Friday, July 29, 2011

Week in Review #26

via, via, via

We only have one more week left in Kalisizo! This weekend we are hanging around town tying up loose ends (like putting in some final orders at the dressmaker) and will also make a trip to the pool.  Sunday will be a work day in preparation for our final presentations to the management team on Tuesday morning.  Though I’ve been busy this week, I managed to bookmark a few of my favorite blog posts from here and there. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Check out this chart on Tomboy Style.  If I dressed that well I’d aim for The American or The Import categories.

Where to even begin with this one … first I have a stop at Omnivore Books at the top of my list of things to do next time I’m in the Bay Area, second check out this story of a couple getting engaged there.

Love this house & studio.

So excited that Anna Spiro opened her online store. One day I hope to go to her real store in Brisbane, Australia.

It’s been a while since a The Hunger Games casting update, see Peeta and Gale.

On the heels of Design*Sponge’s Oakland guide, check out this awesome Oakland loft.

Backpacks seem to be everywhere these days. Even though I have one from Brooklyn Industries, I feel like a total nerd wearing it.  Maybe I’ll try again this fall.

The Olsens are all over this week, check out their t-shirts ($29.99!) and this casual outfit (I have those shoes!) accompanied by an outrageous bag.

When I get back to New York I’ll be making tons of smoothies, this one looks delicious.

Face of the Week

Here is our new friend Imay.  When we first met her she was very interested in Elizabeth's glasses and just had to try them on.

Photos by Oh MG.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When in Zanzibar ...

It just so happens that in two weeks I will be on the island of Zanzibar.  How apt that today Honestly WTF should feature a little place called The Rock Restaurant.  I just might have to check it out.
Via Honestly WTF via

It Was Interesting ...

After spotting this t-shirt a few weeks ago, our stock response to basically every question asked is "it was interesting."  It kind of works, because things have indeed been interesting in Uganda - fishermen and all.

When I grabbed the the interesting photo over at Rachel's blog, I realized I should feature some of the awesome photos she has taken lately.  The bad news of the summer is that Rachel's original camera broke three weeks into the trip.  The good news is that she was able to order a super cool new one with an amazing zoom and have it brought to Uganda by a visiting researcher.  Below, some shots from Rwanda.

THE GORILLAS!  Even though I didn't go on this excursion (in favor of this little trip), I basically feel like I did because of these amazing photos.  Yes, they were just chilling with a family of gorillas, moms, dads, twin babies!

Hey gorilla friend.

View of fields.

The outskirts of Kigali.

All photos by Rachel Gruver.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jumping in Jinja

Somehow rafting through Class 5+ rapids on the Nile just wasn't enough of an adventure for some of us! Though I had absolutely no interest in bungee jumping (had a little issue with a very high zip line last year), I was very happy to cheer Rachel on.

Here Rachel and Moses take the plunge...

Moses hanging out above the Nile ...

Leigh and I cheer on from the viewing deck.

Video Oh MG.  Photos courtesy of R. Gruver.

D*S Does Oakland

Photo via
I was very excited to see my hometown of Oakland, California featured on Design*Sponge today.  Check it out!  Since it's been 9 years since I've lived there, a lot of the places are new to me, but I can attest to the wonders of some of the places mentioned, including Fenton's, Urban Indigo, Wood Tavern,  and Mountain View Cemetery (where I learned how to drive).  BTW, I have never heard of the neighborhood Paradise Park.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Return to Jinja

We are back from our last weekend trip of the summer!  On Friday we packed it up and headed north to Jinja (it was the first time we had been in the northern hemisphere since June 7th) with our co-workers Anthony, Herbert, and Moses.  We were once again happy to stay at the Nile River Explorers Campsite with its stunning views of the river, open-air showers, and safari tents.  This weekend the campsite also happened to be full of drunken Brits who partied late into the night, but we were having so much fun it didn't matter.

On Saturday, Rachel, Leigh, and I went white water rafting again.  This time around we brought our co-worker Anthony who was born and raised in Uganda but had never been on the river before.  A wild time was had by all - photos to come later this week.

Our weekend crew at the campsite.

The safari tents, or as Elizabeth termed them "Harry Potter tents," that we stayed in.  It's awesome to wake up to the sound of the Nile rushing by.

I know I've posted a very similar photo to this before, but I just can't get over Showers with a View!  They are ice cold, but so worth it!

On Sunday another adventure was embarked upon ... hint below.  I did not partake of said adventure, but I cheered very loudly from the viewing deck.

Photos by Oh MG.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Week in Review #25

Enjoying breakfast (and the view) on the balcony of the Step Town Motel, Kigali, Rwanda.
How is it time for another Week in Review?  The summer is going by so fast!  Two weeks from today will be our last day at the Rakai Health Sciences Program.  Until then we'll be working furiously during the week and cramming in as much fun as possible on the weekends.  Later today we are heading back to Jinja, this time with a group of coworkers.  Road trip!

On to the MOST IMPORTANT announcement of the day: Happy Birthday JM!  Cannot wait to see you in a few weeks.  XOXO

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rwanda Part III - Kigali

On Saturday morning (after 12 hours of sleep necessitated by my big hike), we left Ruhengeri and headed to the capital city of Kigali.  Once again we drove through a beautiful mountain range with fantastic views.

Upon arrival in Kigali we went straight to the Genocide Memorial Center & Museum.  It was important to all of us that we get a chance to learn about the event and its history.  The center is made up of extensive memorial gardens as well as a museum detailing the history of Rwanda from the pre-colonial times to the colonial era under Germany and Belgium, and then from the post-colonial rule through the 1994 genocide.

The memorial gardens are home to tombs where 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried.  Mass graves are being discovered to this day and bodies are still being interred here.

While I knew about some aspects of the genocide, the museum gave a in-depth chronicle of the political factors leading up to it and the horrors of the event itself.  While Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan now say that not interfering in Rwanda (and in Annan's case ignoring a telegram from General Romeo Dallaire that warned of the genocide) are some of their biggest regrets, it is so hard to fathom the failure of the international community to intervene.  The whole visit was emotionally exhausting but so necessary in beginning to comprehend what occurred.  I am planning on reading more about the events, starting with Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil.  Below, photos of some of the one million victims of the genocide.

After nearly three hours at the memorial we went on a short tour of the city.  As we had heard from many people, Kigali is very modern and well-designed with lots of new buildings and fantastic infrastructure.  This is due in part to the to the huge amount of international investment that has poured in since 1994, and to the government's commitment to re-building and modernizing.  Here is the view of downtown from the memorial garden.

In all, our trip to Rwanda was exciting (hello Mt. Bisoke) and eye-opening.  One day I would love to return for more than four days and explore the rest of the country.  Below, as seen on our city tour, Hotel Mille Collines - the real Hotel Rwanda.

Photos by Oh MG.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Olina Omwana Mulungi

Olina Omwana Mulungi means "you have a beautiful baby" in Luganda.  There are lots of beautiful babies around, so it's a good thing to know how to say to moms.  It wasn't until this week though that we got to hold some of the babies.  We were back at the dressmaker (where else do we hang out?!) and some neighborhood mothers let us hold Caretan, below left with Leigh, and Shannon, below right with me.  Note that Shannon is wearing a headband fashioned from the left over fabric of the new skirt I am wearing.  Matching!

And here is a video of some other new friends demonstrating their counting skills for me.  Great job!

Photos by Rachel Gruver.

Rwanda Part II - Mt. Bisoke (Slowly, Slowly, Hakuna Matata)

Where to begin with my Mt. Bisoke adventure? Well, at 6:00 AM on Friday, July 15th, Gerald our tour guide picked us up from the hotel and drove us to the visitors' center in Parc National des Volcans.  The park is where Dian Fossey lived and researched mountain gorillas and is home to parts of the Virunga Mountain range, a series of six extinct and two active volcanoes.  Elizabeth, Leigh, and Rachel were there to visit the gorillas - a very exciting endeavor that requires a hard to secure permit - while I opted to hike one of the Virungas, Mt. Bisoke.  When I signed up for the hike I inquired about the level of difficulty and the rangers just said, "if you're fit you'll be fine and we'll have you back at your hotel by 3:30 PM." Not an entirely ringing endorsement of my ability to make it to the summit.

View of some of the Virunga Mountain range and the fields we walked through to get to the trailhead.

At 7:15 AM my hiking group (an Austrian couple, a British couple, a German guy, and me) left the visitors' center and drove 45 minutes to the foot of Mt. Bisoke.  We parked at an altitude of 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) and proceded on what I thought would be a short walk to the trailhead (it was an hour).  We left the parking area with our ranger Ignatius, five armed and camouflage-clad rangers, and two porters.  Before we left, Ignatius encouraged us to hire the porters to carry our backpacks, but we declined.  The fact that the porters decided to come along anyway would prove to be very important later on.
View of Bisoke from where we parked.

The trailhead itself started at the altitude of 2,967 meters (9,734 feet).  Yes, we gained two thousand feet before even making it to the trailhead.  Below is what much of the early part of the trail looked like, leafy and green.

And here is what most of the rest of the trail looked like.  You might be thinking, wait, that's not a trail, it's a very steep and muddy incline.  Indeed it was.  In fact it was incredibly steep and nearly impossible for me to climb.  After realizing that the majority of the trail would be this difficult one of the group members cried.  No tears for me, but after gasping for breath and attempting to scramble up the mountain, I did wonder what on earth I had gotten myself into.

Enter January, the intrepid porter, who saved me and ensured that I made it to the summit.  When he noticed me struggling he came over, literally took my backpack off my back, and pulled me up the mountain.  For the rest of the hike he would climb one or two strides in front of me and then reach down and pull me up.  Even with this expert help I needed to take breaks approximately every three minutes.  There was a bit of a language barrier between us, but the one thing he said repeatedly was, "slowly, slowly, hakuna matata."  After a while we would just say that back and forth to each other.  Thank goodness for January (pictured below picking some berries for me to eat).

After three hours and ten minutes, and many moments of wondering if I would make it, we arrived at the top.  Elevation 3,711 meters (12,175 feet).  Mt. Bisoke is home to the largest crater lake of any of the Virunga Mountains - hence the no swimming sign.

Here we are getting some much needed rest at the summit.  Mt. Bisoke straddles Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so we were absolutely forbidden from wandering around the summit - we went up from the Rwanda side and would go down on the Rwanda side.

Ignatius and the whole hiking group.  The Austrians and German made it up in two and a half hours, while the Brits and I lagged behind by about 45 minutes.

Left, the view down into the national park from the summit.  Right, me and January!  He also saved me on the way down by catching me when I slid down the slippery and uneven trail.  Slowly, slowly, hakuna matata.  The porter fee and a hefty tip were well worth it!
Beginning the trek down.  In many ways it was just as hard as the way up because you constantly had to watch your footing and the steepness made it very hard on the knees.  I was able enjoy the view more though.

View across the park to Mt. Sabyinyo, which at 3,674 meters is just a bit smaller than Mt. Bisoke.

Exhausted and aching, we made it back to the cars in two and half hours.  When I met back up with everyone at the hotel they kept asking if I was glad I had climbed Bisoke.  I said the view was beautiful, but in all truthfulness, I did not enjoy one minute of getting up there.  No matter what though, at least I can now say, I climbed Mt. Bisoke!  And really, I might never be in Parc National des Volcans again, so I'm glad I experienced part of it.

Lastly, in honor of my friend January, I'll leave you with Hakuna Matata.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rwanda Part I - Getting There

On Thursday morning we took off with our driver Abu on a familiar route: departing from Kalisizo and driving north to the Masaka-Mbarrara road and then west to Kabale (the town near the infamous Lake Bunyonyi).  Once in Kabale we had lunch at The Little Ritz in Africa and then continued west toward the Rwandan border crossing at Kisoro.

Here we are at a vista point overlooking the western tip of Lake Bunyoni.  We thought we were high up at this point ... little did we know we'd be going over some serious mountains where a highway widening project was in full effect.

The aforementioned highway widening project in the mountains above Kisoro.  It was very interesting driving on an unpaved surface with tractors reaching across the road and clearing massive amounts of earth every now and then.

View from Uganda of the Virunga mountain range in Rwanda and the DRC.  Mt. Muhabura is the tallest mountain in the distance.  The day after our arrival I climbed Mt. Bisoke.

After arriving in Kisoro we had some trouble finding the actual border crossing and some children took the opportunity to come say hi.

After six hours in the car and 208 miles, we made it to the border, presented our passports, and walked on into Rwanda.  It was the easiest border crossing I'd ever experienced since it wasn't crowded and Americans don't need visas to enter Rwanda.  Also, I had never crossed a border on foot before - pretty nice.  We soon met up with our tour guide, Gerald, who drove 20 km to the town of Ruhengeri where we would stay for two nights.  The next day I hiked Bisoke and Elizabeth, Leigh, and Rachel hung out with gorillas!  More on that tomorrow.

Photos by Oh MG.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Focus Group, Focus Group, Focus Group at Lunch

This morning the Qualitative Research Team conducted the last focus groups for my project.  Data collection is done!  Above is the women's focus group that we facilitated outside one of the clinics.  Even though I couldn't understand what was being said (the moderator conducted the group in Luganda), I was glad to observe and see the question guide I created in action.  Now it's crunch time and I have to analyze all my data and write up my results.  Three weeks to go!  Below, all the bikes that patients rode to the clinic today.

Photos by Oh MG.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week in Review #24 - Rwanda Edition

We are back from a fantastic 4-day weekend in Rwanda.  Our first stop was the town of Ruhengeri and the Parc National des Volcans.  While Elizabeth, Leigh, and Rachel trekked through the forrest to find mountain gorillas, I climbed Mt. Bisoke.  Yes, Bisoke is an extinct volcano that is 3,711 meters (12,175 ft) high.  No, I was not really in the best shape to do such a hike.  Yes, I repeatedly wondered what I had gotten myself into.  BUT, it was absolutely gorgeous once I made it up there and saw the crater lake at the top.  Separate posts on the whole adventure and our stop in the capital of Kigali will come later this week.  Hope you are having a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jambo Mukwano

We continue to be celebrities among the children in town.  No matter how many times a day they see us they yell "hi mzungu, hi mzungu, hi mzungu, hi mzungu!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  We have decided to reply with "jambo mukwano, jambo mukwano, jambo mukwano, jambo mukwano!!!" which means "Hello Friend!"  They get a kick out of it.
Elizabeth shows some of our mukwanos the photo she took of them.
In town this weekend we ran into some of the kids who go to school near our house.
Some new friends we met at the produce market.
Photos by Oh MG.