I left for Uganda in early June for a research trip to Nindye, Uganda. It was an exploratory trip for a potential collaborative research project with the Ford Family Program at Notre Dame and Uganda Martyrs University. I stayed on the UMU campus and spent most of my time meeting with local health care workers looking at how malaria is treated in the area. I was able to visit local schools as well, which was quite an eye-opening experience.
Kevin was able to join me for part of the trip, and we were able to do a little sightseeing. We went whitewater rafting on the Nile. It was much moreintense than we had anticipated, but we survived and had a great time. We spent a couple of days in northern Uganda at Murchison Falls where the Nile River surges through a seven meter gap. We went on a mini-safari and saw all the big game of Africa. We even had a close encounter with some of Uganda's wildlife. We stayed in a banda near the park and woke up at two in the morning to the sound of rattling and rustling coming from our ceiling beams and from a little table near the door of the hut. I turned on my flashlight and aimed it at the wall where I heard noise. The first thing I saw was two glowing eyes near the mirror. I realized I was looking at a glossy, jet black snake curled up on the corner of our mirror. When I moved the light to the table, I saw another snake slithering between our cameras sitting on the table. I don't know much about the snakes of Uganda and had no idea if they were poisonous or dangerous. Our bed was in the middle of the room and was covered with a mosquito net. I didn't want to get out of bed to chase around two snakes in the early morning, so I told Kevin to go back to sleep because the snakes were unlikely to crawl onto the bed. Well, we lay there in bed for a few minutes listening to the snakes move around: The snake on the mirror fell onto a shelf and the one on the table crawled back onto the floor. Kevin couldn't stand it and got up. We didn't have any lights in the room (the electricity is shut off at ten o'clock), so I shone the flashlight while he used his camera's monopod to chase/scoot the snakes out of the room. We managed to sleep much better after that.
After Uganda, we headed to Europe for Natalie and Ulli's wedding in Heide, Germany, and met up with my parents as well. We were able to finally meet Ulli's family and enjoyed getting to know them. They were gracious hosts and held a spectacular wedding. From Heide, we traveled to Munich. We visited the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau and King Ludwig's castle Neuschwanstein.
From Munich, we traveled to Switzerland and stayed in the Lauterbrunnen in the Berner Oberland region. We explored the Alps and walked along the edges of Lake Geneva in Montreaux. We traveled to Lugano and explored the chalets along the lake and took a train through some of the most beautiful scenery of the Alps through Switzerland and northern Italy. From there we took a night train to Amsterdam.
We had a quick couple of days in Amsterdam and visited the Anne Frank and Rijks museum before heading to Brussels. We only had one day in Brussels, but enjoyed the wonderful nightlife in the city. From there it was back home- finally. I was gone for the entire month of June and really missed Riley. Apparently, Riley missed us too. He stayed with neighbors while we were gone but was sometimes put back in our house during the day. He decided to take out his anger on one of my houseplants and tore the poor plant to shreds. He even managed to pull it out of the pot and drag it around the house. Our neighbors came home after work to find pieces of plant and dirt spread out everywhere. They cleaned it up, but even when we got back, there were perfect muddy dog prints all over our carpets and even on our bed. I guess we should be happy that he missed us, even though we had to rent a carpet cleaner to get rid of all the paw prints.