Back in Uganda, Again!!

This in not an official U.S. Department of State (DOS) blog and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the DOS.

I have arrived safe and sound once again in Kampala, Uganda, but getting here is very tiring. Although this is my 5th trip, and I certainly knew what to expect, the exhausting nature of traveling gets me everytime. This trip began with a KLM flight from Washington-Dulles Airport in Virginia and 8 hours later I landed in Amsterdam. Schipol Airport is very clean and modern. There are stands to buy local cheeses and tulip bulbs and although I long to bring some cheese to Uganda, I’m just not sure I won’t be told to throw it away at the border. The next flight was to Nairobi, Kenya and it was delayed an hour. The 4.5hr layover this time turned out to be pretty hard since it was like being awake from 1:30am to 6am. Also, before boarding each flight, you have to go through a full security screening again, removing laptop and all, so I went through the obligatory screening number 2 just to find out there are no bathrooms while you wait. Needless to say I was very thankful for the availability of a toilet once I boarded the next flight. The flight to Nairobi was nice and smooth and by the time we landed I was starting to get excited for my arrival in Uganda which is now just one flight away. Nairobi airport is much larger than Entebbe and when walking off of the plane I was surprised at the lack of familiar “Africa” smells. Those of us in transit to another international flight were pointed in the direction of a set of stairs at one end of the airport. After climbing these I was able to see a monitor that listed my next flight as boarding at Gate 15. Following the signs down a long hallway past all of the Duty Free shops, I found that the hallway to gate 15 was blocked and airport staff directed me to gate 12 instead. But once arriving at gate 12, there was no one to help those gathered there for a few minutes and then we were told to go back down hall to gate 15. We were finally able to convince the gate attendant that Gate 15 was blocked and he finally put us through another security check (#3) and sent us down the stairs and outside to take a bus to the other terminal. Eventually the bus full of passengers stops and we are directed to Gate 19, which is the proper gate. A 4th security check ensues and we are led into a waiting room. At this point I’m really looking forward to the short wait for the next flight only to find out, after about 40min of waiting that the flight is delayed and won’t be here for another hour. I know this is all part of air travel and I’m happy that I have a seat, and can read a book on my ipad, but I’m feeling really bad for the driver from the University that is awaiting my arrival at Entebbe. I know he would have reached there well ahead of time so as not to be late and the flight was supposed to come in at 11:45pm, which is already super late at night. Now he will have to wait until at least 1am. Some of the other passengers were not so calm and many unpleasantries were shouted. One white gentlemen sitting near me kept saying under his breath but loud enough for many to hear that he should get his money back for his ticket and when a second announcement was made he shouted again. Don’t people know that this behavior isn’t going to make the plane come any more quickly? Let me get back to the “Duty Free Shops” for a minute. I guess if you buy duty free goods that aren’t liquids or subject to any travel prohibitions, you can buy them anytime and they could save you some money. But, if you are thinking of buying something like wine, you need to be sure to do this only before you last flight. After my first international trip to Uganda, my husband met me in London for a holiday and to get to London I took a direct flight from Entebbe airport. I was able to buy some wine at the Uganda airport and bring it into London with me. The next year, I didn’t have an extended stay in London and when I had to go back through security for my flight home, they made me throw away the wine- total bummer. Since then I have avoided any temptations to purchase items at the Duty Free Shops. Well, I eventually did arrive at Entebbe Airport at 1:10am and since I already had my Visa, I was able to get in the quick customs line. The wonderful “Africa smells” of campfires, and cooking beans filled the air and brought back memories. Unfortunately there was a mixup and the driver from Makerere that was supposed to pick me up wasn’t there. Fortunately, I was able to reach the manager of the Visiting Scholar House to confirm that I was expected and I found a really nice young driver at the airport to bring me there. I finally arrived at my lodging at about 2:45am and after settling in and taking a nice hot shower, I was comfortably in bed by 4am.

This is the Visiting Scholar House complex at Makerere University,  the House I stay in is on the right side, the door you see is my entrance.

This is the Visiting Scholar House complex at Makerere University, the House I stay in is on the right side, the door you see is my entrance.

Sunday was a really relaxing day. The Professor came to take me to a delicious lunch at a Cafe Java restaurant, which is a chain coffee shop in Kampala. I had Chicken Korma, an Indian chicken dish served with a brown rice mixed with vegetables and spices- really yummy. Then in the afternoon, I got to meet my housemate- a Bioengineering Professor from Duke University who also just recently came to Makerere University. He is on a Fulbright Scholarship for the entire school year and will be teaching a course in Bio Materials (this includes things like sutures, cardiac stents, knee replacements, etc). He invited me to dinner and prepared a simple but delicious rice mixture with eggplant and other veggies. What a wonderful way to start off my trip in Uganda. Well, I’m off to classes on the first day of the new semester. Wish me luck! More later…

About kbohan

Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Binghamton, NY USA
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One Response to Back in Uganda, Again!!

  1. Ed Foote says:

    Sounds great! I’m glad you arrived safely.
    – Ed

    Like

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