Dear Family and Friends,
HELLO FROM UGANDA!!!!!!
I arrived safe and sound from JFK Airport about 3 days after first departing from Roanoke. THe first day was incredible... saying goodbye to mom, dad and Cat was hard, but I think I had taken the greatest blow the day before saying goodbye to Michelle, so I was pretty much all cried out. I ended up clearing security and immediately boarding the flight to Philly. After landing, a new Peace Corps friend and I caught a van to the hotel, and within a few hours staging began. Long story short, we met the new crew and were almost immediately informed that we would be leaving within 3 hours for JFK because of impending doom (horrid weather). We bussed to Queens, and there we crashed after wrapping up certain business (in some cases, the last beer in the US, in my case getting property insurance!).
The next morning was nasty, and even though we made our flight, we were quite worried that we wouldn't. It turns out that we were one of 3 flights out that morning. Thus began a 15 hour flight to South Africa.
We landed in SA safely, and there we had a 5 hour layover before our departure to Uganda. Boarding the plane was exciting beyond explanation. Landing was even better. There was a collective cheer from the new PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). We passed customs easily and were greeted with many a smiling face.
"You're WELCOME! You're WELCOME!"
We were then whisked away to the training center to eat dinner and crash.
So far, things have been surreal. We woke up on Friday to see monkeys jumping around in trees outside our dorm, and giant birds flapping in and out of the palm trees. The trees are greener than green, and the smiles from the people I meet on the roads when I run and greet them with "Oli otya, sseba (or nnyabo)" (Hello, si (or madam)), literally melt me. I especially love the children with the screams of delight at the passing muzungu (white man).
Training has been brilliant. We are learning survival luganda (which I was pretty prepared for thanks to my Type-A personality before departure), and we have had a few hours of cross cultural training. The trainers are really friendly and very welcoming. I feel at home here.
The country as a whole is treating me well. The people make me laugh and smile. The warm humid air makes me sweat desperately (It is just like Virginia in the summer). The other trainees make me feel a part of a greater family and keep my mind from racing with thoughts of "I am so far from home." All in all, I am in love with this place, the people and the beginnings of what I have no doubt will be the beginning of just a few of my glory days.
I miss you all very much, and I am hoping to stay in touch by going to these internet cafe's as often as possible. In fact, I will have a cell phone, and I just learned today that I might be able to get a wireless dial up connection at my house/hut. Wireless in the jungles of Uganda! IMAGINE THAT!!
I love you all, But ESPECIALLY YOU MICHELLE!!
Your son, brother, friend and love.