A Travellerspoint blog

The First Uganda Entry


sunny 26 °C
View Uganda on cheryl.j.'s travel map.

So I arrived safe and sound into Entebbe airport on tuesday night, and to my surprise had a 5/6 hour car journey with Elisa and Louise back to our wee house. The road was bumpy to say the least, but it was amazing to see the markets at the side of the road and all hustle and bustle of the streets as we drove along. We arrived at the 'Yesu Ahuirie' Catholic Community just passed Mbarara. Got the mosquito net up and went to sleep as we were all shattered from the drive.

I woke up to amazing scenery and lovely weather. Cows, goats, chickens, dragonflys, mosquitoes, birds, lizards all around us - I instantly loved it. The girls were very happy with all the food and crisps (and wine) I brought them, so we had bread and Nutella for breakfast with a cup of coffee. The lunch was more interesting. Matokee which is mashed up and cooked banana before it turns ripe, aswell as rice and a kidney bean and gravy soup thingy! It was.. nicer than it sounds haha. For dinner we had spaghetti and veg, and it was gorgeous! That's the food! During the day we've read books and chatted, been to mass (6pm daily) and went on walks around the community.

The way the Ugandans celebrate mass is brilliant. They have their african drums and rain shakers and it's such a happy and joyous feeling everyone getting into it. Even the orphans - young and old - are dancing and clapping! It's great!

Last night we opened up the rose wine and had a wee cup, it was very nice!

So I'm absolutely loving it here; it's so peaceful and tranquil and relaxing (before school starts) and I feel very close to God even though there's not alot to do. Water is limited and electricity usually only comes on at night. You would think it takes alot to adapt to this, but I'm settling in very well. It's great hanging out with the girls and having the time to just talk about life instead of sitting infront of a computer wasting time.

The people here are so lovely too. I initially thought they would be quite hostile to white people, but it's the complete opposite!

I think that's enough of an update for one day. I'm not sure when I'll get to post again as the internet/electricity is limited, but I'll try and add some photos for next time.

Hope everyone at home is safe and sound, you don't need to be worrying about me cause I'm having a braw time!!

Tomorrow Fr. John Bashobora arrives - he's the main gaffer so we'll have a little bit more structure when he gets here, hopefully get a drive into Mbarara to buy some supplies. All is good!! God is good!

Lots of love,
God Bless xx

Posted by cheryl.j. 06:39 Archived in Uganda Tagged volunteer Comments (0)


Here's where I'm going..

overcast 13 °C

See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

Leaving tonight, byeee!
God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 06:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Uganda, Africa

Before I set off..

overcast 13 °C

Hi again! It's not long before I get back from Australia that I announce another excursion to a far-flung part of the world. On Tuesday I'm off to Mbarara, Uganda. I'll be gone for 3 weeks, and I'll be helping teach orphans and x-child soldiers music, art, sport and hopefully a little bit of religion (English and Maths they already get taught).

I'm not sure of the internet connection in the place I'm staying at, but my friends Elisa and Louise who are already out there have been sending emails, so I'm pretty sure I'll get online to update this blog.

I'll be able to tell you more when I'm there, so stay tuned!

God Bless,

Posted by cheryl.j. 07:01 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (0)

The End

Back on home turf

overcast 20 °C

So this is the final entry just to round my last week up..
It seems so long ago that I started this blog, and travelling round New Zealand feels like months ago, but at the same time, it feels like I only left yesterday. I've been back home for a week now, and it's taking some time to settle back into my normal routines. Now that I'm back all I want to do is get up and go again, I think I've caught the traveller's bug!

So my final week was spent in Sydney for World Youth Day: a huge youth pilgrimage with the Pope. The basic idea of it is to celebrate being Catholic, and to share the experience of travelling a distance (pilgrimage) to gain a deeper spiritual calling to God, and learn more about you faith by sharing it with other-like-minded people. The youth of the Church were recognised to be expremely important for the future of the Church, and so Pope John Paul II decided to celebrate this with 'World Youth Day'. 600,000 pilgrims travelled to Sydney Australia to rejoice in the message of God, and the message of the Pope - "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" - (Acts 1:8) So this was the theme - all about the Holy Spirit, all about our duties as young Christians, all about our calling and what our life should be going towards.

I had a busy week with the International Liturgy Group. 150 representatives from all over the world, and I was proud to represent Scotland. Everyone had different roles to fulfill for the week, and the choices had been made regarding who did what before we had arrived. My first duty was to carry the Scottish flag for the opening mass - the reps carried huge flags to begin World Youth Day. For three days in a row we had catechesis in St. Benedicts church (Catechesis is about teaching the faith and talking deeper about areas within faith, God, Church - it's also what I'll be studying on my MA degree!) I was then part of the 'Stage Welcome' group on the stage. 16 representatives were chosen to welcome the Pope as he walked up to the stage, and this was to be the first time the pilgrims would properly see him.

So we did just that, we welcomed, shouted, cryed, and were over-joyed and amazed with the experience, it was truly amazing! I was standing 2 metres away from the Pope infront of 500,00 people!! Unfortunately I didn't get to meet him, and my friends at the other side of the line did, but, I got Papal Rosary Beads, and I am quite sure that I'll meet him one day in the future!!

The days in between the main events included rehearsals and Stations of the cross, various outdoor festivals and indoor concerts. I managed to meet up with my friends I travelled with, but unfortunately didn't get to meet up with my Paisley Diocese. The last main event was the over night vigil with the Pope. We were lucky enough to be in the 100m restricted zone infront of the stage, and it was a lovely evening. Everyone had candles, we had adoration, and the Pope spoke about some really amazing things - Holy Spirit, love, our mission as Catholics. It was very inspiring. We are called to be the light of Christ in this world of darkness - so true.

So we headed back to Sydney University where we were staying the next day and got all packed up. We had a wee party, said our goodbyes, and left the next morning for the airport. I was in tears saying goodbye to some folk. I became really good friends with a few people from America, Australia and New Zealand, in particular Cameron, a seminarian who will be a priest in two years - I asked him to do mine and Mark's wedding, and he gladly accepted! I plan to stay in touch with all my new mates!

So that's my blog over. I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing. I don't know when my next travel adventure will be, but I hope it won't be too long! Thanks for reading everyone!

God Bless, until next time, Cheryl x

Posted by cheryl.j. 06:55 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)



overcast 10 °C

Hey everyone, hope you're well!
Last night I arrived in Sydney airport around 10pm, and stayed up pretty much all night to meet my diocese of Paisley. Their flight was heavily delayed so I didn't meet them til 10am'ish. I was so happy and glad to see everyone and all the priests. Lots of hugs and chats about where I'd been. There's a few priests here - Fr. Andrew Coleman, Fr. John Morrison, Fr. Frank Hannigan, Fr. Gerry Gallagher, Fr. Stephen Baillie, and Fr. Euan. So we got on the coach and 2 hours later arrived in the diocese of Wollongong. It was a quick procedure, but basically just met the parish priest at St. Francis Assisi and then headed off in our inidividual groups with our family house sharer pilgrim. Basically for the next few days we're staying at various parishiners homes. I'm with Jenni, Clare and Denise, and the house we're staying in is HUGE!!! This family are proper rich, with their own pool table and gym. I think we got the best deal! Plus, there's WiFi!!!

This evening we're going to the family's parents house for dinner (they're italian too, so it should be great food!) Unfortunately I'm only staying for 2 days in the diocese whilst everyone else stays for 4 days. I have to make my way to Sydney University on Saturday to meet up with the International Liturgy Group.

I'm a little sad I won't be staying with my diocese, friends and priests, but I'm hoping to meet up with them during my free time. That's basically a case of organising times and meeting places and chatting to my youth officer, Christine to try and arrange something.

I'm missing my friends though (the ones I've been travelling with for 4 weeks). I won't see them until the flight back home in 2 weeks, but I'm sure we're all going to have a fantastic time. I'm so so excited, and I'm so so blessed to have this opportunity!

And my folks gave me some pennies for passing my degree - woo hoo!

Here's some more photies from the past weeks:

Speak soon, God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 00:14 Archived in Australia Tagged photography Comments (1)

Surfer's Paradise

and surrounding places

sunny 17 °C

Hey everyone, I'm currently in Surfer's Paradise (Gold Coast). We've been here for the last 3 days, but the weather's been rubbish up until today - it's blue skies and sunnnnnny sunnnnny weather. So.... The first night we stayed in a wee rubbish hostel hotel in the town centre which was basically just bunk beds. After that we checked into a 4* apartment with an amazing view, and huge rooms! It's been great. We've wandered around town, went to Byron Bay 2 days ago which was great - lots of little hippy shops (my sort of stuff) and today we're going to lounge on the beach. I'm all packed up and leaving for Sydney tonight and meeting my diocese tomorrow morning. Yesterday we went snorkling and scuba diving - very scary at first, but pretty cool at the same time! I'm facing my fears!

So this is just a short update to say I'm alive and safe and well and having a great time.
Here's a wee photo for ye's :D


And by the way, I am now Cheryl Johnston BA (Hons) Theology! I got a 2:1 for my degree!!!!!!! Woooo Hoooo! So if you want to give me lots of money and presents, please feel free!

Next stop - Sydney WORLD YOUTH DAYYYYY!

God Bless xx

Posted by cheryl.j. 17:29 Archived in Australia Tagged events Comments (2)


Land of the Kangaroos and Koalas!

overcast 10 °C
View New Zealand / Australia on cheryl.j.'s travel map.

G'day! I'm now in the very very nice city of Melbourne!
To finish off where I left off - Christchurch is a rubbish town! Full of rubbish tourist shops and Japanese/Koreans. Not much to the city despite my previous entry of there being lots of restaurants. Plus the weather was terrible when we were there - we were glad to get on the flight!

We arrived in Melbourne, and Elisa's family came to pick us up. They hired a mini-bus so we got to their house in Cranbourne and were fed some proper food (Dutch soup and garlic bread-twas lovely!) (Elisa's from Holland). So we've been staying in a proper house the past few nights and had proper food and proper showers and it's been great. The houses here are so huge, and the area is really nice too. On our first full day here we headed into the mall and I bought some nice wee shoes to wear with my kilt for WYD, also bought some nice tops. The next day Elisa's cousin took us to a wildlife farm. We saw snakes and lizards, koalas, dingoes, emus, turtles, parrots and fed kangaroos from my hands!! They're so cute! Afterwards we went to watch the 'Penguin Parade' - everyone sits at the beach and waits for the sky to get dark enough to watch the penguins come out of the sea and go back to their home in the bush. It was a nice thing to see and they're so small and cute too!

We then headed to Shane's house (E's cousins) to book our flight from Melbourne to Gold Coast where we're going on Friday for a few days. The gang's going surfing there, and supposedly there's so much to see and do there. I also booked my flight from Gold Coast to Sydney as I have to leave earlier than the group to meet up with my diocese (5.30am 10th July Sydney Airport)

Unfortunately this computer doesn't have a card reader, but here's some photos from snowboarding! I miss boarding soooo much! I posted my shorts and goggles home the other day to save some room, so mum you'll be getting a package in next week some time. I'm also going to post my boarding trousers today..


Speak soooooon, Love and kisses, God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 21:03 Archived in Australia Tagged photography Comments (1)


The last stop of our New Zealand travels!

overcast 10 °C

Hi everyone!

I'm safe and sound from my two days boarding on lovely fresh powder of the Mountain of Hutt (Mt Hutt) - there aren't many huts to be fair - silly name! Today I spent half of it teaching Will how to board, and unfortuantely Elisa, on the top of her first proper run, flipped over and sprained/fractured her wrist (the doctor doesn't know yet, but she's in a splint). Bit of a shame really, but she didn't want to spend the money for a lesson, and she didn't wear wrist guards (both bad ideas I suppose)... The mountain was extremely blizzardly today - snowed the whole time, and visibility was poor. I took a break to sit by the fire and drink some hot chocolate with Elisa, lovely jubbly. So after waiting ages for Elisa's X-ray, we hit the road and drove round the nice city of Christchurch. It's quite picturesque with lots of little restaurants and bars, but within 5 minutes of driving round we see a shop that sells drugs, steamin folk falling about the streets, and scantily clad woman on street corners - not so good. It's not safe to walk the streets at night we're told, so it's an early night for us and an early morning to clean and gut the vans.

We're spending two nights here in a backpackers hostel in the city centre; not too sure what we'll get up to - no doubt wander the shops as there's quite a few!

So as I've been saying, this is the last stop of our 2 week New Zealand tour. I've had a brilliant time here and 2 weeks really is NOT enough time to see everything. Certainly not enough time to stop round the places and experience the towns and cities, but it's been braw! I don't think I have a favourite place, but Rotorua and Queenstown are up there! Auckland didn't have much to offer, but I suppose it depends on what everyone is looking to experience. I've bathed in natural boiling spring pools, white water rafted, quad biked, luged and snowboarded - I'm quite happy with that!

To be honest, I'd be happy just chilling in Australia! The only thing I really want to see is Ramsay Street (the set of Neighbours) in Melbourne.

Anyway I better head off, maybe update tomorrow with some pics!!

God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 04:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)


Getting ready for snowboarding!

overcast 9 °C

We left the wonderful town of Queenstown today and did a 5 hour drive to Methven, a tiny little village at the foot of Mount Hutt - the place for SNOWBOARDING!

I'm getting a few comments (maw & paw) about injuries and worries - stop worrying! I'm not going to do anything stupid, and I'll keep my board firmly on the ground - I promise. Plus maw, I bought some cheap bumper shorts today so I'll be very safe!! No more pessimistic comments!

We went luging yesterday which was quite fun. Basically just a littl go kart that goes down the mountain. I also found a little shop yesterday that sells IRN-BRU!!! But I didn't buy any as I'm addicted to Sprite these days.

So me and Jane are going boarding tomorrow but I don't think the rest of the group are as they have even less money than us. We're staying in a little hostel for the next two nights, and they have free WiFi access - the first place in the whole of New Zealand with free internet - it's great! Tomorrow I'll upload some photos (I can't be bothered doing it tonight)

We're only an hour away from Christchurch so luckily after boarding we've got a short drive to the city, then we'll fly off to Melbourne on Sunday. I'm quite sad to be leaving New Zealand - it's one of the most beautiful countries I've ever been. The scenery is spectacular - and I'm also proud to say we drove through another area of where Lord Of The Rings got filmed today!

OK.. Bed time and an early start!

God Bless xx

Posted by cheryl.j. 05:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged transportation Comments (0)


Snow and Mountain Land

snow 2 °C


We're in the lovely town of Queenstown! It's blue skies and snow topped mountains, tonnes of ski/boarding shops and I could honestly live here forever!

We arrived here yesterday from Wanaka - the town we planned to snowboard in, but unfortunately there wasn't any snow, so we didn't get to. Instead we wandered around town, I bought some lovely goggles, and then me Ian and Jane went to 'Puzzling World' - a building full of optical illusions and mazes - I felt a bit sick afterwards, bit of a waste of money!

So we arrived in Queenstown last night and then went out to the pub - the first pub we've actually been in in New Zealand. Me and Elisa had a great time whilst the boys played pool. Me and Elisa got up today, got a full-english breaky and had a few coffees in a wee cafe. Everyone and everything is so laid back here, it's great!

OK, I think we're going luging now! Speak soon, byeeeeeeeeee!

God Bless xx

Posted by cheryl.j. 19:22 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)


Somewhere in the South Island

rain 11 °C
View New Zealand / Australia on cheryl.j.'s travel map.

We've ended up in a wee town called Haaste, well I say a 'town', its really just a place on the road with a motel, lodge and petrol station - but it has showers so we're spending the night. We drove to Franz Josef Glacier town today with the intention of walking on the glacier or at least having a look, but the weather's been raining non-stop and the cloud cover has been very low, so unfortunately we had to keep driving.

Luckily though, we're out the room early and then driving to Wanaka to go SNOWBOARDING tomorrow!!!!!!!! Woo hoo! I'm so excited! I think we're staying there for 2 nights so we should have a good time.

Yesterday we watched the annual winter-swim in Westport. The beaches along the coast were absolutely beautiful, and we also stopped to check out Pancake Rocks - basically big rocks in the ocean that are pancake shaped!

Sorry this is a boring entry, nothing exciting to report as we've been driving in the rain all day. Hopefully the next few days will be a bit more adventurous and exciting!

Hope everyone's well at home!

Much love, God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 02:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lodging Comments (1)


South Island

sunny 11 °C

Hey everyone, hope you're all well? The last few days have been awesome with many activites and alot of road tripping south! We left Rotorua and travelled to Taupo where me and the boys did quad biking in the mountains - it was absolutely amazing! The girls did skydiving - and there was no way I was going to try that! Afterwords we drove to River Valley next to Taihipe. We arrived at night so didn't get to see the scenery, but the next morning we were amazed. We were in a huge valley which had a river flow through it (hence the name) and it was here we did Category 5 White Water Rafting (cat. 6 is the highest) So.. as some of you are aware, I have two fears: deep water and leeches - this place had both in the same place. Hand on heart though, I absolutely loved it, despite it being 5/6 degrees celcius and sooooooo cold! Part of the rapids had a 2 and a half metre drop! I'm very glad I did it in the end!

Next day we drove to Wellington and got the ferry to Picton. I met a mad swearing scots-man on the ferry - he was Scotland personified, and the boys had no idea what he was talking about, quite funny. So 3 and half hours later we arrived on the south island in a little eery town called Picton. There's been a lot of mist around so it looked like the 'Silent Hill' movie at night! Slept the night in a car park and woke up to a gorgeous harbour with mountains and blue skys - lovely!! So that was today (it's quite difficult remembering everything we've done!) So.. we left Picton today and drove through the mountains to Westport and as it's my birthday (now) we're staying in a little lodge by the beach. We managed to do a washing, and the boys cooked a beef stir-fry with noodles. I went out to get my washing, came back in, and they had the candles lit and lots of balloons everywhere! This site has WiFi access too, so everyones been on my laptop uploading their photos to Facebook etc. Hence, this post has a few photos!! (You lucky folk!!)

Tomorrow, as it's my birthday, we might go quad biking again, but we might go on a caving expedition somewhere. There's so much to do in the South Island so we have a lot more time to do things and spend in places, so hopefully we won't be rushing away from places too much!

I can't believe we've been here nearly a week, time is flying by so quickly!
There's a little bit of talk about going to Bangkok for a few days after Sydney as supposedly it's dirt cheap and our flight goes via Thailand anyway, but that's just a suggestion and depends entirely on everyones money situation!!

So.... I think that's a long enough update!! Hope you're all well..

Here's some photies...

God Bless x

Posted by cheryl.j. 05:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged photography Comments (3)

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