I have just finished a week of teaching at the TReND summer school, and am now preparing to leave Ishaka and travel around for a while. The teaching was intense and wonderful – I was so impressed with how bright our students are, and their strong desire to learn. We started at 9am every day, and would end up still in the lab at 8-9pm, in the middle of discussions and answering questions. I feel inspired by them, and more than a little sad to be leaving them (though I’ll be back and see them again near the end of the course). To find out more about the course (including photos), check out the TReND blog.

Sadiq, our host at Kampala International University, took us for a beautiful drive today to show us the surroundings of Ishaka. Up to this point, we had mainly seen the lab and our hotel rooms, and it was great to see and find out more about Ishaka. We went past the tea plantation that produces the excellent local Igara tea I’ve been drinking every day, and as everywhere, much matoke (green cooking bananas that grow on the palm trees). We drove through a number of different villages too – the usual chaos of shops, boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers, and people wandering around everywhere, sometimes with impressively loaded up bicycles. There are also many children running around everywhere – in Uganda it is common to have large families (an average 6-7 children).

After the beautiful scenic drive, we reached our destination, and we were in for a real treat – Sadiq took us to a lodge on a cliff overlooking the savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Absolutely stunning sunset view – we all kept expecting music from the Lion King to start up. The photos don’t really do it justice. We had beer and some great grilled fish overlooking the spectacular view, and we even managed to spot some elephants in the distance (our first ones of the trip – though I’ve been told you can sometimes randomly see them by the side of the road!). Sadiq is a wonderful and knowledgeable guide, so we also had the pleasure of finding out more about the university, and about Uganda and its people. All in all a beautiful evening.

Tomorrow I leave Ishaka (and my laptop and internet access), so won’t be posting for a while. However, this is where the photography part of my trip really starts. I’m very excited about seeing more Uganda nature, wildlife, and hopefully even coming face to face with mountain gorillas – a part of the trip I’ve been looking forward to for months. For now though, my mind is full of everything I’ve seen and learnt over the past week, and I have no doubt that I’ll be missing my students!

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