Written by Ted & Jennifer Stacey
Leaving Jinja was definitely hard. We looked around and didn't want to leave our friends, both those on the team as well as our local volunteers, and we didn't want to leave the beautiful weather. Still, when Faruk says it's time to get on the bus, you get on the bus.
We waved goodbye, with plenty of hugs and promises made to the waitresses at Surjios, and to the various volunteers that were not coming with us to the airport.
As we passed through Jinja, we pressed our noses to the windows to commit the smells and sights to memory for one last time. But we still had to stop for more wine... and to check out Kyle and Nelly's apartment for the next 2 weeks.
We drove to the Rainforest Lodge, which is definitely in the rainforest, in case you were wondering. There were monkeys jumping from tree to tree around our bus. We checked in and received our cottages. The place was practically vacant, except for us. Of course, our cottage was at the bottom of the steepest hill ever... I didn't sleep very well that night because my calves were aching!!
The next day, we said goodbye to Brenda and Donna - two of our Northumberland County team members. They were heading on a private Safari in Northern Uganda. They hadn't even arrived at their destination, and they were seeing elephants, hippos and monkeys!
After lunch, we said goodbye to the lodge, and headed onto the bus once again. Kyle and Nelly hit the road when we got to the main highway and caught a taxi back to Jinja. Kyle is our last Northumberland County team member, and Nelly was one of our local volunteers. They met last year, when Kyle was on this trip, and have been dating ever since.
We drove through Kampala and then finally arrived in Entebbe. We pulled into a swank hotel to wait out the final 4 hours before we had to head to the airport.
The journey home was long, with many security checks (4 in Entebbe alone), long waiting times (a total of 14 hours over the whole journey), 2 planes, 1 delay, and 1 failed tail engine. It was exhausting, and I am not in a hurry to get on another plane for a long time. Two 8 hour flights back-to-back will do that to you.
When we got home, our friend Daryl was waiting for us, very patiently I might add - which was good since we were delayed and it took forever for our final bag to come off the conveyer belt. We hopped into his car and started home.
We pulled into our driveway, and (after waking up), we came into the house to see our children jumping up and down, my mom, a huge banner saying "Welcome Home," some valentine cards, and much love and hugs and "I missed you!" Thankfully, the kids wound down after about an hour, and both went promptly to bed, since it was easily an hour past their bedtime.
We lasted one more hour, before we blissfully drifted off to sleep.
Our journey was life changing, as we truly expected it to be. We haven't completely come to terms with everything we did, the distance we traveled, and the effects it will have on us and our children, all positive I'm sure. We're told a few months after we get home, it'll sink in.
We're already dreaming about going back, and we're joking about it being next year. Not sure if it will truly be that soon, but it's something to consider.
Thank you to all of the people who have journeyed with us, either physically, or mentally through this blog. The support we received from our family and friends truly made it easy for us to do this, and without it, it would've been clean impossible.
Blessings to all of our friends, both here and in Uganda, and I hope to see you all soon!