3 September 2015: Greetings from sunny and warm Uganda! Despite my intial abrupt change in travel plans (see prior post), it all turned out to be an even bigger blessing in disquise than I had thought last night. It turns out that my original flight from Pennsylvania was quite delayed as well and if I had stayed around to take that flight, I would have gotten stuck overnight in Detroit and wouldn’t have been able to arrive here until today. As things went, the plane arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda just 30min late and I was greeted by the smiling Makerere University driver, Martin. What was really nice is that most of the drivers waiting for international passengers hold signs with their names on them so the passenger knows who to go with. But for me, that wasn’t necessary. Martin has driven me numerous times now so I’m greeted as a friend instead of a welcome stranger.
My first impression upon leaving the plane was “boy, it sure is hot and humid”. Right now should be the transition from dry to rainy season but Martin said that it has still been pretty dry. When the rains come, it cools the air down. I was also surprised at the heat because it was so late at night and usually it can get rather cool. The normal highs are around 85-87F and normal lows are around 65F. When its not too humid, the weather here is gorgeous. Today, though, it did rain a little bit and when I left the campus, I was almost chilly without a sweater.
Upon arriving at the Makerere University Visiting Scholar House, commonly referred to as “Edgehouse”, I was greeted warmly by hugs and smiles from the groundskeeper and guard, Eric, and by Eva, the housemaid. They always take such good care of me when I’m here. While Eric lives on the grounds, Eva usually goes home at night but she stayed super late just to see me (we didn’t arrive there until 12:50am). My room was already for me and there have been some welcome upgrades. First of all, they got a T.V.! Although I do watch TV frequently when in the USA, I’ve never really missed it much while in Uganda, except for keeping up with the news around the world. When I’m in Uganda, I keep so busy that it seems like my world is only Uganda. Over the past couple of trips I found that I could get news alerts via phone apps so I got to keep up better. This time, though, it should be easier with a Television. I’ll also get a chance to see some of the interesting African Soap Operas that I’ve caught a glimpse of before. They have also outfitted the kitchen with a microwave and finally, they have created a raised stoop at the door so when it rains hard, the water shouldn’t run in.
After sleeping in, and a good sleep it was, my day was spent first of all, organizing my room, then meeting with Professor Richard Odoi at the University. After a while, Cathy, the Ugandan pharmacist and faculty member who came to the USA, met me at the pharmacy school and took me to run the usual errands, Internet Phone Store for data plans for my wifi router, phone and ipad, and for groceries. We also had a nice dinner at a local chain called “Cafe Javas”. Oh, I forgot to mention that I had African food at the School of Pharmacy. I was so hungry by then since I had no food at the house and the Matoke (mashed banana) and green pea sauce never tasted so good!!
Today I ran into one of the 4th year students whom I had met and worked with last year. He told me about his summer clinical experiences working at the Infectious Diseases Institute and then asked me to speak to all of the pharmacy students at a career conference being held by the upper classman this Saturday. Since they needed a Pharmacist to talk on careers in Academia, the topic was a perfect match for me. So, as I knew it would, my time in Uganda is starting off at full speed. Tomorrow I will help precept the 4th year students’ oral presentation on the patient cases they worked up this week at Mulago Hospital. I can’t wait to see all of their friendly faces and find out how much they have grown in their knowledge and skills from last Spring when I gave them an OSCE assessment in May.