Thursday, August 2, 2007

curt's journal from Uganda-July 30

The earplugs worked perfectly and I got my first good night of sleep. Ready to face the day. Today we went to the US Embassy to “check in.” Wow, talk about tight security! And grumpy too, until we got past the screeners. Once inside, we filled out the paperwork and then moved BACK through the grumpy screening facility so we could go to the library, where we heard there was free internet for American citizens. Free? Yes. Fast? Uh, NO! Apparently, our tax dollars have not upgraded the computers in the Embassy for quite some time. We spent about 30 minutes trying to read our emails, but no one was successful except Courtney, who was able to get off one email. Oh well, the quest for a good connection continues. I know in the grand scheme of things there are worse problems, but I am anxious to share our experiences with friends and family back home.

When we got done there, we went back for a quick lunch. Not much is quick here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since there was nothing on our schedule, we decided to take the afternoon to buy some gifts for people back home. It was really enjoyable to get out and check out the city. We haven’t really been out much yet as we adjust to how things work here. It’s been really relaxing though. I got to sit in the front seat of the van to get my first front row view of Uganda driving. Wow! Our driver, the other Moses, is really good and is trusted by our hosts. I wish I could somehow express what Uganda driving is like. Maybe it’s like this in a lot of countries, but this is my first experience with it. There are lines painted on the road, but I don’t think anyone notices them. Weaving in and out of traffic are the boda-bodas, which I’ve already described, stacked with everything from people to bananas to large plumbing pipes and crossbeams. Walking alongside the road and crossing anywhere, and any time, they want to are the pedestrians…some of the bravest souls I’ve ever encountered. Now I know where the term “walking the gauntlet” came from. They even walk down the middle of two-way streets. But, unlike the U.S., pedestrians here have absolutely ZERO right-of-way. Cars and boda-bodas don’t slow down a bit when someone crosses the street in front of them. I might be imagining things, but I think they might even speed up…just a bit. They just assume the person is going to dive out of the way. This happens several times on every city block. I seriously don’t know how people don’t get killed here all the time.

The African Village was touristy, but not too much. Our host/cook Resty assured us that it was real African stuff and that the shop owners expect you to barter. She told us not to buy anything until we had gone into all the shops and checked out the prices. Sure enough prices were different at each shop for the same items. Surprisingly, Leslie was the master barterer. She won’t ever do that at garage sales back home, but she was totally working it! Mary was a pretty good shopper too. Plus, she’s been learning a lot of Luganda, which is helpful at times. You can often hear Resty teaching her new words and phrases. Mary’s background in French is coming in handy. We walked around for a few hours and got some really unique little mementos. It was a really nice afternoon.

On the way home we stopped at a coffee shop/bar because we heard they had wireless internet. Like everything else here, it comes at a cost. It’s a little spendy, but it worked faster than the US Embassy! Everywhere you go, people are charging you coming and going. The other day, a policeman standing on the corner stopped Pastor Moses for easing into a crosswalk at the wrong time. I don’t get that. You can practically plow down a pedestrian everywhere else, but go into CERTAIN crosswalks and you’re in trouble. He ended up having to…um…pay a “special fee” to the policeman to let it slide. Otherwise, they take your license away until you stand before a judge and pay an earth-shattering fee. They take their traffic laws seriously here. (wink, wink, nod, nod).

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the latest on the sells

As of May 27, 2009...

Wow, it's been almost a year since we've updated this. Our family had a wonderful experience traveling to Uganda two summers ago, which prompted us to keep a journal on this blog. You can read our daily journal from our month long trip

This year brings new adventures. Our eldest daughter, Courtney, after graduating from George Fox University with honors, left for her third trip to India to spend nearly a YEAR to work at Happy Home for the Handicapped in Shimoga, India. You can read about her first trip to India and the impact it had on her life here. She'll also give us new updates from her current trip on this site (here). As of this writing, she is just starting to settle in and is very excited to be there. She has been looking forward to this for a long time!

Meanwhile, Hillary spent all of last year
touring the western U.S. with Matsiko, the choir of children we grew to love as our own in Uganda. She journalled about her experiences in Uganda if you'd like to see what that was like. At some point during this tour, she felt led to join the U.S. Army. Quite a big decision, and one she didn't take lightly. After moving through Basic Training with flying colors, she is now at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio training to become a combat medic. It's a very intense training, but we're sure she'll do well. Our whole family was able to travel to South Carolina to watch her graduate from Basic Training. What an awe inspiring experience!

Leslie is having a great year of teaching 5th graders. She's also in a Master's program, which takes a good chunk of her time. She's still finds time to read a TON of books. Literally, a ton!

Curt was overwhelmed by his experience as a first time overseas traveler and kept up his journal here (you can also read his random posts on everyday life here). The busyness of life and keeping track of his traveling kids has slowed down his writing, but he hopes to begin writing on a regular basis again soon.