Karibu Karagwe, Wanafunzi!

by Amizade Global Service-Learning

After a long week in Kampala it was time to return to Karagwe. We picked Isabel up from the airport Saturday night and planned on leaving Verona Sunday at 8 a.m. So we left Verona Hotel at 9 after our 7 a.m. breakfast arrived at 8:15; this wasn’t the only meal that was served late while staying at Verona. We then journeyed to the bus park in downtown Kampala with a private driver. This made more sense because we had all of the students luggage and trying to get public transport would have been extremely difficult, and time consuming.

The bus park was very chaotic and there were many bus drivers who wanted to take the Wazungu on their bus. Men were just grabbing our luggage and directing us to follow them to their bus and I made sure to not lose sight of any of the bags. One man punched another in the buttox because he didn’t usher us to get us on his bus. Picture 25-30 Coach sized busses crammed in a parking lot 40×40 meters. After traipsing through the mud we loaded one bus to then unload minutes later. The reason was the bus wasn’t full so we wouldn’t leave until it was full which might be in 10 minutes or 2 hours. So, we jumped on a LINK bus as it was pulling out of its parking space at about 1 mph. This bus was full now that we were on it. We got the last row where there were 5 open seats. This would be a more comfortable ride than Caitlin and I had experienced a week earlier. We left the bus park and got gas at a local station and we were on our way to the border town of Mutukula.

After about an hour on the road our bus pulled over to the side of the road and we found out that it had broken down. We were told that a new bus would arrive soon since we weren’t far from Kampala. 20 minutes later we were told that they might send a mechanic to fix the broken down bus. An hour later we were told that a new bus was on its way to pick us up soon… In the mean time we napped and attempted to call Pascali who was to meet us at Mutukul at 2 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any minutes left on the phone. Luckily a man offered to call his friend in Kampala who would then purchase a voucher and read the 14 digit code over the phone to us so we could then enter it on our phone. We would then pay the man the equivalent for the voucher and he would pay his friend when he saw him another time. The plan worked and we were able to call Pascali to inform him that we would not be at the border at 2p.m.

After waiting 3 hours the new bus arrived and Caitlin and Sarah loaded it with our luggage. Isabel, Carly and I had walked 20 minutes up the road to fetch more water and food. When we got back to the bus they were just about to pull away to come pick us up in the little town, close call. We were now one our way to Mutukula which was about 45 miles away.

After another hour of driving our new bus broke down in Masaka and we waited for about 45 minutes until the bus was fixed. We finally arrived at the border town of Mutukula at 5:20 p.m. where we were greeted by our private driver, Pascali. We expected to be in Kayanga by now but such is African travel. He loaded our luggage into the back of his Land rover SUV and after getting our passports stamped at the border we were back in TANZANIA and on our way to our final destination.

The rest of our trip would be on a dirt road with thousands of potholes. We made the 1600 meter ascension back into Kayanga town, Karagwe around 7:45 p.m. Once there we had a meal at a local restaurant and checked into our new home at Misha Guest House and were eager to sleep after our LONG day of travel.

The next morning we had breakfast at Misha and took the students into Kayanga town to explore a bit. The walks to Kayanga town takes about 20-25 minutes at a leisurely pace, and trust me the equatorial sun forces you to walk at a leisurely pace. One of our first orders of business was to purchase cell phones and sim cards for the students. This was quite successful although time consuming. While the ladies were occupied Simeon (our friend) and I went to find bottled water to purchase and transport back to Misaha. While staying at Misha we will used bottled water as trying to boil the limited supply is time consuming and more of a hassle than not.

After a nice day in Kayanga town the students and I had our first Swahili language class from 5-7 in the evening. Our teacher has taught for the program in the past so she is accustomed to American students. Class is nice because there are only four of us so we get a lot of attention which is important especially when taking a language. We will be in class for two hours a day every day in September. October we will not have any class because our teacher is proctoring the national exams for secondary school so she will be unavailable to teach. Come November we will have class 3 days a week for 2 hours to freshen up for our final exam.

At this point the students have met with Caitlin and I to discuss our expectations for each of our classes. Starting next week they will be very busy balancing their classwork and their volunteer placements. We hope the students can teach at a local school for two days and volunteer at a local NGO three days per week. They seem very eager to get started which we are very happy about.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for 4 weeks and the semester is under way and we are half-way through September. The Phillies have clinched a playoff spot and the Eagles won the season opener. Thanks to Sean for keeping me updated via text while our internet has been hit or miss. We hope you continue to follow our adventure and feel free to comment on our posts.

Hope all is well wherever you may be!