turned out pretty well, and the sweater kept me warm when it got cold.

This could absolutely be a Nile Special ad, right?

Anyway, we had a lot of fun.  That picture I took of the bar area was early on in the night, before I got tired of taking photos.  It got much more crowded later on, especially in that one spot, because it started to rain, so no one wanted to be on the deck, where all the cool kids (us) had previously been hanging out.  Side note—you know what’s fun?   When the power goes out during a storm and you’re in the bathroom.  So you have to try and find your way out (by touching the walls…ew) and then run through the rain to get back to the area where everyone is and try to find your friends, all in complete darkness.  Oh, and then tall boys in dresses bump into you and it’s scary.  But then they think it’s cute how tiny you are and help you find your friends, so there’s a happy ending after all.  Even though you have a Lady Macbeth moment when the lights come back on, because you’re trying to disinfect yourself with hand sanitizer (thanks, Mom!).  Still, it hardly put a damper on the night, as you can see:


Oh, and we made some new muzungu friends, named Dan (from Chicago) and Lauren (from Texas), who are helping to build an orphanage in Iganga (some of our interns are there, too!).

Can you figure out which ones they are?

They came over to our table when they overheard us playing King’s Cup.  Apparently they had been trying to find people to play it with all week!  Then, they taught us a game.  It could have been the beginning of the night at any ordinary college party (except of course, I drink soda at those!).  During the whole night, we shared stories of our lives back home in the U.S. and our experiences in Africa (both good and bad).  It was during this time, that I adopted my two new mottos—coined by Lauren:  “This Is Africa” and “Africa Wins Again!”  “This is Africa” is a phrase that you use when you encounter some sort of typical and fairly minor challenge or inconvenience that comes with the territory and your choice to be in Africa.  “Africa Wins Again” is for those moments when you’re getting your ass kicked and are completely out of your comfort zone.  So, when you have to take bucket showers and eat posho for the billionth time and have mosquito bites all over your legs?  This Is Africa.  But when you’re dehydrated and glued to the toilet because you’ve gotten a parasite from accidentally swallowing tap water, or you’re stuck in the hospital with a bout of malaria?  Africa Wins Again!  Get it?  I’m not sure if it’s as funny if you’ve never actually been to Africa and experienced life here, but I hope it is!  I definitely liked it, anyway.

So we talked, and we drank, and we danced…by the way, Dan is a fantastic dancer (and by “fantastic,” I mean the most awkward dancer I’ve seen in my entire life).  One of the funniest things I’ve noticed here is that no matter how much you might hate a song that’s popular and overplayed in the U.S., when you’re completely deprived of American culture for so long, and you hear it, simply because it’s familiar to you, and you happen to know the words, it becomes YOUR FAVORITE SONG!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen muzungus bond over “Call Me, Maybe,” “I Kissed a Girl,” or the Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me.”  Yes, even me.  “Call Me, Maybe” was kind of my jam last weekend.  I sang the chorus at the top of my lungs, and I wasn’t even drunk.  I’m a little embarrassed, but I’m fairly certain you’d do the same in my position.  They did play good songs, too.  I was so disappointed that nobody but me seemed to know Matt and Kim’s “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare,” though!  I made another new friend that night, too, a Ugandan guy named Aston who lives in Kampala.  He was a lot of fun to dance with, and seemed relatively nice and non-sketchy, so I agreed to give him my e-mail address—but not to go out with him!  He’s tried, though (punctuating his efforts with about a billion question marks).  I think that’s pretty typical of Ugandan men, though.  A lot of them really try to pick up muzungu women, I think largely because they think we’re rich and/or want us to take them to America, (though Aston said he likes me because I’m “carlm”).  I think we’ll still be able to be friends in the end, and if I’m out in Jinja or Kampala with a large group, maybe I’ll let him know and he can join us.

Tomorrow, we’re off on another weekend adventure, to Mbira Forest!  It’s the largest rainforest in Uganda, and we’re told there are monkeys (yay!) and many different types of exotic birds!  I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to share.  Steven said that he knew a girl who visited Mbira Forest, and she stayed so long that when she came back, she looked like the monkeys there!  So I’ll try my best to return 100% human, but I cant’ make any guarantees.  After all, I am a Tamarin.




About racheltamarin

I'm a college student, studying abroad in Jinja, Uganda this summer. Through this blog, I will share stories and thoughts about my journey (and make sure my family and friends know that I'm still alive!).
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