Monday, July 7, 2014

From weddings to the safari!

One of the most exciting things on the trip was to be able to attend a Ugandan wedding ceremony. We met an American family while attending a church service and baptism and the mother was the aunt of the groom. So we found ourselves invited and we were able to partake in the ceremony, which had probably around 200 or more guests. It was very exciting and we got a slice of cake out of it to top it off!
As part of a side trip, Daryl and I along with our mentor, Susie, and two workers from the Ishaka Health Plan visited Lake Bunyonyi. It's the deepest lake in Uganda and has 29 islands. We took a tour of a few of the islands through a boat ride and passed the tiniest one, which was known as Punishment Island. Apparently back in the day, if women in the village were found pregnant before their wedding they would bring the girls here and leave them. Terrible, but this tradition wasn't stopped until the mid 1900's.
On one Saturday afternoon, we were invited to attend a lunch at one of our friend's houses who works with Ishaka Health Plan, the same health plan we are doing research at. As a means of entertainment all of the children gathered sang many songs to us that they learned from school. They were so excited they sang for at least an hour before they were told to go sit down in the back of the house by the adults.

On our way to our safari tour, we drove through the bridge that goes over the two lakes in Uganda. On the side we saw a small village that had many boats lined near the bank where villagers would take across. Besides catching fish, one of the extreme dangers villagers had to look out for were the hippos. They could territorial and pretty aggressive.

We went to Queen Elizabeth Park and took a safari tour. Our guide was a man named Matthew, who had worked previously at the park for 10 years. He took us to a spot where lions were known to sun bathe in the early morning hours. When we got there, there was at least three other cars. We stood at least 50 feet away and were taking photos through the sun roof of the car. It was pretty cool to see the great jungle cats chilling in the sun getting their tan on.
After touring the open land where most of lions and other animals were in Queen Elizabeth Park, we made a reservation for a boat ride in Mweya. While we waited our tour guide, Matthew, led us through some villages where we got the awesome chance to see an elephant leave the enclosure behind a house. Apparently the villagers name him John, because he left his herd and became domesticated by wandering through the nearby villages sometimes even knocking things down.
Part of the last stop in our retreat was a boat ride on the Kizinga Chanel. It was a two hour boat ride but we were able to see lots of animals, from birds like the African Eagle to the water buffalo. As we moved along the shore we spotted some hippos lying down near the shoreline. Most of the time when spotted they were in the water only showing their heads or their backs, so seeing them on land and how huge they were was pretty amazing. That concluded our tour in Queen Elizabeth Park and now we head back to work on Monday working in the office.

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