Sunday, August 31, 2008

Royal Ascot Goat Races


Goat_Races_066, originally uploaded by Nate Bosscher.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Royal Ascot Goat Races. It's kind of a big spoof on the Kentucky Derby and other fancy horse races. Alicia and Sarah dressed up with big pink hats.

As you can see, the goats need some encouragement to "race". Whenever the goats would get far enough in front of the pusher, they would stop to eat the grass. I think there was some betting going on, but I didn't put any money on the races.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

10 Thoughts From the First 24 Hours

1.    My trip into another culture started out a little rough when the African ticket agent at the Ethiopian Airlines desk in Dulles asked to see my credit card.  I could not for the life of me understand him.  He did not have a very thick accent, Alicia had no problem figuring out what he wanted, but he had to repeat "credit card" about five times before I realized what he was saying.  Alicia thought that this did not bode well for our trip to Uganda

2.    Somehow I managed to book our seats on both flights one row in front of the exit row.  I had thought that I had gotten us exit rows, but I guess I misunderstood the airlines seating diagram.  It wasn't too bad, but I think we would have slept a little better on the way over had we had more leg room.

3.    The coffee was by far the highlight of the flight for me.  One perk of flying Ethiopian is that they serve real Ethiopian coffee, and they serve it strong and hot.

4.    One of the first things I noticed about Uganda was how red the soil is.  The country is very lush and green, but anywhere the soil is exposed is a bright burnt orange color.

5.    Driving in Kampala is crazy!  I need to devote a whole blog entry to it so I won't even try to describe it here.

6.    There are lots and lots of birds.  I'll plan to devote another post (in honor of my mom) to the birds we have seen just in Kampala.

7.    There are no American chain restaurants in Uganda.  No McDonalds, no Burger King, no KFC, no Starbucks.  That blew my mind.  There can't be many countries left on earth that can say that.  Pretty cool!

8.    While coffee is the number one export of Uganda, there are very few places to get good coffee in country (according to Dan).  Uganda is a tea drinking nation, being a former British colony and they export their beans unroasted.  I guess no one has mastered the art of coffee roasting here.  Probably because there is almost no demand for it.

9.    The exchange rate here is about 1635 Ugandan Shillings to 1 US Dollar.  That makes for some difficult math at the grocery store.

10.    Walking in Kampala, people pretty much ignore you. This is a refreshing change from my experience in Thailand and Alicia's in India where people would stop and stare as you passed.  I don't think it's because the people here are so used to white people, it seems like they just don't find it that strange that your skin color is different.  That doesn't mean that taxi drivers won't still try to rip you off for being an inexperienced tourist.

More to come.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why can't there be just one time zone?

Its 1:15 in the morning. I feel like a princess as I sit under our mosquito net in bed typing on our laptop. I read a book for a while, then turned off the light and tried to fall asleep. Finally I whispered Nate's name and asked if he was asleep (an inconsiderate question, I know)...but I wanted someone to share my sleeplessness! Luckily, he couldn't sleep either and was even hungry. So now we're sitting here eating wasabi peas and nuts. Nate is trying to decide which pictures to share with you all.

Our flights here were fairly uneventful. The only unfortunate things were the broken reading lights and the horrible looking mushrooms they served with breakfast (see below). We flew from DC to Rome (8 hours, 40 minutes), stopped for fuel but couldn't get off the plane, then from Rome to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (6 hours, 30 minutes). From the airport windows, Addis looks like a very lush, fertile country. Neither of us knew it was so mountainous.



We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda only 30 minutes late. We made it through customs without a hitch and our baggage was waiting for us, which was excellent. A driver from the embassy was also waiting for us with a sign that said BOSSCHER. Nate waved to him as if to say, "that us, we're the Bosschers," but didn't consider that there were lots of other drivers standing around him who might have thought he was waving to them. I thought it was funny.

Sarah and Dan's house is amazing. Definitely more classy than our apartment in Alexandria, and we loved that apartment! When S&D got home from the embassy, we took Romeo (Sarah's shitzu) for a walk to an outdoor bar and tasted our first Tusker - an African beer. After a quick tour of the grocery store, Payless, we walked back home and had a nice big salad for dinner. YEP - we broke the rule of COOK IT, PEEL IT OR FORGET IT on our very first day in Africa. Its okay - I told Nate that I wasn't going to follow that rule anyways. If I'm sick tomorrow, I'm sure I'll be filled with regret.

Okay, I'm off to attempt the difficult task of sleeping again! As you can see by the clocks at the bottom of the page, our bodies still think its 6:53 pm, but I might be able to trick mine.

Thanks for your prayers and support!
-Alicia

Monday, August 25, 2008

We've Arrived

We're here in Kampala, safe and sound.  All the luggage made it intact.  More updates to come.

-Nate and Alicia

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Upcoming eMi Projects

It looks like I am going to be involved in at least three different eMi projects in Uganda this fall.  As I have very limited civil and structural engineering experience, I hope to learn a ton.  In addition to engineering work, I will be helping as a graphic designer and photographer for a couple of the projects; working to create fund raising materials.

Below are brief descriptions of each of the projects which I have gotten from the project leaders.

Sufficiency of Scripture:
We will be travelling about 2 1/2 hours North of Kampala to Luwero to work with a ministry called Sufficiency of Scripture (sosministries.com) who has recently purchased 100 acres with plans of building a ministry training center, primary and secondary schools, long and short-term missionary housing facilities and a ministry/worship center for the nearby community.  They are in the process of clearing the portions of the site where they intend to build so we can survey the land during the trip.  The site is an amazing piece of property that is beautiful African 'bush' and jungle.

Come Let's Dance:
We will be working with a group of architects and engineers in order to complete the design for a Farm Project for Come, Let's Dance (www.comeletsdance.org).  The property is approximately 20 acres and the ministry has the vision of implementing organic farming techniques to produce food and income for the associated community while emphasizing education, training, and empowerment. The goal of the design is to provide a working farm that fits within the local culture while still being a catalyst for positive change.  The farm will provide food and funding for orphans under the care of Come Let's Dance, training and support for individuals within the community to become more sustainable, as well as providing some housing for the poor.

During the project trip we'll provide a master plan for the site and architectural design for the first couple of buildings that will be constructed. We will design the site layout in such a manner as to allow multiple phases of construction over the course of the next few months or years.  Additional information on the project is located at http://emiea.org/projects/projectprofile_9072.shtm.

Construction Management Trip:
I will be joining a number of construction managers visiting from overseas on a tour of eMi's construction sites in Uganda.  There are two main goals for this trip.  The first is to see and experience construction management in Africa first hand.  This will be done by visiting both locations in Uganda where EMI has mobilized a construction manager.  At one of these sites we will stay for a few days and get our hands dirty with some actual construction.  The second goal of the trip is to visit potential construction sites to see the need these ministries have for a qualified construction manager.

As I learn more about these and other projects I might be involved in, I will update the blog.

5 more days!

One Year Later


0064_1, originally uploaded by Nate Bosscher.

Alicia and I celebrated our first anniversary last night with a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir from our honeymoon followed by a wonderful dinner at Restaurant Nora in DC.

It's been a full year to say the least, and it has been a incredible blessing to be able to share it together.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Barstow, CA


DSC_0799, originally uploaded by Nate Bosscher.

I just returned from my last trip to Barstow, CA. Since I flew into Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to make a detour through Death Valley on my way to Barstow. Obviously, it's aptly named. I got there just after sunrise and it was already in the 90's. By 8:00 the temp in the valley had reached 100! Crazy. If your car broke down on the one of the side highways you could be in big trouble. Cell phone coverage is very poor off the interstate and there often are no people within 20 miles. I don't understand why people live in the Mojave Desert.

Besides a 5 degree temperature drop, Barstow does not offer a whole lot more to see or do than Death Valley. I've had the 'pleasure' of making four trips out there in the past year and have gotten to know the three decent local restaurants pretty well. If I never set foot in Barstow again, it will be fine with me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

From One Nation's Capitol to Another

We've submitted our resignation letters, booked our tickets, gotten our shots, and picked up our malaria medicine! I'm not sure we're ready, but we're very excited.

On August 24th, we will be traveling to Kampala, Uganda to work for 4 months. Alicia will be working as a dietitian for a couple clinics in and around Kampala and Nate as an engineering volunteer with Engineering Ministries International (eMi).

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