My Last Weekend in Jinja


Good news, everyone! (Imagine my best Professor Farnsworth impression).  It turns out Greg doesn’t have malaria after all (also, I apologize, because apparently he didn’t skip his antimalarial as often as I thought he did)!  Whatever doctor or hospital FSD originally took him to misdiagnosed him and gave him some kind of random mystery medicine that didn’t treat his symptoms and actually may have made him feel worse.  But now, he’s got a correct diagnosis and better medication, so he’s on the mend!  There’s still a lesson to be learned, here: when sick in Uganda, always go to Dr. Debbie!  And get yourself a malaria test kit, too, so if you’re diagnosed with it, you can check for yourself.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do much with us this weekend, though he did share some meals with us, and he won’t be at work tomorrow, but hopefully he’ll be well enough to enjoy our last days in Kakira/Jinja, as well as our time in Kampala and on safari—all of which I’m very excited about!

So, I spent the weekend in Jinja, just like I said I would.  It was fairly standard as far as my less-adventurous weekends go.  However, there’s still some notable stuff to report.

First off, on Friday evening, I had my first skype session in Uganda (made possible by the fact that barely anyone was using the wifi at Backpackers at the time…which doesn’t happen too often there or anywhere.), with my good friend Vince who doesn’t read my blog.  This is a pretty big deal, since originally he had wanted to communicate solely via snail mail when I was away, as he’s done with some of our other friends who have gone abroad.  Upon learning that mail could take 3 weeks (or more, as it’s turned out) to travel between the U.S. and Uganda, he decided talking online would be acceptable.  I’m sure he’s still getting lots of use out of his typewriter, so no tears need be shed.  In any case, it was really nice to be able to actually see the face and hear the voice of someone who I’ve been missing from home.  Writing is great, but you just can’t beat real human interaction.

But the excitement didn’t end there!  We went out for Indian food at Caroline(the program coordinator)’s favorite restaurant!  And on the way…I fell off a boda.  Yeah…not my proudest or most graceful moment.  I was sitting side saddle and not holding on as tightly as I should have been considering the abundance of speed bumps and potholes on the particular road.  We hit a pretty big one, and I sort of popped up off of it.  At that point, I knew I was going to fall, so I did my best to try and put my feet on the road and get off so that the boda wouldn’t drag me, but I wasn’t quite fast enough and the boda was still moving, so I basically toppled over sideways, right into the dirt.  Luckily, the driver had been going pretty slowly, so it really wasn’t such a big deal.  It’s just that I went down in a pretty ridiculous and scary-looking fashion.  I scraped my arm a little, but wasn’t in any kind of pain.  Honestly, the biggest wound I suffered was to my pride…because of course, it WOULD happen in front of ALL MY FRIENDS and some other random Ugandan men who must have just thought I was a dumb tourist muzungu….hard to maintain my dignity under those circumstances!  But the other interns were pretty cool about it.  Some of the others have also had boda mishaps, too, though I think mine was probably the least graceful of them all!

The restaurant was nice.  The food was good, and I got to catch up with the other interns and get to know a few of the ones from Northwestern, there.  Caroline also showed up, which was pretty cool.  She even came back to Backpackers with us after the meal, which I was glad for, because we don’t have much time left to spend with her!  It’s so much fun hanging out with Caroline outside of official FSD activities.  She’s such an interesting and cool person (not that the others aren’t…because, really, everyone doing this program is!), and she’s had so many wonderful experiences all over the world  (She reminds me a lot of you, Justine!  I hope you’re still having fun in Ghana!).  Backpackers actually was kind of hopping on Friday night.  I think we got back around 9pm and there were already a bunch of drunk people singing Bohemian Rhapsody!  It was a fun night.  We all hung out, had some drinks, and made a few new friends.  Our second night was pretty similar, though we had two of the girls from UNC instead of Caroline, there were less people, and no Bohemian Rhapsody.  Both nights, however, we did have our good buddy Nash by our sides.  He’s the manager of the hostel.  He’s been very good to us—he gives us discounts and calls us taxis and things like that, but he’s also VERY FLIRTY.  It’s actually pretty funny, though it’s probably funnier for me than for some of the other girls, who he hits on a lot more often.  Still, it was sad to say goodbye to him and to Backpackers after spending so much time there.  We’ve promised to come back and visit soon, as Nash told us we must do so before he ends up getting married (I guess his “engagement” to Allison is off, now.  The two of THEM were supposed to get married on Saturday night.)

During the day, I did a lot of shopping and hanging out in internet cafés.  I’ve discovered that I love haggling.  It’s a big part of the culture here, and I think I’m pretty good at it!  I got a lot of great stuff, and I didn’t pay full price for any of it!  There’s one store where I ended up making most of my purchases, who was run by a really sweet woman, named Eva.  She has a three year old daughter who is also named Rachel, so she liked me a lot and said that I was her daughter, too.  We talked about our similarities (I don’t throw tantrums anymore, but I used to!) and I told her a bit about my family, too! I promised to come back and visit her again, soon, and referred her to all of my friends.

On Sunday morning, we had a pretty frustrating breakfast experience.  We went to a new place, which had opened very recently (you could tell).  Noam and Kellen had been there a few times, and had given it very high praise.  The owner, they said, was really sweet, the food was great, and she had been taking all kind of suggestions they had made about how to get lots of muzungu customers (moist baked goods, fresh fruit, background music, etc.).  Naturally, we were really excited to try it out.  Almost everyone ordered egg, bacon, and avocado sandwiches.  Two others ordered bacon, egg, and cheese, and Noam ordered toast and a fruit salad.  Greg also ordered a cup of tea.  I know that was boring information, but you’re going to want to keep it in mind.  First off, it took about an hour before anything arrived.  This is annoying, but does tend to happen sometimes at restaurants, what with Uganda time (another thing that I will NOT miss…I forgot to include it on the list!), but it was a bit strange, since we were the only customers in the restaurant.  However, we thought we’d give them a break, since we were probably the largest crowd they’d had so far.  For some inexplicable reason (actually, there’s a reason, and it was that our waitress was completely incompetent), they brought us a large pitcher of coffee and several cups, even though no one had ordered it.  We explained that no one had ordered coffee and that one person had ordered tea.  They came back with tea, but again, it was a huge pot of tea, with way more than one cup.  At that point, some of the girls felt bad and decided to take some, anyway (though the regretted it when they were charged 3,500 shillings for it!  That’s really expensive for black tea.  It’s usually considered pricey at 2,500).  After waiting for an additional 20 minutes or so, they finally started bringing out food.  Now, you recall that we all ordered pretty much the same thing—egg, bacon, and avocado sandwiches, with two bacon egg and cheese sandwiches.  But that is not, in fact, what they brought us.  What they did bring us were a number of ridiculous variations with some sort of combination of those ingredients, plus lettuce and sausage, which no one had asked for.  Almost none of the sandwiches included eggs.  In the end, they pretty much gave everyone what they ordered, but it took forever, and the waitress was perpetually far too blasé and obnoxious about all of it.  And poor Noam’s fruit salad came last of all.  She didn’t even want to eat it at that point.  They took it off the bill though, which was nice.  What wasn’t nice was the price of the sandwiches, which we hadn’t known about beforehand, because they don’t have menus yet and prices aren’t listed anywhere.  The owner was very apologetic and offered us some free baked goods, but at that point, we just wanted to get the hell out of the restaurant.  I really have no idea why they had so much trouble with our orders.  It just made absolutely no sense.  Sure, there were 8 of us, but only 3 separate orders.  How do you come up with different sandwiches for everyone, some of which have completely irrelevant ingredients that no one ever mentioned wanting?  Though I’ll admit, it was pretty funny to see what they’d bring out next.  Sort of like a probability problem in math class (If 7 people order sandwiches, and the ingredients available are bacon, egg, avocado, cheese, lettuce and sausage, how many different combinations of sandwiches can be made, and what is the probability that they’ll actually be served what they ordered?).  I’m sure once they get on their feet (and hopefully fire that waitress!), it’s going to be a lovely place.  Too bad I won’t be around to see it!

It was so strange to be visiting most of these places in Jinja for the last time.  I spent my first few days in the country in that town; it was my first real introduction to Uganda and its culture.  Jinja is where I go to escape from the monotony of Kakira, it’s a place I’ve always looked forward to visiting.  It’s been a constant source of muzungu culture and reminders of home, to the degree that any place here can be.  It’s also the home of the FSD office, of course, another place with people who I’ll miss dearly.  I’ll go in once more on Wednesday for the exit interview, lunch, and swimming with the site team and all the interns I’ve gotten to know so well, here.  I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll admit I’m ready to move on, but at the same time, it’s going to be bittersweet, and so difficult to leave these people and places behind.  Still, I can’t wait for the real vacation part of this trip, and of course to come home and see all of you!

Stay tuned for my typical day in Kakira entry, and for some very cool pictures!




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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