Hi! Welcome to our site! We decided to call this blog "Yum Chapatis," because we look forward to eating lots of yummy, doughy, chapatis this year :) For now, here's a yummy recipe: click here. Throughout the year we'll try to post photos and updates to yumchapatis.com. Send some love our way!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First week in Uganda


This past week has been wonderful, stressful, and productive. I spent three days in Kampala (Uganda's capital), which is best described as a bustling, chaotic African city. I intended to post photos - but our electricity is out tonight and I can't find my camera in my millions of bags in the dark (fortunately, the internet at the Jane Goodall Institute is run on a generator)! While in Kampala, I acquired all of my research permits (YAY! Huge relief!), applied for a year-long visa, and bought a kitchen. It turns out that the field site I am staying at supplies a space for a kitchen - but researchers are responsible for supplying their own kitchen...supplies. So - I spent lots of time in huge stores and shopping malls (yes! there are malls in Kampala) purchasing - a small gas stove, a mini-fridge, utensils, plates, etc. I officially have a LOT of stuff to transport to Kibale. Below are a few of my favorite moments from this week:
  1. I had my first chapatis of the trip...yum, yum, yum :)
  2. After realizing I'd left my rechargeable batteries at home (eek - very important for my GPS!)...I finally found some in one of Kampala's huge super-stores. That was a good feeling! (Never mind that the batteries were $8/piece!)
  3. There are a (mostly) two options when traveling from Entebbe (where JGI is) to Kampala. Option 1 is to hire a car ($20-30 each way) - which means to one has to pre-plan for a taxi. This can be a bit tough as there aren't really official taxi services (taxis tend to be unmarked cars) and most drivers get business via word of mouth. Option 2 is to take a matatu ($0.75 each way)! Matatus (featured below) are all over Kampala and Entebbe...they're large vans that function somewhat as taxis - but they generally transport 12 or so people at a time. It's a tight fit inside a matatu :) Anyway - I took a matatu to Kampala last week (~1 hour), and made friends with the Ugandan man who sat next to me. After finding out I was American, he spent at least 10 minutes asking me, "How much are mangoes in the US?," "How much are avacadoes in the US?," "How much are..." - and he had the same response every time: Laughing and saying "NO! That is TOO much!" It made me smile.
  4. A Ugandan man who was bagging my groceries asked what state I am from. I told him Georgia and asked if he had heard of Georgia. He replied, "Oh, yes. I know the place. Obama Georgia." I laughed and said, "Yep, that's the one!"
  5. Last night, an incredible storm came through. It was honestly unlike any storm I've experienced before. The wind was so strong, that it shattered one of the windows in my bedroom - which was a pretty good scare to wake up to! No real harm done though - and of course today is another beautiful day in Uganda!
Tomorrow I am heading to my field site at Kibale Forest! It's about a five hour drive from where I'm located in Entebbe. I both excited and nervous about heading to the field :) I'm very much looking forward to meeting the monkeys who will be living right outside my window (black and white colobus and red colubus!). Next time I'm online, I hope to upload photos of the Kibale field station...and the chimps!

For interested parties - this is a matatu (photo from Google Image).

While I have yet to see a matatu carrying quite this much stuff, this photo (from Google Image) made me laugh...as it definitely seems well within the realm of possibilities!

View from the backseat of a matatu (I took this last year).

This is a photo (also from Google Image) of one of two of Kampala's Taxi Parks, where all the matatu's park and
attract passengers before heading out to various destinations.

I'll write again from Kibale!


PS. The electricity just came back on!


  1. Hi Julie, glad to know that things are going smoothly so far. Not much to report from Athens. Andrew was just interviewed by the BBC about his Science paper, and I got some money for a 2 week visit to Knoxville to work on modeling a pampas grass invasion. John Drake just turned 30 - think he was trying to keep it a secret, but we gave him a surprise coffee and cake morning. He looked suitably embarrassed. Take care!

  2. Haha! Thanks for the update Richard! Yay for money and BBC interviews - that's amazing! I also love that you just posted John's secret birthday on the internet. Thanks for making me smile! More photos to come soon...if I can get the internet to speed up!

  3. This is so exciting, Julie! Colobus monkeys are the bomb.