Pick your feet up!!#becsoneill

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So for a number of years Jessy (my bessie at home ) has been saying… “Pick your feet up woman!!” I seriously need to listen to this advice out here. The roads in Uganda are not O’Neill proof.. Pot holes galore and rocks protruding from nowhere= accident number 2, 3rd pair of torn leggings and another scrape to add to my Ugandan mosquito scarred legs… Whoopsie!

I’ve had a really busy few weeks both at work and socially hence the lack of blogging. So in a nutshell, in the last 2 weeks I’ve been on 2 office retreats, 2 field trips to mbale, 1 trip to a watch the Ugandan national football team, 1 spa day, 8 lunches/dinners at Endiro (one of my fave places to eat), 1 successful casino outing, 1 local awesome pork joint meal, 1 local Ugandan school visit, 1 too many aquaintencies with squat toilets/fields (of which I still haven’t mastered the method- this needs a separate blog!) 3 times the amount of hours I would like to spend on excel and 1 weekend safari trip to Murchison Falls!

Work has been really busy, especially as I’ve realised I’m already a third of the way through my assignment and I’m still feeling like I need to get my head around the market and the Ugandan & NGO world ways of working. On top of that I’m having to backtrack 6 years to my field force days to remember systems and processes that I used to use and that I can bring out here… The main difference being at GSK these were built for me and I was trained on how to use them whereas I’m now the one doing the building and training! Having 4 months left to deliver on this is petrifying but hopefully we have a strong plan in place to make it successful.

I’m currently driving along in the passenger seat of a landcruiser with 3 friends and Hussain (our guide) with the biggest smile on my face. I’m absolutely buzzing after having an insanely brilliant weekend, losing my safari virginity at Murchison Falls national park. Murchison Falls is a waterfall on the Nile that breaks the Victoria Nile, which flows across northern Uganda from Lake Victoria to Lake Kyoga and then to the north end of Lake Albert in the western branch of the East African Rift. At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 metres (23 ft) wide, and tumbles 43 metres (141 ft), then flows into Lake Albert. You would not want to go rafting down this thing.. We went on a very sweaty hike to see it and although it was very impressive to see how powerful it was, it was actually quite scary! The falls are surrounded by the national park which is uganda’s largest national park.Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park and measures around 1,480 sq miles- to put that into perspective… It’s pretty much the size of London! Richmond park is only 3 sq miles so it’s absolutely huge!

We were really lucky and got to see the Big 5 and within 5 minutes of our early morning game drive we were chasing down the dirt-tracks after a leopard. 10 minutes later the masses of antelope that were surrounding us had stopped in their tracks, all looking in the same direction, which is a clear sign that predators are nearby- unlucky for them but awesome for us because the likelihood of us seeing a pride of lions was fairly slim. Minutes later we are off the track , driving through marshland and heading straight for the pride- it was super exciting! Before we knew it, our car was in the middle of a circle of 6 lions, one of which had just caught a kill and was tearing it apart right in front of us- sounds vile but it was awesome! In the background there were dozens of elephants, herds of buffalo and “towers” of giraffe against a backdrop of an unbelievable skyline and acacia trees on the horizon- I honestly felt like I’d just hopped into the lion king and wanted to break out into Elton John mode and sing “it’s the circle of life” every minute! I’m sure the animals would not have found that very amusing so I refrained 🙂 I have been truly spoilt on my first safari and the benchmark is now very high for what will be many safaris to come. I’m well and truly converted… Trips to English Zoos are going to be very underwhelming.

So there you go.. 2 weeks ago my week started with a fall and has now ended at a fall and yet again Uganda continues to surprise and blow me away.

In 5 days Barney (the BF) gets here and I can not explain how excited I am to show him how brilliant and beautiful this country is- it’s going to be amaaazzzing to see him and I’m literally counting downs the hours until I see his face at the airport 🙂

Speak to you all soon,

A very happy Becky O’Neill. X20140728-110001-39601183.jpg

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