It’s been a little over 4 months since I left Mukono and I’ve really settled into my new site. I feel like we’re really starting to whip this camp into shape. I had my birthday and it was definitely one of the best yet. My girlfriend surprised me and we went on an awesome adventure to Galagala falls on the Nile and then had some drinks with my Mukono friends and she had set up karaoke and it was a blast. Then we had the solstice/birthday/full moon party with a solid group of PCVs, GHCs and STDs and it was great.
The big project I’m working on right now is a canopy zip line. It’s going to be crazy awesome if it actually works. It’s going to be an attraction for my camp and it’s going to take a lot of labor and training and creative problem solving. We’re hoping to make it a 3 line system between 4 giant trees. If you do it in the morning or evening, you very well may be surrounded by monkeys as you fly through the canopy. So I have to figure out how to build 4 tree forts 150 feet up a tree, build a zip line that travels through the canopy and train my colleagues how to belay and safely get adventurous tourists through the course. I’ve also never written a grant before and the grant I’m applying for is an HIV grant, so I have to figure out a way to put an HIV spin on the whole thing (that might sound weird to people outside of development work, but it’s really not). It’s very difficult to submit a plan and a budget for a project like this without actually having some of the grant money to use, so we’ve had to be creative in getting ourselves into the canopy to do the actual planning, because you really can’t do it from the ground. Despite some of my Ugandan staff are very skeptical that anyone is going to want to use this thing once we get it built, I’m totally jazzed on this project and I think it could be a kickass thing to leave behind. Nothing like this exists anywhere I know of in East Aftrica. All the profits from the final product will go to funding community projects which we are slowly by slowly developing. We’re probably going to charge a lot to do it because it’s going to be super awesome and if Adrift can get away with charging $100 for a 12 second bungee jump, I think I can jack up the price for a much cooler experience. We’re close enough to Kampala and Jinja to do it in a day trip, so I think, if we market it well, it could be a pretty big attraction. But first we have to write the grant and build it and I have no experience in architecture or carpentry or engineering or grant writing, but what’s the WORST that could happen!? But seriously, safety is going to be the number one priority.
In other news, Django and I have developed a very special relationship and I don’t even care how weird that sounds. He went rock climbing AND crossed the bridge over the waterfall for the first time during the solstice party. After a week of trying to just push him with my feet or drag him with a rope down the trail with mixed success, I figured out his weakness. His stomach. I got him hooked on soy nuts and he can’t get enough of them and now he follows me everywhere ‘cause he thinks I have them. He came on a backpacking trip up to Namusa Hill where we camped out and was totally easy and awesome. He’s totally content to just chill out and eat foliage all day and then run to me when I make a clicking noise that he associates with getting soy nuts and proceeds to head ram my leg until I give him some soy nuts or head ram him back (this could become a problem when he gets full sized…). He also came on a trip with 30 school kids into the forest.
I got a call on a Sunday night asking me to take the place of one of the MAFICO guys as a guide/environmental educator for a group of 30 tweenage school kids the next morning. It turned out to be pretty awesome. I found some of my old environmental science notes and put together a kickass presentation on the effects of mankind on the environment, putting on trial the very policies established to protect the forest and giving a voice to the people that live and breathe the forest and finally concluding with a glimmer of hope on the horizon highlighting the changes that need to take place here, on the ground level to save our planet before it’s too late! Then I found out that we had 20 minutes to split between 4 of us which was cut down to 10 minutes and the kids were 6 and 7 years old. They were totally stoked about Django though. Oh yeah, Django is my goat, btw.
Anyways, things here seem to be in a perpetual state of ass kicking. My girlfriend’s awesome and the things I’ve been working on are starting to take hold. I’ve also got Uganda’s most charming goat chilling on my front porch, ready for the next adventure whenever I am.