Tororo Travels

After returning from my whitewater rafting/Source of the Nile weekend in Jinja, I was sad to go back to work. I’m sure that’s only a fraction of how I’ll feel when I have to return to London though.

Weekend over :(

There were some “higher ups” that were visiting Kampala for a couple of weeks for important annual meetings, so my networking skills have been top-notch (as if you’re all surprised). I wish I hadn’t forgotten my business cards at home! Emails were exchanged and to escalate my networking even further, I was invited to Tororo (a little town near the Kenyan border in Eastern Uganda) with the big boss to see the ToLab and meet the staff. That meant one week of hell fun in the lab; I worked 10-11 hour days for over one week to finish my work. Here’s my little cubby hole where I spent my days:

My “home”

The ride to Tororo was, supposedly, the worst in history that the IDRC (International Development Research Centre) has ever had. We were using one of their vehicles and private drivers (yay for avoiding matatus!) but due to some stall on one of the bridges in Jinja and a few construction sites, we were delayed by over two hours. Apparently you can see baboons when driving through the Mabira Forest, but it was too late in the day for that. I’ll have to go back one day just so I can see baboons in their natural habitats.

The people I came with stayed at Pecos, while I stayed at Blue Mountain Inn. Sounds cozy, right? Well, for a rural town with a population of 43,000, I’m thankful there was a working toilet and a mosquito net. Tororo has a very high malaria transmission rate, so if there’s ever a place you want to wear repellent and sleep under a mosquito net, it’s here. There was no hot water, but I wasn’t expecting it. I only paid $10 USD a night, while the others paid around $15. The staff wasn’t over friendly, the bed was big foam mattress, and the mosquito net had holes in it. If you ever pass through Tororo, I’d check out Pecos first, then Prime if you have the budget, before checking out Blue Mountain Inn. Even Crystal Hotel across the street looked a bit better. Here is a list of places to stay from Bradt Travel Guide and one from Oh well, a place to rest my head on a student budget is nothing to complain about!

I had just over a day to spend at the lab, where we held presentations and met the friendly lab colleagues. I chatted with a number of students about their projects and learned to how to make and read blood smears for malaria parasitemia. The lab is a combination of immunology and parasitology (which I know only a little about), so it’s nice to see the collaboration of the two.

SS and I (a fellow MSc student who is originally from Uganda) climbed Tororo Rock. It’s a giant rock that marks Tororo and you can’t miss it walking down any street. Apparently there’s a saying There is saying in Tororo: “The Eiffel Tower is to Paris as the magnificent Tororo Rock is to Tororo District.” LOL thanks Wikipedia.

We were told we could walk up it in around 45 minutes (elevation: 4,865 ft or 1,483 m) so, one morning, we decided to pay the security guard (they make money wherever they can!) to go up the hill. He showed us the whole way up. Here are some beautiful views:

We’re coming for you!
Peaking town
Up we go
A view from another side
Tororo from above
Climbing down

After saying goodbye to the ToLab, I was able to catch another private IDRC vehicle to Jinja (yay!), where I was to spend the next week. Since we were driving to Tororo in the dark, I wasn’t able to take in the landscape. On the way back, though, I got a few nice shots of rural Uganda, and the cute little boy sitting beside me:

View from the back
Rural Uganda
Houses on the side of the road
More “typical” houses
Rice paddies!
The boda had a passenger that was carrying a bike!

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