In my last post, I included a map of Uganda that located Bududa, the small village where I will be living and volunteering. What the map didn’t indicate is how long a trip it is to Africa and how the rough roads and big, moving obstacles make driving exciting in Uganda.
So how do Jim, Barbara, and I get from Philly to the Bududa Learning Center?
It’s not easy!
- First, brave the New Jersey Turnpike for a run up to Newark Airport.
- Convince security that the cases full of tools, video gear, presents, pills, and toilet paper are not the foundation of some revolutionary sect.
- Then sit for 18-hour in cramped seats, surrounded by coughing strangers, while flexing fingers and toes to avoid blood clots.
- All the while, hope that the stop in Brussels isn’t delayed so long that our hotel reservations in Kampala aren’t given away.
- A day in Kampala to recover before hiring a local driver with a four-wheel drive vehicle and then hang on and pray during the day-long, 260 kilometers neck-wrenching ride to Bududa.
But I’m putting the cart before the horse. I can’t even enter Uganda without getting vaccinated for Yellow Fever. The only place in Philadelphia that has the vaccine is the University of Pennsylvania Travel Medicine department. I made an appointment, arrived on time, and was rewarded with three shots, four prescriptions, and a bill for over $1,000.
The prescriptions could be a coded suggestion from my doctor that I might want to reconsider going on this adventure. Modern medicine makes no guarantees when administered for travel in third world countries. I have to start the Malaria pills the week before thee trip begins; continue with one pill each week I am on location; and continue taking one pill a week for four weeks after I return. The regimen for dysentery/diarrhea/Montezuma’s revenge is simple: take two pills at the onset of symptoms and cross your fingers. The fact that I was prescribed six pills covering three different “onsets” makes me think that Montezuma will get his revenge one way or another.
The next challenge is assembling a set of video gear with lots of backup. It needs to be high quality, relatively light, and well protected from heat and dust. B&H Photo/Video is on my speed dial. They had the video camera I wanted. The Panasonic AG-UV180 was a good deal because someone had bought it and returned without apparently ever shooting a minute of video. I already own most of the audio gear needed including wireless lavalier mics and a shotgun mic to mount on the camera. Lights don’t make sense when electricity is in short supply, but I will bring a small, battery-powered, camera-mounted LED light to fill in back-lit faces or the interiors of family huts.
I’ll also plan to shoot lots of photos. My friend, Michael, lent me a very nice little digital still camera. I’ll get a spare battery and couple of memory cards, stick it in my pocket and will always be ready for those once-in-a-lifetime pictures of people and animals.
In my next post, I tell you some of the practical, surprising, and charming information I gleaned from reading my newly assembled library of Ugandan travel books. Please sign up below to follow my volunteer adventure blog.