Monday, April 14, 2008

Africa: Day 1

24 hours after leaving Harrisburg, PA, I landed in Kampala, Uganda. A long journey, but a good one. I had good seat mates and laughed at dumb movies shown on the long flight from Amsterdam to Kampala. I tell you what! It is so not worth flying on US airlines! The food wasn’t good, the seating was SOOOO cramped and the movie didn’t work. That makes for a very long transatlantic flight. But, once we got on KLM in Amsterdam, everything changed and it was comfortable and the food was downright good. I laughed so much at the movie “enchanted”…hilarious…well, the first 2/3 of it was hilarious. The last part was a waste of time, but the first part made it well worth the watch.

We hired Charles, a taxi driver, to take us to the guesthouse where Mary and I are staying and as we made our way from the airport there, I felt familiar with the smell of Uganda and the banana leaves. It brings me back to my childhood in Colombia and all that is comforting and equatorial to my senses. The noise of the traffic, the congestion, the beeping and moving of cars is not something I missed, though! But the warmth of the reception at the guesthouse, where Phoebe has greeted me each year I come to visit was most welcome and I felt like I was visiting a friend. Full on a plate of fresh French fries fried as soon as we arrived, with some sliced tomatoes, I made my way to my room to shower in what seemed like an eternity and to brush my teeth. I felt new in no time, but decided that I should sleep as I hadn’t slept in any of the flights over.

Now, it is morning, I hear the birds chirping and the traffic roaring. It is time for breakfast and to start our visits with our partners. Today we officially start our visit to Africa by meeting with Dr. Addy K at the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Center at the Mulago Hospital, where we provide ARV’s and other medicine to HIV+ kids and their HIV+ guardians. I am so excited to see what and how they are doing and to deliver the thousands of stickers and all the books we brought for the kids who get tested at the center to determine what they have. Stickers are such a part of our own children’s lives that we take them for granted. But here, they are not all that common and the kids really like having something to take home after being brave at the lab. Thanks to MediBadge for the 7500 stickers they gave us to bring to the kids!

I hear the sound of foot traffic outside my window…the day is definitely flowing by me and I need to make my way to breakfast.

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