Leaving the UK was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Maybe I’m just a sentimental soul, but despite knowing that Uganda will be an amazing experience, perhaps even the best of my career so far. I was still touched by leaving behind my loved ones, my friends, my work colleagues. I guess all the people we surround ourselves with are so important for a sense of our daily being, as well as stability.
As I left Heathrow, the sun was just setting on my awaiting plane with another one taking off behind. I thought it was quite symbolic of this PULSE adventure and a great metaphor for what this assignment means for me.
After a pretty uneventful flight, apart from too much food and too little walking about (don’t think I have ever slept so much on an aeroplan), my arrival into Kampala was a bit more chaotic than I had planned for!
First , I got pulled aside as I couldn’t produce my Yellow Fever vaccination certificate; completely forgotten in my desk at home 😦 . A bit of chaos ensued where I was given the option of either getting some proof or having a top-up vaccine for 40 USD. Given the option (and aided by the free wifi at the airport), I connected via Skype with Carol D-M and Lucy P , my most excellent team at GSK House, who managed to send me a full list of my immunisations by email. Thanks so much to both for getting me out of a hole and avoiding me having to have another jab! Great example of supportive collaborative team working and IT working!
I then queued up for immigration, it took an hour to get to my turn, where I was promptly advised that despite my entry permit, I still had to go to another queue to apply and pay for my entry visa; apparently not the same thing! I’m sure most if not all of us have had very similar experiences when traveling. Ultimately bureaucracy is the same wherever you go!
Hey ho, I queued up again and eventually got out of the airport 2.5 hours later. I was the last one from my flight evidenced by my bag being all alone on the baggage carousel……….
Thankfully my taxi was still waiting for me. I was whisked away to my guest house, Forest cottages, comfortable, safe, clean and friendly. After an early dinner for the WEARY Traveler, bed beckoned. Can’t remember the last time I was in bed by 8.30pm, maybe when I was 10 years old!
So day 1 and so far I have learnt that Ugandans are incredibly friendly. Lake Victoria, Entebbe and Kampala are incredibly green and lush and being in Africa feels like home already…..