If someone said to you that it is the rainy season in Africa, what would you imagine? Well before coming to Uganda for the first time in the summer of 2011, I would have envisioned torrential rains that didn’t stop for a whole season and you would just have to learn to be wet all the time and live in the midst of mud. But, so far that is not what I’ve seen in Uganda, until today. In Summer 2011 it was the dry season so obviously I didn’t experience this type of rains. Last fall and this fall, although it is called the rainy season, it is more like our Florida rains where it will rain hard for a short time and then the sun comes out and dries everything up.
As you drive through town, though, both in Masindi and Kampala, it is clear that there are large rain gutters and ditches meant to collect and direct water away from the roads so I’ve been wondering if it really does rain like crazy sometimes. So, as you have guessed it, today we found out that, yes, the rain can be so bad that it really disrupts everyday business. When we woke up, it was overcast with dark clouds rolling in but by about 8:30 when we were heading out, the rain clouds broke loose and boy did it rain. The plan for today was to go to to 3 rural village health clinics to get a better idea what kind of data they collect on patients so that I can better plan a research project to help The Water Trust assess the impact of their programs of the health of their partner communities. But, we were to meet the district biostatician at 9am to head out but he got stuck in the rain and had to pull over to wait out the rain. Like many people around here, his primary mode of transport is a boda-boda (motorcycle) rather than a car. So, obviously this becomes more difficult when it rains. Actually people around here function quite well in the rain but today’s rain was definitely worst than usual. Anyway, we had to wait for the rain to slow down so he could get to town. We did finally get on the road and the rain did stop but when we got out of the car at our first clinic, I learned to to not trust the ground. It didn’t look that bad but it was thick with mud that was extremely slippery. Even though the rain had stopped, by the end of the day I had mud all the way up my legs under my skirt, and I didn’t even fall down. It was just sloshy at times. But, our driver did amazingly well on the red dirt/mud roads. As we were out and about in the villages, we saw several vehicles stuck in the mud, but not our little car. At one point, though, Sam did have to ask us to get out so he could get a running start and gun the engine to get up a steep hill filled with muddy ruts, but he did make it!
To make the day even more interesting, the students were finally able to experience what it is like to be without electricity for more than 24 hours. We are lucky to be staying at a hotel that does run a generator from 7-11pm, but without this, the electricity has been out since about 8pm last night. We all had to get up and dress in the dark this morning and I think we were all glad for my advice to bring not only a flashlight, but a latern-style flashlight that can be propped up and illuminate the room.
Hopefully tomorrow the electrical grid will resume work and maybe the ground will try out a little…