So This Is Christmas…?

Ali's reaction to her going away present - it's a matatu!

After a busy week at the centre, spent running the teen girls group and helping with the other projects and activities taking place there over the past few days, Kristen and I headed to Entebbe on Saturday to relax. We also wanted to see Ali, one of the Shanti volunteers, who was flying back to the US after nearly a year in Uganda. Ali and her boyfriend, Dai, arrived late in the day on Saturday, so we caught up with her briefly at our hostel that night, and then had a chance to do the formal goodbyes and to give her a parting gift on Sunday, just before she headed to the airport. Originally, we were going to meet up at a restaurant in town for lunch, but the previous day Kristen and I had spotted what looked to be a gorgeous pool at a hotel not far from where we were staying, and were determined to get in a little swimming somewhere we could be assured the water wouldn’t make us sick. ┬áThe pool was fantastic, and we spent a very relaxing day swimming, reading, and enjoying pizza at the poolside restaurant. Definitely the swankiest thing we’ve done since my arrival in Uganda – and all for only 10,000UGS (less than $5 Canadian) for the whole day.

Kristen and I pose beside the poolside Christmas tree at Lake Victoria Hotel.
Me jumping off the top tower at Lake Victoria Hotel.

We had a lot of fun playing photographer for one another. The pool had three diving platforms, so before we left each of us took a turn jumping off the top tower (or in my case, two turns, since we missed the “in the air” shot on the first try). We were highly amused at the Christmas decorations around the hotel – my brain was having a hard time comprehending that Christmas is less than a week away when all around us were palm trees and people sunning themselves on loungers. While in Entebbe, Kristen and I started planning our trip to Rwanda, and it’s looking like we’ll be spending Christmas on an island on Lake Bunyonyi, a gorgeous spot in southern Uganda, not too far from the border. Our decision to book in there was influenced tremendously by the fact that they have chocolate rumballs on the menu, which the man I spoke to on the phone assured me would be available when we’re there. Our plan is to have a campfire, roast marshmallows, and have a merry Christmas, despite our decidedly un-Canadian surroundings. If we can’t actually be home for the holidays and spending them with family, we figured it’d be good to stay at a spot whose motto is “you haven’t had it this good since Mom”. The place where we’re staying is part of an NGO that uses the money raised from its lodge and travel services to fund education and sustainable community development at Lake Bunyonyi. You can read more about their projects and see photos of the island here. We’re excited to have actually found accommodations at Christmas, and are looking forward to the hiking and travelling in Rwanda that we have planned for the following week. Another nice part of still being in Uganda on Christmas is that our phones will work, so if anyone’s inspired to call between now and December 28, I’ll definitely have my cell (011 256 75 8522667)┬áhandy!

We still don’t (and likely won’t) have power here in Kasana for the forseeable future, but I may get in one more post from the Backpackers hostel we’ll be staying at on Thursday night, before we leave for our trip. If that doesn’t happen, Merry Christmas – I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with family and friends!