Traveling halfway across the world to Africa is actually quite a feat – it’s a little more than 7200 miles from Washington D.C. to Kampala and although it only takes about 24 hours to get here by plane, our bodies seem to know something more is happening than the usual car trip where you might arrive 24 hours later. So, the blog has been silent a little longer than I’d like but we have been busy acclimating, absorbing all of our new surroundings and adjusting to the culture, and the climate. Some of the student’s first impressions were: “there is way more traffic that I anticipated”, “It’s interesting that all of the young school children have their heads shaved, even the girls” (I believe this is done for ease of cleanliness and to reduce the risk of head lice), and “I can’t believe how nice everybody is!”
On Day 1 we got up for breakfast by 9am and tried to stay up and active all day to combat jet lag. We met briefly with Benjamin, the Oncology Pharmacist, and then took a walk to the hospital for the students first look. Because there weren’t any Pharmacists able to accompany us for tour and we had not yet been officially welcomed to work here, we decided to walk across town to the Mobile Phone and Internet Store. Although the distance is only about 1/2 mile, the walk is a bit treacherous, especially when you aren’t used to it. The traffic is heavy and pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. We have to carefully weave through traffic, being careful to look both ways to avoid cars, trucks, and boda-bodas (the motorcycle taxis). Even the shoulders of the roads are not a safe haven for walkers as boda-bodas will use them to negotiate around cars and trucks during heavy traffic time. And by the way, heavy traffic is called “The Jam”. Walking around Kampala certainly takes skill but before long the students will be pros. After taking care of our phone and internet needs, we walked to the pharmacy school to meet with some students about the big Makerere University Pharmacy Student Association conference that we had been asked to participate in on Wednesday and Thursday this week. (You will hear much more about this tomorrow.) Finally, we ended the day with a lovely dinner at Medditeraneo, a delicious Italian restaurant. I often choose this for the first night’s dinner because it is off of the main road and out of the way of the hustle and bustle of Kampala’s millions of people. Sitting in the beautiful and quiet setting of this restaurant we debriefed the first day.