Downspouts Can’t Keep Us Down!

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While yesterday work seemed to move smoothly with the completion of the three tanks, today work was a bit rougher. Now that we had the tanks and the gutters up, we were trying to put up the PVC pipes that would take the rainwater to the storage tanks. First we had to create the downspouts, which connects the gutters to the pipes. This turned out to be harder than expected, and it took us until lunch to make the first one.  Luckily though, after making one, it became easy (for Julius) to make the rest and we got them made and installed by the end of the day.

On the way to lunch though, we had another memorable moment. We decided to take some Boda-Bodas to the restaurant in town. Boda-Bodas are pretty much bicycle taxis that have an extra passenger seat on the back of them. So while we making our way to town, Bethany’s skirt got caught in the bicycle spoke! The “driver” had to stop, and another man had to cut a patch out of the bottom of her skirt’s outer lining to get her loose! Luckily  Bethany, except for some embarrassment, was perfectly fine. But from there Bethany decided that it would probably be best for her to walk the rest of the way.

Today we made an important decision: Instead of our daily trek to Marisa Fast Foods for lunch, we were going to try Sipi Falls Cafe. It was about time too, because we have been eating at the same three places in Soroti since we reached, and it was really nice to have a little diversity. Though when our orders were being taken, diversity was not on our minds. They only had one menu item available, which was the chicken. They didn’t even have “Chicken Oriental”—just plain chicken. So we ended up with four plates of chicken and fries. It was good though, so I’m not complaining! Another exciting thing about the restaurant is that our food came in less than ten minutes, instead of the usual 30-40! I just hope it’s not because there was only one thing on the menu. lol

So after lunch, we kept on working and, as I mentioned before, made good progress with the downspouts. I was able to sneak away for some of the time though, because I have been working this week with one of the students, Baker, on a project. Baker wants to be a journalist and had asked me on Sunday to teach him how to edit videos. Luckily, I had taken a TV production class and I’m able to do him one better. I’m showing him how to put together a news segment. So this week we have gone over the basics, written a script, done some filming, and got some interviews. Right now we are working on editing all of it and putting it all together. Hopefully, we’ll have it all finished in a couple of days.

My personal favorite part of the day was a soccer match the students were playing in. It was the students who came from one district (which includes Soroti and Tabur) versus the students from another one (which includes Orungo and Usuk). All the students who were not playing were watching the game, and they were really into it. There was constant cheering throughout the game, and whenever there was a save by the goalie or even a goal, the kids went crazy. They would start screaming, jumping up and down, rolling on the grass, and just running around the field in celebration. It was so fun to be there with them and not only watch the impressive play, but feel the excitement and intensity the students had for the game. The cutest part was that at the end of the game, the winning team got a “trophy” which was a large water bottle decorated with paper and made to look like the World Cup trophy. The winning students ran around the field holding the trophy high in the air!

Tomorrow is our day off, and I think we are all looking forward to getting  a chance to relax and explore more of Soroti, and maybe even do some shopping. So we’ll be sure to keep you updated on all of the adventures we have tomorrow!

The installed taps

The Trophy Cup -- er, Water Bottle!

Football fans, camera fans, muzungu fans

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Hi everyone! It’s Rohan here with my first post. Sorry we missed updating the blog yesterday. We’ve had a very adventurous but exhausting two days, and we just didn’t have the energy to blog last night. But I’ll be filling all of you in on what happened yesterday, and then you can read David’s post for today.

So yesteday, we left Kampala for Soroti where we will be spending the next three or so weeks. First though, we had a couple of stops to make on the way. The first was to meet with Julia of EarthWise Ventures. They are a business that is working to create a fleet of ferries and freight ferries on Lake Victoria that will travel from Uganda to Tanzania. Their first ferry actually launched this week! The reason that we have been talking with them is that they are also interested in Jatropha. Jatropha is a weed that is found in Uganda and whose oil can be used to run our MFPs (or in the cause of EarthWise, their ferries). We want to encourage the villagers to grow Jatropha and extract the oil to use for their engines, as it is much cheaper than diesel. Also, they could sell any extra oil to other people. The problem is convincing the farmers to give up some of their fertile land for a weed that they usually try to get rid of. It’s made even harder by the fact that the farmers have been burnt in the past by other groups, who told them to switch to another crop, but never ended up buying the harvest. Fortunately, EarthWise has promised to buy any Jatropha that the farmers grow. On a fun note, at the EarthWise offices we got to meet a group of children who had brought along a litter of puppies with them. Allison taught them (and us too) how to make a bird call/whistle.

So from EarthWise we headed north to Jinja, which used to be the financial capital of Uganda. On our way we got to see huge tea and sugarcane plantations, along with the amazing Ugandan nature. We then reached Jinja and after lunch, we went to see the source of the Nile River and Lake Victoria, which was beautiful. We went down to the river and hired a boat to take us to the very source of the Nile. On our way we passed an island next to the source that was full of awesome wildlife. We saw a huge monitor lizard and a tree full of Cormorants. Apparently their droppings are very white, and sure enough under the tree the plants looked more white than green. There were a lot of Piety Kingfishers that we got to see dive into the water, looking for fish to eat. The most interesting part of the island was two small huts. Apparently, these huts were built by witch doctors for the spirits of the Nile. The guide told us that the witch doctors never come to the island in a motorboat like ours, but instead paddle over so that they don’t scare the spirits away.

We finally reached the source of the Nile, which is an underwater spring that spews out 4,000 liters of water per second! It takes the water a full three months to make its way through the Nile.  There is also a large concrete block that marks the very beginning of the Nile, or as they call it the “zero point”. To get there you had to carefully walk on some rocks that were jutting out of the river and make your way to the very tiny island that the block was on. Harrison led the way, and I followed with the rest behind us. When we reached the island, we saw that the block had literally hundreds if not thousands of ants on it, marching in lines over the block. Seeing that, Harrison and I decided that climbing the block may not be the best of ideas. Instead, we went around it and climbed over some steep and rocky boulders to get to the top. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of ants on these boulders too, along with a tree that was literally swarming with the ants! Finally, Harrison made it up the zero point block. I had to stop for a minute as I tried to find where the next foothole was, but I finally made it up. Apparently, I had been pressing against one of the ant infested boulders, because when I got up there, Harrison started screaming, “Oh my god, oh my god!!” At the same time he was hysterically laughing, so I thought he was just trying to scare me. Turns out that while take the minute to find a foothole, A LOT of ants had crawled on my back. Harrison told me that my back was literally covered by them. When I found this out, I completely freaked out. I started yelling at Harrison to swat them off my back, but he was too busy laughing to do anything! Eventually, he told me to stand still . . . so he could take a picture! After that was done, he finally swatted them off my back.

Then when the rest of the team was climbing, David ended up stuck at the same place I was. We warned him not to touch the tree, but of course this just confused David, and he ended up leaning his head against the tree. Soon he was furiously combing his hair with his hands trying to get all the ants out. That span of five or so minutes was by far just the craziest yet most hilarious moment of this trip. I promise though that we will post Harrison’s video of the moment (yeah, he decided he had enough time to take a video instead of a picture) when we return. We can’t here in Uganda, because it would take too much of a toll on our internet access which goes by data usage. You’ll see the utter chaos, and horror I may add, of the moment. I still can’t watch that video without cringing.

After that crazy experience, our trip to the source of the Nile was over, and we headed back to our cars to continue our journey. On our way to Soroti, some stretches of the road were absolutely horrible and filled with potholes! You couldn’t avoid them. One of them even popped the tire of Edwards’s car that he, Bethany, and I were in. So the three of us ended up having to change a tire on the side of a highway, at night, in the middle of Uganda. That’s something I’m proud to say I’ve done!

Finally we entered Soroti at and reached Golden Ark, the guesthouse we are staying at. It’s a good place to stay at if you ever find yourself in town. The rooms are nice, the food is good, and the people are very friendly. (I promise I’m not getting paid to say that!) I’m really looking forward to spending the next three weeks here. We’ll make sure to keep you updated on all of our, hopefully ant-free, adventures in Soroti!