UGANDA (and a little Dubai)!!!
By Nicole Hutchinson (JD/MPP, 2012)
I have finally arrived in Uganda!!! I would like to say that I am sorry I have not posted recently, but the last few weeks have been very hectic as I prepared to leave for Uganda!
Because there are no direct flights from the United States to Uganda I had to have a layover in Dubai, which I was amazing. I flew on Emirates Air, which made the over 15 hour flight as pleasant as it could be. There were tons of movies to watch, which allowed me to catch up on some of the movies that came out during the school year that I was never able to see. In addition, because I had a twelve hour layover Emirates provided me with a free hotel room and free meals while I was here. It was wonderful to have a place to put my stuff and to shower, but I really wanted to take the opportunity to explore Dubai. I decided to go on a tour of the city done by the hotel that I was staying in so that I could see as much of Dubai as possible in the short time that I was there. Here are some of the highlights of my trip around Dubai:
First, we drove through the area of Dubai where you are able to see the skyline and some of the unusual buildings that Dubai has, such as the Emirates Towers and the Burj Dubai (which is having the finishing touches done on it now and will be the world's tallest building). We were then able to drive past Ski Dubai, which has an indoor man-made mountain, which people can ski down. Next, we went to the Dubai Marina, where we had the chance to walk around an amazing group of buildings that were surrounded by canals where people could park their boats.
Our next stop was to go onto one of Dubai's three man-made islands in the shape of palm trees called Palm Jumeirah (they are also currently building a man-made archipelago of islands that will look like the world). There was an amazing hotel at the far end of the island, but for the most part the island housed luxury apartment buildings.
My next stop was the Burj Al Arab, which is the famous hotel that looks like a sailboat. It was amazing to finally see this building in person, although unfortunately you cannot go inside unless you have a reservation there. We also stopped at Jumeirah Beach Park, where I was able to put my feet in the ocean for a few minutes (unlike the water in Malibu it was pleasantly warm). There were tons of people at the beach even though it was late at night. My last stop was at Jumeirah Mosque, which is the large mosque in the main part of Dubai.
Overall I really enjoyed my layover in Dubai even though it was pretty hot. It was about 95° F when I arrived at 7:30pm (I can only imagine how hot it would be in the day time). While I knew that Dubai was pretty westernized in comparison to most Middle Eastern countries, I was amazed at how many of the stores we have in the United States were in Dubai. Of course, there was McDonalds and Starbucks as was to be expected, but they also a Ford dealership, a Baskin Robbins (sadly no golden spoon), a Sketchers shoe store, and even a Coffee Bean (which does not even exist in most places in the United States).
From Dubai, I took another flight to Uganda through Addis Abba, Ethiopia (but we were not allowed to get off the plane). We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda at about 2:45pm. It took us a few hours to get out of the airport because the passport checkpoint was very slow and then another student's luggage was damaged so he had to make a claim. We then took a 30 minute drive from Entebbe to Kampala (which is where I will be staying this summer). I am glad that I do not have to drive while I am in Uganda because they have terrible drivers here. Our accommodation is conveniently located and the people that work here are all very nice and helpful. There are armed guards at every entrance (which seems a little intimidating, but most hotels and expensive stores here have them). We were all very tired so we just went and got dinner and then I spent the rest of the evening unpacking my stuff and relaxing.
Today, we walked about Kampala a bit (I will definitely be getting a lot more exercise here since it is possible to walk most places and probably safer). I was able to find internet access and it is surprisingly fast (which makes me angry when I think about how slow my internet at home can be and I will definitely be calling my internet company when I get home to tell them their service is slower than internet in a third-world country). I also purchased a Ugandan cell phone today so that I can make local calls and receive phone calls.
Tomorrow, I will be starting work. I am really excited to get to work and do what I can to help the people of Uganda!!!