Saturday, 22 July 2017

Uganda UBC 1

Uganda UBC visit & Diary

Leave for the airport; flight leaves at 6:13 PM so naturally I need to leaver for the airport at 3:00 PM so as to not make Jeri nervous.  The enormous Denali SUV pulls around to the end of our driveway at 10 minutes to 3, which is 10 minutes early.   So I forgot a couple of last minute things, like putting lotion on my face and hands. It worked out since we had to stop at the ATM on N. Campus so I would have enough USD to buy my Uganda VISA and still have some $$$ to change for local currency if I can not use a card to buy a SIM and/or phone, depending on whether Lester’s (very old) Chinese Samsung will even work in Uganda.  It worked in Ghana, so I am hopeful.  Would not work in Athens, Greece last month.
First leg from Detroit to Amsterdam, about 7.5 hours.  Discovered this amazing secret room at DTW where you can go and check in and check bags and avoid the lines!  I was told that by the woman at the Sky Medallion front desk who said their system was down and that I should just go through that door - that I had never noticed before.  Apparently it is some kind of VIP check-in area.  Pretty cool to see it.

On the flight I sat next to a woman on her way to Stockholm in seat 10J.  We were in the front row of steerage so had to put everything overhead.  Very annoying.  And had a pull out-and-up video screen that would not get straight and kept slipping down.  It was fine as I tried to nap as much as possible, with only middling success.

2 hr. 20 minute layover at Schipol, which was about right.  I was able to spend some quality time in the privy, then find my gate and have a yogurt and granola breakfast.  Our “morning snack” on the flight was only good for the Tilamook cheese and a small yogurt so at least I felt I had something close to oatmeal. 

I hope the hotel breakfast offers oatmeal!

Second leg from Amsterdam to Kigali, Rwanda was also about 7 hours.  Sat in 15A next to a Bioengineering undergraduate major from Texas A&M who was on her way with a group of fellow Aggies to Rwanda to spend the first month taking classes (mostly language classes) and then some others about the biomes machines they were there to install, repair and train the Rwandans to use.  All of us, about half the flight, that are continuing to Entebbe airport in Uganda are staying on the plane for the 1 hour layover here.  Which is when I am now starting this diary.  I left my young Aggie friend with the admonition to “Have fun, Pay attention, go save lives, and change the world!”

That’s it for now.  Just chilling and writing and waiting for our new fellow travelers to board and get on our way to Uganda!

Man, I need to get this autocorrect under control.  It had that poor girl going out to save olives!

Last leg was a short one.  Stayed in the same seat, and this time my companion was a woman from Rwanda named Connie who was on her way to Toronto for her youngest son’s High School Graduation.  They had lived there for some time and both her son and older daughter stayed on.  All we got was a Dutch cookie with caramel/fudge inside and then we were landing.

Took a LONG time to get my SIM card at the airport.  I also changed $60 and got back $250,000 Uganda shillings (UGX)!  This money is like when we were in Turkey ~25 years ago: a crazy exchange rate!  Anyway, buy the time I got done with the SIM card the everyone else had gone through customs so there was no one around, but of course they had to unpack my suitcase.  No idea what they thought they saw on the X-ray.  When I finally got outside to meet the person with the sign with my name on it, they had almost given up on me thinking I had missed the flight, since everyone else had come out and left.  Glad they waited.  Apparently the Hotel pays them for the ride, but I tipped them.  100,000 UGX, as it was the smallest bill I had.  I think that was about $25.  I tipped the bellhop the same, but told him he had to take extra special care of me all week for that.

Hope to be able to use the Samsung phone to call the US tomorrow, but for now just called Jeri using WhatsApp on wifi.  The Samsung will be quite useful just locally in any case.  Unpacking and off to bed now.  12:35 AM Monday morning.  Up and to breakfast by 8 am, meeting Derek here at 9 am and off to the UBC.  

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