Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Uganda Trip Day 1

Today I’m going to Africa.

That is, today I’m leaving for Africa. I’ll be in Africa on a different day.

I can’t rightly say that I never thought I’d be able to report that I’d be going to Africa, though I can say that for almost 35 years that was the case. I NEVER, not until this very year, thought I’d go to Africa. This year, though, something struck me and I just knew. I didn't know when or how, but I knew. I could never have imagined that it would happen this very year.

Right now I’m sitting at the Salt Lake airport. It’s 6:45 a.m. and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I’ve been up all night. My flight doesn’t leave until a little after 11:am, but with our only having one car, and the family’s schedule of the day, it worked out best for Darin to bring me to the airport at 4:30 this morning. I don’t mind waiting here at the airport; arriving early allowed me to change some of my window seats to aisle. The man who helped me with my seat assignments was thorough and kind. And did you know that the airport has Café Rio and Smashburger? Some of my favorite conversations have happened over Smashburger food, I may have to have a burger for breakfast today before I board my plane for, you know, luck.

As I was checking in, a woman at a nearby kiosk overheard that I’m going to Africa and she turned to me, “Where in Africa are you going?” It took me a minute (tired) to answer, “Uganda.” “Oh! I’m going to Minneapolis. I wish I was going to Uganda. Why are you going there?” And this was my answer: “I’m working with the United Nations Foundation for their Shot@Life campaign which gives life-saving vaccines to children around the world. I’m a blogger and helped raise money for the campaign in August, and this trip will allow us to see the fruits of that fundraising.” She expressed delight, her love for the UN, and her desire to join me to my destination rather than go to her own. What a pleasant experience first thing in the early, early morning.

I checked one suitcase, and I have my backpack and camera bag with me. I’m dressed for comfort, not business, which makes me a little uneasy now but will make me very happy later, I am so sure. My important paperwork (agenda, etc.) sits in my backpack inside of a folder my daughter used last year when she was in 2nd grade. It’s got her school’s name and logo, as well as my daughter’s name on the front and inside of the folder, which is red and white – not subtle. One of these days I’ll buy a grown-up folder for my papers. It’s on my list, right after Car.

My travels today are as follows: Salt Lake to Seattle (2 hours 10 minutes), where I change planes; Seattle to Amsterdam (9 hours 50 minutes), where I meet up with the rest of my group; Amsterdam to Entebbe (10 hours 15 minutes), stopping in Rwanda (but not getting off the plane there). When we get to our hotel in Kampala it will be about midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

I’ll do my best to update via Twitter (@formerlyphread) and Instagram (formerlyphread), and each night I plan on posting (here) about the experiences of the day. If you’d like to send a ‘safe travels’ tweet to the others who will be going on this trip, here’s how to reach them:

LaShaun Martin: @OfficialShootie, @LashaunMartin
Cindy Levin: @CCyLevin, @RESULTSChicago
Felisa Hilbert: @FelisaHilbert
Nancy Jones: @womenvolunteers, @GFWCPR, @GFWCHQ
Jennifer Burden: @JenniferBurden, @WorldMomsBlog
Stephanie Geddes: @annegeddestweet
Julie Marsh: @thejuliemarsh @JulieMarshCMP
Ilina Ewen: @IlinaP

You can also keep an eye on the following:

United Nations Foundation: @unfoundation
UNICEF Uganda: @UNICEFUganda
Shot@Life: @ShotatLife

The entire trip can be followed at shotatlife.org/uganda and on Twitter at #vaccineswork.

Ooh! It’s now almost 7:45. I just saw my friend’s son – he is flying to California today to be a missionary for the LDS church. Seeing him in his suit with his nametag is really special. All growed up. He shines.

I think it’s time to go get something to eat (Airport Smashburger!). I can tell that I’m in no form to operate heavy machinery, so before I sign off on this first post, I’ll also mention that tomorrow, October 24th, is World Polio Day. Polio is almost gone from this planet. I’ve talked with people who were struck with polio when they were children; it seems like it was such a long time ago, but not that much time has passed, and many people in this world are still at risk. It’s preventable. Let’s get rid of it. Follow this effort with @NPRGlobalHealth and at EndPolioNow.org.

I’m tired. But I’m eager. I don’t think either of these feelings will go away while I’m on this trip. 


La Yen said...

Good luck! We are praying that you DO NOT GET OFF THE PLANE IN RWANDA.

Elena @CiaoMom said...

Enjoy.....I cannot wait to follow the trip!! xoxo

lisa said...

Happy travels, my dear!

(I think you must be sitting in the airport shining too!)


Kate said...

Good luck! I'm very envious of this awesome adventure you're about to go on. I look forward to your updates.

Melody said...

Godspeed, friend.

Geo said...


Mrs. Organic said...

Good Luck!

Emily said...

I am so very, very happy for you to have this experience. In fact, I'm tearing up reading your kick-off post. Happy travels, my friend!

Tiffany said...

You never cease to amaze me! Have a wonderful trip......and thanks for fighting for wonderful vaccinations!

Monica said...

Good luck! And I really hope you were able to sleep on the plane. I can't wait to hear all about it (the trip, not your sleep :).

La Yen said...

Alright, enough is enough. It's been one day and I need you to come back and tell me funny jokes. Sorry, Africa.

Lisa said...

I feel really good about your decision to eat smash burger. You're Gunna be just fine....

b. said...

What a gift it was for me to get that photo of you and my son Tuesday morning.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You and Uganda will never be the same.