Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend at Ssese

Best. Weekend. Ever.

This weekend was what bad horror movies are made of. Six college students, studying in another country, decide to take a weekend trip to an island. Insanity ensues. After class Brian, Manny, Sam, Isaiah, Joy, and I grabbed a taxi and went to Kampala to catch our private hire to Entebbe to catch our ferry to Ssese Island, which is in the middle of Lake Victoria.

We were all pretty hopeful about the weekend as we were waiting in Garden City (the mall). Little did we know the bizarre things that would follow. It’s hard now actually to remember all the really weird moments, but here are some highlights…and a rundown of the weekend.

So, we didn’t have any plans for where to stay once we got on the island. A guy came up to us and told us that he had rooms available, so we should just follow him. So we did. We ended up walking into this campsite, where we were greeted by a Polish lady and weird music. And her great Dane. Which was as tall as I was. And it had saddle sore. She showed us a weirdly, colorfully painted building with six beds, and most of us were just going to accept her offer and stay there for the night. Then Manny decided that he wanted to check out other places, which later we were all super thankful for. “No! There is no way I am staying there. The black guy always dies first!” –Manny

We laughed. And then we found a sweet place, where after talking with the people, we ended up in a family room, which had two separate rooms with 2 single beds and then one big bed. For two nights, complete with two breakfasts, it cost us $15 each. After unpacking, we went down to the place where dinner was going to be and decided to play a game.

We played a pirated version of Monopoly that someone bought here. It was copyrighted by the Paker Brothers. Not Parker. The names of the places were all different. I think the chance/community chest cards were the best part. Here are what some of the cards said:

“Go back Belleville”

“Get out of jail tree”

“Bank errorin you favour”

“Amend for intoxi cation”

“Appointment with the Street of Peace”

“Go to Christ Redeemer” –but there was no Christ Redeemer on the board.

“Aeroports”—what the railroads were called…although there were still pictures of trains on the cards.

On the board:

The majority of the places were foreign, misspelled names. It did have the Champs-Elysées on it though. Hello Paris.


“Collect $2,000”—when you pass go. It should be $200.

“SIMPLE JUST VISITING”—on the jail square

As we were playing Monopoly, waiting for dinner to be served, the lights kept going on and off. The whole game was just ridiculous, and we just put it away when the food came out. It made for a lot of laughs though.

There was a bonfire near the beach that evening, so a few of us went down for a bit, and then we went to bed. Isaiah read some Scripture and he read a bit of The Last Battle (a Narnia book) for us. Then the boys decided to do word association until they fell asleep. Hilarious.

Saturday we woke up and had breakfast, and then we went walking around the island for about 5 hours. We hiked up the hill to find a good view of the lake. We walked through the town and the guys ended up playing soccer with a group of school kids while Joy and I watched and talked to a few girls who came to sit with the mzungus. We also were followed by a dog, which we named Belleville (‘go back Belleville’). There were multiple times as we were walking that other dogs would come and fight with Belleville. He hung out with us all weekend.

We ate lunch in a tiny building on top of the hill and then found our way back to our room. The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading by the water, and then we watched the sun set. We were walking back from the town after eating a not-so-great dinner, and realized how dark it was as we were standing in a grassy field near the beach a bit away from our campsite. It was a clear night, and the stars were so bright. It was beautiful. Joy also saw her first firefly.

Then I decided we should try star-tipping. This is something that I learned at camp. Someone stares up at a star and spins around, and then after a certain amount of time you shine a flashlight in their eyes and they fall over. People love it. So we did this, and Manny and Sam went and it was funny. One time Manny didn’t fall down when the light hit his eyes. He was proud. The funniest by far was Brian though. He just stumbled, and his face was hilarious, and then he fell over. I don’t even know if I can describe how funny it was, but we all were doubled over in laughter. A few minutes later we were still just laughing about things when Brian grabbed us all and looked toward the water and said “I just heard a hippo over there!” He had seen a hippo in the water earlier in the day, and we had been talking about how dangerous hippos were, so needless to say, we RAN. When we reached our campsite, we just laughed some more. Brian and Joy decided to go back to the room and sleep, but the rest of us stayed near the bonfire. We met three girls from Sweden who are teaching at a school in Kampala. They were pretty cool. It started raining, so the Ugandans that were hanging around all went to their rooms, which left Manny, Sam, Isaiah, and I by the fire with Emma and Micah (2 of the girls from Sweden). The girls had done a bike tour on the island, and they had gone to a pineapple farm and had bought a pineapple, which we decided to eat around the fire. We didn’t have a knife or anything, so someone found a sharp rock and we broke open the pineapple, then just ripped pieces off with our hands. And then we just started biting it. This was another horror movie moment. We’re just attacking a pineapple around a fire near a beach on an island, and we can’t see anything beyond where the light from the fire illuminates. But we made it back to our rooms, and after Isaiah read Philippians 2 to us, the guys decided to play word association again, and then they were playing ‘who’d win in a fight?’ and ‘who’d win in a beauty contest’. For example, ‘who’d win in a fight…George Clooney holding a George Foreman grill, or George Foreman just using his head’. They kept waking Manny up, because whenever Manny is woken up, he’s really disoriented for a bit. One time he woke up and made a comment something along the lines of, ‘guys…the thing about Jada Pinkett Smith is..she’s strong…but she’s quiet.’ Again, hilarious.

I didn’t even mention that while the four of us were hanging out near the beach, Joy texted me and said she was sick. So Sunday when we woke up Joy was still puking and feverish, and she kept shaking. We had to get on the ferry by 8, so we headed up there after breakfast. As we were getting onto the ramp we looked to our right and saw a hippo. Joy slept on the 3+ hour ferry ride, while the rest of us read and watched the movies they were showing. They showed the most ridiculous movie ever. I can’t even begin to describe everything that was terrible about it. It was called Sheena, and it was made in 1984, and set in Kenya. She could summon animals by touching her forehead. And she always rode a ‘zebra’, which was just a horse that was painted black and white. One of the taglines for the movie: “Part Animal. Part Legend. All Woman.” Absolutely ridiculous. When we made it back to Kampala, we were dropped off at Garden City, and then our driver drove Joy to The Surgery (the name of the hospital), and the five of us went to find something to eat. We ate pizza, and I did not get sick. It was a good time. But seriously, it felt like the ending of a bad movie. We had lost a person, and we looked like a wreck walking through the mall with all our bags, wearing the same clothes we had on when we left.

It was honestly one of my favorite weekends ever though. I laughed SO much, and got to stay on a beautiful island with cool people and not worry about schoolwork.

We have four days of classes this week, and then we leave for rural homestays for ten days. So from Friday until the next Friday, IMME will be in Kapchorwa, and USE will be in Soroti. We’ll be staying with families in a rural village, most likely doing a lot of farming and stuff. Kapchorwa is supposed to be beautiful. It’s up in the mountains. Then we’ll all be going to Sipi Falls for the 30th through the 1st to debrief. I’m excited. Nervous about not really being able to communicate, but it will be good.

Thanks for reading. Hope you all have a wonderful week. :)

Manny, Sam, Brian, Isaiah, and Belleville watching the sun set.


Anonymous said...

laughed so hard at the monopoly cards! glad you had such an awesome weekend.

with love from N.I.,

abbi stern said...

oh gorgeous picture!
what a hilarious time!! so glad to hear!