Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three of the Big Five

Theodore Roosevelt in Africa, 1909.  Edward Van Altena/Library of Congress. Via.
The phrase Big Five game was coined by white hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. The term is still used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife safaris. The collection consists of lion, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, leopard and the rhinoceros. The members of the big five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size. [via]

Even though it is an antiquated hunting term (and we clearly are not hunters), it's still pretty cool to say "I've seen three of the Big Five!"  At Queen Elizabeth National Park last weekend we saw ...

1) Elephants

2) Cape buffalo


QENP is also home to leopards but they are exceedingly hard to see.   Rhinos are found in another part of the country all together - guess I won't get a photo op like TR any time soon.  But hey, I've seen three of the Big Five!

All photos - except the one of Teddy Roosevelt - by Oh MG.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


On our first full day in Queen Elizabeth we got up early to track chimpanzees in the rainforest of Kyambura Gorge.  Spanning 16 km, Kyambura is home to many primates, as well as hippos, forest elephants, and many millipedes (note: they look like snakes).  Photos by Oh MG and Elizabeth Eckel.

Once we descended into the gorge it was pretty terrifying.  Below Leigh and I react after thinking we saw a snake (it was a millipede).  We also witnessed a baboon turf fight (when baboons scream it literally sounds like someone is being murdered), saw hippos very close to the shore, had to cross a river infested with crazy parasites, and heard a forrest elephant crashing through a nearby thicket.  No really, it was fun though.

As we tracked the chimps we looked for signs that they had recently been in the area.  A telling clue: freshly eaten chimp food.

Finally we found a group of chimps!  In all we saw about six adults and an eight year old.  They were just hanging out up in the trees and at one point there was showdown with black-and-white colobus monkeys whom the chimpanzees like to hunt.  We did not witness any bloodshed however.

Continuing to look up at the chimps.  Tis hard on the neck after a while.

All smiles after surviving our trip down Kyambura.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Queen Elizabeth National Park!

From Friday to Sunday we ventured to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari adventure.  Some posts on our trip highlights to come throughout the week.

Searching for lions!

One of my favorite shots - elephant crossing!

Things I am Liking Today

It's amazing the distraction than can arise when one should be transcribing 60 minute long interviews.  A few things that caught my eye today ...

This magazine house by MAGAZIN via Swiss Miss.

Glastonbury style via Honestly...WTF.  Love the Hunters of course, and this little outfit could also practically double as safari wear.

See also this Design*Sponge beach house sneak peak, this out of control ping pong game, and this recipe.

Moms and Babies

Spotted at Queen Elizabeth National Park ...

Mom hippo and baby hippo

Mom cape buffalo and baby cape buffalo

Mom water buck and baby water buck

More to come but I don't even know where to start!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Week in Review #21

Woot, it's Friday!  We are taking off early today for Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Hope to see you back here on Monday with photos of elephants and lions and hippos.  Below, an awesome group of kids that we encountered in front of our house.  We happened to be walking home at the same time school got out, quite a busy time in our neighborhood.

Have a great weekend!

Here the same group as above rush toward me after realizing I have a camera.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Workin' It

Work has been going very well this week.  Of course collecting data is the easy part, analyzing it is a different story.  It should be interesting once I have 23 transcripts to look at.  So far I have really enjoyed both heading out into the field and working from RHSP headquarters.  I am definitely getting spoiled working from here though, who can argue with an open-air office?  (See bottom photo.)  The in-depth interviews should be wrapping up soon - next order of business: planning for patient focus groups.

One of the wards at the government health clinic in Kakuuto.

View from the back of a project vehicle as we drive from clinic to clinic.

With Dr. James Ssenkunja at the RHSP HIV clinic in Kyebe.

Hard at work in the banda - our open-air office.
Photo by Leigh Bernstein.

Summer Cocktails

Photo by Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
This feature in The New York Times is making me crave a good summer cocktail – something we certainly don’t have here in Uganda.  So far this summer, it’s just a Nile Special or two on the weekends.  While the Live Basil Gimlet (pictured above) looks to die for, two of my favorite drinks from summer’s past are below.

Summer in a Glass – created on glorious day at Copake Lake in summer 2009, this gem combines equal parts spiced rum, light rum, and vanilla cream soda, plus tons of fresh lime to taste.  Try it out at your next summer barbecue.
Photo by Oh MG

Frozen  Glögg – Thank you to Mary Paschen for introducing me to this phenomenon last summer.  Yes, it’s a frozen glögg slushie, or glushie if you will.  If you are in Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago I highly recommend picking one up.
Photo by Mary Paschen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dressmaker, Dressmaker, Make me a Dress

This morning I was in the field again with the Qualitative Research Team.  We traveled on a very bumpy road to the farthest clinic hub on the shores of Lake Victoria.  After arriving back in Kalisizo and meeting up with Elizabeth, Leigh, and Rachel, our co-worker Josephine took us into town for a visit to the dressmaker.  In a few weeks we'll have new dresses!

Getting fitted by Betty the dressmaker.

Selecting the perfect pattern - or in our case mixing and matching and asking if we could get the skirts shorter.  I choose a dress and everyone else went with separates.

The fabric choices.  I decided to order two things and went with black and white for a dress and the pattern on top for a skirt.

The dressmaking team fitting Rachel.  Photos of the finished products to follow in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slim Aarons Does Masaka

Relaxing at The Tropic Inn, Masaka, 18 June 2011.  It's a 30 minute drive away and at 5,000 Ugandan shillings ($2.05), admission is a steal.

Photo by Oh MG.

Photo by Slim Aarons, via.

Photo by Slim Aarons, via.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Week in Review #20

We arrived home for lunch the other day to find this guy on the porch.  Later we jokingly asked if that was dinner and Teo, the manager of the guest house, simply said "Yes, chicken stew for dinner."  Quite a change from simply buying boneless, skinless chicken breast at the store - Michael Pollan would be proud.  Incidentally, the stew was quite delicious.

Chicken --> Dinner

In non-food news, earlier today we visited a rural health clinic in order to interview field staff about their experiences with the new clinic structure.  It's exciting to have the interview guide I developed being used to collect data.  So far I have conducted two in-depth interviews and the Qualitative Research Team has done another five, that means 12 more to go plus four focus groups.  For now though, I think we're all glad it's the weekend.  Tomorrow we are heading into Masaka to check out a rumored pool followed by an outing with our co-workers.  We're staying local until our big outing to Queen Elizabeth National Park next weekend.  Have a good one!

Government Health Clinic - Kibaale

Our New Friends

Among all the little kids who live in Kalisizo we are quite the celebrities.  Mzungu is the Luganda word for non-African person and everywhere we walk children of all ages greet us with a chorus of "Hello mzungu"' "How are you mzungu?" "Good evening mzungu!" or just "Mzungu, mzungu, mzungu!"  The little ones are especially enthralled.  When we go for evening jogs we are often trailed by a group of kids or little ones will cheer us on the side of road and give us high fives as we go by.  Walking home for lunch the other day we encountered this trio heading home from school as well as a sports group that was just thrilled to hang out with Leigh.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Staying Connected

Even though I am far away in Uganda, I have enough internet access to stay connected.  While I am not keeping up regularly with my Google Reader, I do check out my favorite blogs every now and then.  Below, some things on the internet that have made me smile lately.

This photo from The Sartorialist.  I adore the summer knits and sunglasses both gals are rocking.  Also, this made me realize that I actually miss my white Converses ... such a great summer shoe.
via The Sartorialist

Since JM and I are reuniting in Amsterdam and then heading to Paris later in the summer, I've been addicted to looking at studio apartment rentals for the trip.  I spotted the property below on 
Haven in Paris.  Way out of our price range, but fun to browse!  I want to go to there.

via Haven In Paris
This very fun feature on Famous People Hanging out with Their Vinyl.  Makes me wish I had a record player back home.
Lastly, today I enjoyed my pal Lauren's dinner party post over on Gatsby & Glitter.  Not a lot of wine & cheese to be found here in Uganda, but I'll get enough of that in Paris later in the summer.
via Gatsby & Glitter via Uncommon Goods

Everything Looks Better in PowerPoint

Today Elizabeth, Leigh, Rachel, and I presented our project plans to the management team of the Rakai Health Sciences Program.  The team includes some of the preeminent researchers behind pioneering HIV/AIDS research in Uganda - like this, and this, and all of this.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.  Luckily, everything looks better in PowerPoint! Actually though, the meeting went well and our work is underway.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lake Mburo National Park

We got up early on Saturday morning to head to Lake Mburo National Park.  This is a relatively quiet park, since tourists generally head to the larger ones like Queen Elizabeth, and it was fantastic to explore.  Visitors used to have more free reign over their where they went, but a few years ago someone was mauled by a offended water buffalo so you can't walk anywhere without an armed ranger.  Even though we did indeed see a water buffalo, we lived to tell the tale.  All photos by Oh MG.

Godfrey, our trusty tour guide, surveying the grasslands during our hike.  We literally just pulled over to the side of the road and started walking through the field.

Spotted while walking: ZEBRAS!  They aren't scared of humans and just stop eating and stare at you as you approach.  Mbruo is the only national park in Uganda that is home to zebras.

Hiking up a huge grassy hill.

The four of us at the top.  Please excuse the mom outfits.

View of the park from the top.  Using binoculars we were able to spot zebras and a herd of impalas.

Lake Mburo itself.  It was a cloudy day, not great for photos, but great for hiking.

At left, a trail made by a hippo when lumbering through the grass.  At right, an actual hippo wallowing in a marsh.

Two of the many warthogs we came across.  They are quite cute and have a tendency to run through tall grass with their tails straight up.

An impala.

A water buffalo.  After snapping this photo we quickly drove off since we didn't want to risk offending him.  Pretty badass.