Trip so far

(Sorry no pictures yet)

Day 1: Friday – News of a Court Date

Early Thursday in the morning, about 7am. I woke up to my phone ringing and someone knocking on the front door. Keith had already left for work. I pick up the phone and my mom was on the other line. She told me to look out the window – that the abandoned farm house (belonging to my uncle) across the street was on fire. I jump out of bed and run out on the deck. An enormous blaze across the street makes the deck warm. Fred was standing out front and was the person knocking on the door. After getting over the shock of seeing a house completely engulfed in flames, I sat down on the deck to watch the firefighters. I decided I had better check my email, though I didn’t expect anything as our attorney told us we’d probably find out on a Monday or Tuesday if we had a court date scheduled for the coming week. When I saw the words “Court Date” in the subject line I got so excited! When I read the email and saw that we had to be in Uganda by Tuesday, I couldn’t believe it. We are leaving for Uganda this weekend! I called Keith and mom right away and told them. Keith was in school and couldn’t talk but he called me and told me he would be able to leave school early. Everyone is so excited!

Thank God someone told us about Golden Rule Travel. I can NOT find any cheap tickets online with one days notice. The people at Golden Rule Travel have been awesome and found us a great deal with no change fees. We spent the rest of the day today running around like crazy people. Grocery shopping, buying last minute items, dealing with money issues (trying to find enough 100 dollar bills from the year 2004 or newer), paying for our tickets and then PACKING. I can’t believe we’re going to Uganda tomorrow!


Day 2/3: Saturday/Sunday – Travel

I went to bed about midnight Friday night but didn’t sleep very well. I got up at 4am to go to the bathroom and couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to get up and get the rest of our stuff ready. About 6:30 Keith woke up and we both worked on all our last minute preparations. I was terrified that I was going to forget something. Packing for a month in Africa on one days notice is not easy. My brain was going crazy. Our flight left at 3pm, so we had to be at the airport at 1pm, which means we had to leave town at 11am. We had thought that maybe Millen would be coming home today as well, but late morning we find out that it probably isn’t going to work out. :( We decide that CJ will drive us to the airport. We stop down at my moms to drop off the dog and say goodbye. I had tears in my eyes as I hugged K and F. I’m going to miss them so much! I hate goodbyes. We all prayed for safe travels and off we went! We stopped by and picked up CJ on our way out of town.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. It was EMPTY. I was surprised there weren’t more people at the airport on a Saturday afternoon. We had some problems with our bags, they were all overweight by a few pounds. We got some stuff out (no bubbles for the orphanage) and reweighed them. The lady at the counter was such a stickler and we had to have the weight exactly at 50 or lower. 50.5 is too heavy. Most of them will give you a little, but not her. After 20 minutes or so we finally got it figured out and our bags dropped off. We got through security very quickly and are sitting at our gate waiting to board our flight to Chicago!

Our flight to Chicago was fine. Very short.

We thought we’d have plenty of time in Chicago (3 hours) but since we had to take the tram to a different terminal and go through security again, it took a LONG time and we didn’t have time to stop for food! We quickly bought some Combos and made our way to our British Airways flight to London.

Love British Airways! The flight attendants are SO nice. Every single one. Everyone who hears we’re going to Uganda to adopt is intrigued and interested in hearing our story. Our travel agent is great and got us exit row seats. Food is good, planes are clean, everything on time. My only complaint would be that the video screens are really poor and the sound is horrible. You could watch a video but could hardly hear it. I had to hold the screen still half the time because it would fall down by itself. Other than that we’ve really enjoyed BA.

Very nice middle eastern man sitting next to me. Lovely talking to him, but does he not realize what time it is? I want to sleep!

Keith and I got a bit of sleep on the plane. Not much though. Crying babies (yes more than one) in the bulk head row next to us. The flight attendants joke with us and tell us we better get our sleep now, because that will be us on the way home. I hope Kai sleeps on the plane! We doze off for an hour or two. Maybe 2 or 3 hours sleep total. Oh well, we can try to sleep on the next flight.

We arrived in London at 6:45am on Sunday morning in London. Keith and I are TIRED and hungry. We get through customs with little trouble though the lines are, once again, incredibly long. We’re in line at immigration and customs for quite a while. We finally make it out and make our way to a waiting area. We realize that our phone doesn’t work, though it is supposed to. Keith went off to find food while I try to get our Internet to work. Not working. After Keith comes back I take a few bits of my egg sandwich and then run off to a little computer area where you put in 2 pounds and get 10 minutes of computer time. I shoot off a quick email to our moms to let them know we made it to London and asking my mom to call the phone company and figure out why the phone isn’t working.
About a hour before our flight was set to depart we headed to our gate. There are a lot of American kids (OK – college students probably a couple of years younger than me, but still) meeting up there and all headed to Uganda for study abroad. They were all so excited. Keith and I are excited and nervous. I keep trying not to really think about it too much. I tell myself repeatedly, if I can do Haiti, I can do Uganda. :) I think it is mostly the unknown and being afraid we’re not 100% prepared. Lots of silent prayers going up during these down times.

Left London at 10something AM. Once again, British Airways didn’t disappoint. Lovely flight. Very long, but all of the flight attendants were great. I didn’t want to sleep too much, because we were landing in Uganda at 10pm and wanted to be able to sleep that night. I napped, read and watched some movies. While I was napping Keith said we were flying over the Sahara Desert while the sun was setting and the pilot turned so you can see it out the window. I wish he would have woke me up – I was sad I missed it. Keith said it was very cool.

10something PM and we’re landing in Uganda! I keep trying to look out the window to see if I can see any of Entebbe but can’t see much. Before I know we are landing. I can’t believe we’re here!

We disembark onto the tarmac and a bus picks us up and buses us over to the airport. Keith and I get our money our for our visa, and make sure we have all our paperwork. The lines aren’t too long and we’re in and out with no trouble. Time to get our bags. I hope they are all there!

We got all our bags! Yippee! I was afraid some of them would get lost. Whew! Now we need to find our way out of the airport and find our driver.

Saw Godfrey right away as we excited the airport. He was holding a sign with my name on it and he welcomed us with a hug. We got all our bags loaded into his small car (took some work, but he fit them all in!) and we were on our way into Kampala. Godfrey said it will about an hour. The smells of Uganda are so similar to Haiti, that if I didn’t know I was in Africa I might think I was in Haiti. It is a very familiar smell that made things seem a bit less strange. I think we’re still in a bit of shock that we’re actually here.

The ride to the hotel with Godfrey was lovely. The windows were open and the air was cool. I realized that as much as the smells reminded me of Haiti, that it didn’t look like Haiti at all. I was surprised how clean and organized everything seemed. The roads are paved nicely and people drive much better than they do in Haiti. The roads weren’t crazy with people and people weren’t selling as many things along the street. It is very green and just seems so much more developed then what I had imagined. We were both surprised.

We’re finally at our hotel in Kampala! It is nice. Not fancy in any way, but nice. It reminds me a bit of the Habitation Hatt in Haiti – only twice the Hatts size. The employees are very kind and we get checked in quickly. We wind our way up and down stairs, through corridors, around the building (I know I’m going to get lost) and make it to our room. It is huge with a king size bed and a full size closet. We’ve got a nice deck, a fridge, desk, table and chairs, bathroom and of course mosquito net. Our room completely closes off (no windows and screens on the sliding doors – so there is not one mosquito in site. Yay! At this point is is after midnight here. Keith is exhausted but I’m too wound up to sleep. I decide to take a shower. No hot water. We have a boiler in the bathroom that you turn on and it will make hot water but we couldn’t get it to work we had an employee come fix it (something tripped on it). The water has to heat up though, so there was still no hot water. There was also no water pressure so I settled with a makeshift sponge bath. Better than nothing. Still not tired, so I decided to read in bed while Keith slept. I read and read, and read….still not tired. I finally (at 4am) take two benedryl and fall asleep.

Day 4 – Monday – Uganda!

We wake up and I groggily ask Keith what time it is. He gets up to check the phone (no clock in here) and announces it is 1pm! I can’t believe we slept that late. I was still tired but we got up and knew we had a lot to do today so we better get started! We got dressed and headed down to find a taxi. The hotel got us one, a very nice guy named Muhammad. It cost us 7,000 UGX (Ugandan Shillings) (around $3)  to get from the hotel to the Garden City Mall. I knew what to expect from the mall , so I wasn’t too surprised by it. We needed to exchange money, get a phone and minutes and go grocery shopping. We hope to cook many of our dinners and lunches in our room (we brought an electric burner with us) so that we can save some money not eating out. We got some money exchanged ($500 USD got us 965,000 UGX) and went to get a phone. The phone situation was a bit confusing – but in the end we ended up with a $30 USD phone, a $5 sim card and a $10 phone card. You have to buy those all separately. The woman at the phone store helped us get our phone set up and how to call out to the US. I called my mom to let her know we had a phone and give her our number. Woke the house up because even though it was afternoon here, it was 6am there. Oops. Must remember they are eight hours behind.

We head up to eat some lunch at the food court. There are SO many foreigners here. I’m surprised by the diversity. (Indian, middle eastern, Chinese, Americans, Irish, Brits, etc.) As we approached the food court I quickly told Keith about how it is done here. You sit at a table and all the restaurants bring you their menus. You look through them and then choose what you want to eat. Then all the other waiters leave and you order from the person from that restaurant. We ended up eating at a chicken place. I had chicken and fries. Keith had a burger and fries. Note to self – next time bring own ketchup if you want ketchup with your fries. The ketchup at the food court was so odd. Not like what we’re used to. Our food was good. It was 20,500 UGX. I think that’s about $10 USD?

After lunch we headed to the grocery store. What a job. We kept trying to come up with dinner ideas we can make with a one burner stove in a hotel room. We have a budget of $140/week for food – we already spent $10 on lunch, so that left us $130 to spend. We decided to try to keep it under $100. Prices were a little more expensive than what we’d pay for similar items in the USA but we managed to get what we needed for about $80. I am SO glad I bought diapers from home – Pampers were expensive! We got checked out, called the taxi and headed back to the hotel. We spent a couple of hours unpacking and organizing. We have our room well organized and ready for Malachi to arrive. I am nervous about meeting him. I guess I’m mainly afraid of his reaction…will he be very upset? Cry for days? Withdraw? Of course we’re excited, but right now the nervousness is overshadowing the excitement a little bit.

We just back from dinner. It was very nice. I had beef stroganoff (not like I’d have it at home, it tasted more like a beef stew over rice) and Keith had spaghetti. The atmosphere was nice and everyone was very kind. We spent 28,500 UGX on dinner, which was about $14 USD. Pretty darn good price. We were impressed. I brought home half of my stroganoff, it was yummy but the portions are huge!

We’re back in our room now relaxing. Keith is watching TV (we have only a couple of English speaking stations, most of which are sports related). We need to make ourselves go to bed soon. It is about 10:30pm here and we’re setting the alarm for 9am. We meet Malachi tomorrow!!!

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4 Comments to “Trip so far”

  1. KEITH AND SALEM-I AM SO EXCITED FOR THE BOTH OF YOU. SALEM, I LOVE THE LITTLE STORY YOU SHARED-IT MADE ME WANT TO READ MORE. I’M SURE EVERYTHING WITH MALACHI WILL GO WELL. BOTH OF YOU ARE VERY LOVING AND CARING PEOPLE AND I’M SURE HE WILL SENSE THAT PRETTY QUICKLY. WE ARE ALL PRAYING THAT YOU GUYS STAY SAFE AND RETURN HOME SOON. GEESH! I AM IN TEARS ALREADY. WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HIM! :)

  2. oh my gosh! I so want to be there with you all right now! thanks for bringing us along on your journey through your words! So excited and praying for you today as you meet your son!

  3. Thank so much for sharing this Salem! Yes, the ketchup is weird. In the evening at around 7 or 8pm, there is a Mexican soap opera that comes on tv and everyone I met in Uganda who has tv watches it every single night. I laughed because it is so clearly dubbed from Spanish into English and they said they had never noticed!
    Can’t wait for the next update!

  4. Thanks for sharing so much of your journey!! It helps me get a better idea of what to expect when we travel. Can’t wait to hear all about Malachi!

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