Friday, July 24, 2015

Saying My Good-byes…

After almost 10 weeks, my days in Uganda are coming to an end. I have had such an amazing time here. While I came in with little information and zero expectations, I feel like I’m leaving with an experience that’s complete.

These past few weeks I was staying in an agricultural community called Kataara. It is about 1.5 hours away from Kasese so Erick and I decided to stay in a lodge to reduce the daily commute costs. This area had no internet so I was completely cut off from the rest of the world for some time. It was great to get away. After two weeks, we finished the rodent collecting and my summer fieldwork was officially over! It’s amazing how time flies… At the beginning the days felt like weeks, and now the weeks feel like days.

Last weekend some Emory labmates who are doing research in Rwanda this summer (Gabriel Andrle, Jessica Deere, and former ENVS post-doc Winnie Eckardt) visited me in Kasese and we went on a safari of Queen Elizabeth National Park. A lot of my research focused on the outskirts and community-park boundaries, so it was great to see the heart of the park. The safari was AMAZING. The first day we left early to see the lions coming back from their evening hunts, then we drove to see the bigger mammals, then an afternoon boat ride along the Kazinga Channel to see elephants, hippopotamus, water buffalo, and some amazing birds, then ended with a visit to the Bunyampaka salt lake mines and a sunset-lit drive home back through the park. The next day we took the long trek down to Ishasha to see the famous tree-climbing lions, and then we went to the Kyambura Gorge to see the chimpanzees. It was even more amazing than it sounds.

After the safari I left Kasese and headed to Kampala where I’m currently staying for the rest of my time abroad. I leave for America on Monday. I will definitely need some time to process everything I experienced over the past two months. It will be hard going back to America for many reasons, but I’m also looking forward to it. I am excited about the school year – we will have a good soccer team this season, the J. Pollard Holmes Residence Life staff is amazing (including fellow IRES colleague, Oceana Hopkins!), and my classes are going to be really interesting. Even though I’ve had an incredible time in ‘go-with-the-flow’ Uganda, I think I’m ready to head back to the crazy American life.

Weeraba, Uganda!

Leo R.

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