Category Archives: Travel

My Favorite Place in the World

Last week my family spent the day at Universal in Orlando. We have been dying to visit the new Harry Potter World, and this was the only time we would get to go while my sister was home from school. It was seriously one of my favorite days ever, so get ready for a kind of long post with a lot of pictures! We are huge Harry Potter fans over here. I grew up on the books and secretly hoped a letter from Hogwarts would arrive on my 11th birthday. As expected, no letter arrived, and my heart broke a little.IMG_0263We stayed in the new hotel on Universal property so we could get into the park an hour before everyone else. We have never done that before, but it was completely worth it! We stayed at Cabana Bay and it was really cool. I wish we had more time to just hang out at the hotel. There was a huge pool and a couple restaurants that looked pretty good. We have been to the parks before over Christmas break, and it is always terribly crowded. However, having that extra hour was so fantastic. We could really take our time to look around without tons of people crowding around.

We actually got into the park about 15 minutes earlier than expected, and booked it straight to the new Gringotts ride. It was incredible. I felt like I was actually in Diagon Alley and Gringotts was so cool to walk through. All of the Goblins were moving and looking at us as we walked past them. I really don’t love roller coasters, so the ride was not my favorite, but it was really neat to look at everything.IMG_0139IMG_0133IMG_0132After Gringotts we went to pick out a new wand. We settled on the Elder Wand and got an interactive one. There are spots all around Diagon Alley, and the older Hogsmeade, that are interactive. You wave your wand, and sometimes say a spell, and a door will unlock or a fountain will turn on. It must be so cool for J.K. Rowling to see hundreds of people walking around in a world she created, carrying wands and casting spells.OlivandersWe spent a couple of hours just looking around. We went into all the shops and looked in all of the windows. We also got a few butter beers. The frozen ones are the best!IMG_0235IMG_0365IMG_0183IMG_0234IMG_0229IMG_0220IMG_0223IMG_0216Weasley'sIMG_0203IMG_0190We all agreed that our favorite part was Knockturn Alley. First thing in the morning we were literally the only ones there. It was really dark, so it was hard to take pictures, but it was awesome. There was a big shop in there, where I got a Deathly Hallows mug, and was full of Death Eater masks and also housed the Vanishing Cabinet.IMG_0171IMG_0172IMG_0170Another one of my favorite parts was the Hogwarts Express. It connected Universal and Islands of Adventure and was so cool. The inside of the train looked right out of the movies! Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure was way more crowded than Diagon Alley. We went straight to ride the Hogwarts Castle ride. Again, I don’t like the actual ride, but I love walking through the castle and looking at everything in the ride. It is all so detailed that I see new things every time I ride it.IMG_0260IMG_0267IMG_0270After the castle ride, we had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and walked through some of the shops.

We spent a little more time in Islands of Adventure before heading back to Universal. We really love the Seuss area. There is a little bakery in Seuss Landing that has the best sweets. I usually get a brownie that is always delicious. It is our little tradition to stop there and get a snack.

We went back to Universal to see Diagon Alley one more time before we left. It was getting crowded and harder to see things when we went back.

We rode a couple more rides before we left. We rode Transformers and my sisters rode Rip Ride Rocket. We decided to leave the park for dinner and ate at Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. It was a really great way to end the night.IMG_0283 IMG_0290I was so impressed with Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure the first time we went, but Diagon Alley was really incredible. I can’t believe how realistic it is and how much detail is everywhere. It is amazing. If you are any kind of Harry Potter fan, I highly recommend taking a trip to Harry Potter World!

Utah

Last week, my dad and I took a quick trip to Utah to visit my little sister! I haven’t been to Utah since I moved home last November, and I really didn’t realize how much I missed it there. I lived in Utah for a little over 4 years, and it is a special place to me. We spent time in Provo and Logan, which are both small towns, but are wonderful places to live. I spent a lot of time in Logan last year with my sister, and it quickly became one of my favorite places! It is probably the only place in Utah I can see myself living one day. It is beautiful in Cache Valley, and everyone is so friendly!

Wednesday we spent a little time in Provo, and I got to visit BYU for a little while. DSC_8470DSC_8471DSC_8473DSC_8474DSC_8476

When I left in November, Provo was starting to update the Downtown streets. It could be such a neat area, but most of the buildings and shops were really run down and needed a lot of work. They have made a lot of progress, and it was fun to see the changes. Pioneer Book was my favorite new store front! I love the giant book ends!DSC_8485

Thursday morning we drove up to Logan to see Hannah. It’s about 2 1/2 hours north of Provo and is a really pretty drive. We made a quick stop at the Brigham City LDS Temple. I’ve only seen it from the highway before this, and I loved seeing it up close!DSC_8505 DSC_8498 DSC_8496We were in Logan until Sunday, and spent a lot of time visiting with Hannah and looking around Logan. We drove through the canyon, and stopped a couple times to get out and walk around.DSC_8542IMG_5460-0.JPGIMG_5461.JPGDSC_8566DSC_8613DSC_8548We had lunch Friday at our favorite local restaurant, Herm’s Inn. We always stop here when we’re in Logan. Their french toast is the best! and the hot chocolate is pretty great too.DSC_8622

We also drove by the Logan LDS Temple. This is one of my very favorite temples! If you ever get a chance to visit one, you should! They are so big and beautiful!DSC_8627My sister plays volleyball in college, so our main reason for going to Utah was to catch a couple of her matches! It was my first time getting to see her play in college and it was so fun! She has worked so hard, and it’s great to see her do so well!DSC_8536IMG_5415.JPGWe left Sunday afternoon, and I had a great time! I wish I was able to get out there more often, but I’m thankful that Hannah’s still out there and I can visit her!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (@lizzie_bella_) and Twitter (@lizziebellablog) for more updates!

 

 

Utah iPhone Pictures!

I’ve been in Utah this week and I’ve been having a great time! My dad and I came out to watch a couple of my sister’s volleyball matches! I love watching her play and I wish I was able to see her more often. I will do a full post about Utah when I get home, but for now I thought I’d share a few pictures on my iPhone.

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May Recap!

I can’t believe May is already over! This year is flying by! I did not get to blog as much during May as I would have liked, so I thought I’d do a little recap of what I did and some of my favorite things this month.

Watching: Vikings. I LOVE this show! Most of my family history comes from Scandinavia and I’m pretty sure we have viking ancestors. I just finished season 1 on Amazon and have not stopped thinking about it. Unfortunately, season 2 is not available on Amazon Prime yet, so I’m trying to find another way to watch it. They just look so cool!VikingsPictureReading: I just finished the Maze Runner series. I read the first one a few months ago and just got around to finishing the series. It’s another dystopian series like Hunger Games and Divergent and is also getting made in to a movie pretty soon. I enjoyed it for the most part.  The second book was kind of slow for me, but it definitely picked back up in the third.

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Listening: This past month I’ve been listening to a lot of Langhorne Slim. He seems like such an interesting man, but I think he’s awesome and I’d love to see his show someday. This one is one of my favorites!

Loving: Disney and Epcot trips with my family. We’ve been to Disney an unusual amount this year. We usually only go once a year, but we’ve already gone 3 times. We took one trip to Epcot a few weeks ago, and then last weekend we went with my cousin and her kids. I LOVE my little cousins and it was so much fun to go with themIMG_4469

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We love our Mickey Bars!

Over the past couple months I have made a little bit of progress on the blankets I have been working on. I really, really love them and cannot wait to finish them!

BlanketDSC_7865This blanket is definitely one of my favorites and I’m so close to being done! I made the mistake of not buying enough of the cream yarn at the beginning, and the yarn I bought recently to finish it doesn’t match quite right. So, I think I only have enough to make a couple more rows. It won’t be as big as I originally wanted, but I think I will still love it!

This chunky blanket is growing very slowly.  One skein of yarn only gets me a few rows, so I’ll be working on this one for a while! I think it will be a great blanket for the winter so I hope to have it done before it gets too cold. Lucky for me in Florida, that probably won’t happen until December!DSC_7859My newest project is a chevron baby blanket. Lately I have been loving this color combination. I think pink and navy are so pretty together, and I love the way this blanket is turning out! DSC_7868I found this pattern in one of my crochet books. I have quite a few crochet books that I like to look at, but I feel like I use patterns out of this one pretty often. The patterns are easy to follow, and I really like that they add charts for each one. If you’re looking for a kind of all-in-one book, I think this one is great, especially for beginners!DSC_7878.NEF

 

 

Last Volleyball Tournament and New Projects

This weekend was the last tournament of the season! It still feels like it barely started! Friday night I got to go to the Florida Region Volleyball Award Banquet. The guest speaker was Stacy Sykora!

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She went to the Olympics three times and won a silver medal! She was pretty great! I’ve watched her play for years, so it was really neat to get to hear about her experiences. She passed around the medal and I was beyond excited to hold it!

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I was also able to watch a little of the Florida Men’s Professional team play.  They were awesome! It made me miss BYU volleyball games so much!

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It is so crazy how high they can jump and how hard they can hit! It is so fun to watch!

My team did pretty well this weekend! We made it to the gold bracket, but lost early in the playoffs. My team has improved so much and it has been so fun to watch!

With volleyball season winding down, I will hopefully have more time to devote to the blog and new projects! I’ve been working on a few new things that I will share with you as soon as I can!

I’m working on something really neat with this yarn from KnitPicks! This is my first time using the Brava Worsted, and I really like it! Plus, there is a great color selection.

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I can’t show you what I’m making yet. It’s a gift and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

I’ve also come up with another mandala pattern! I really like this one and I’m so excited to share it! Hopefully I can get it up for you within the next week!

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Disney World!

Hannah is home for Spring Break this week, so we took a day trip to Orlando to go to Disney World! We haven’t been to the Magic Kingdom for a few years, and we were excited to see the new changes.

We left our house about 6:30am and got to the park a little before 10. It was rainy and kind of cold in the morning, but ended up being a really beautiful day!

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We went to the new Fantasyland first! I loved it! They added Belle’s house and Beast’s castle and the Little Mermaid ride and castle. It was awesome!

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LittleMermaidRideBeauty and the Beast was my favorite movie when I was little, and I loved seeing the house and the castle! The little show was kind of disappointing, but I liked getting to walk through the house and  library. The Little Mermaid ride, however, was so awesome! I loved every minute of it!

While we were in Fantasyland, we stopped at Gaston’s restaurant and had a couple of sticky buns.  Disney World sticky buns are the best! They’re huge, so a few people can split one, and they are delicious!

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We spent the rest of the day walking around and riding other rides.  It wasn’t too crowded, so we didn’t have to wait in many lines. It was nice because we didn’t feel rushed to fit everything in. We we were able to take our time and ride a couple of rides more than once!

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The day ended up pretty perfect! The weather cleared up and was warm and sunny!

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We ate dinner at a little restaurant on Main Street we never knew about.  I think it is called the Plaza Restaurant. It was tiny inside, but really pretty, and the food was pretty good!  They told us it would be a 45min to an hour wait, but they got us in within 10 minutes! We left the park after dinner, and got home about 11:00.

Hannah goes back to school early Sunday morning.  It’s been really fun having her home and going to Disney with her here!

Uganda! Part 3, Rwanda!


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The second half of the traveling week we went to Rwanda.  Rwanda was kind of a rough trip for me. It was one of the hardest parts of my time in Uganda, but also one of my favorites.  I learned a lot while I was there and I think it was one of the most valuable things we did.

We left for Rwanda early in the morning.  It was supposed to be a 12 hour bus ride, but ended up taking close to 19 hours!  I get incredibly motion sick, so I had a pretty hard time on the bus.  The roads were in really bad condition and I think there was a good portion of the trip where we didn’t get above 20-30mph. It was a nightmare!  Our drivers were awesome though!  One guy drove most of the trip, and it was a difficult drive!

After a couple of hours, we made it to the Equator! We got to get out and walk around for a little while.  We watched an experiment about how water flushes.  On one side of the equator, water spins to the left and on the other side it spins to the right.  Right on the equator it doesn’t spin.

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We stopped for lunch at a hotel.  We had a big group of about 35, so whenever we all needed to eat at the same time, it took forever.  We were at that hotel for about 2 hours.  We got to the border around 8pm and it took us a couple hours to get through. After we exited Uganda we had to walk in the dark to get to the Rwanda side.  It took about an hour to get the whole group through and then we had to wait for our buses to get come. That took almost another hour.  Then the border men made us unload all of our luggage from the buses and went through each suitcase one by one.  It took an eternity.  We had to show our passports again to get on the bus.  My professor said it has never been that difficult to get through and never usually takes that long. So, we were really late getting to our hotel room.

We got up thursday morning and went to do some genocide memorial stuff.  It was all really sad and a little overwhelming.  We went to the memorial that had a museum attached.  The memorial had mass graves holding over 250,000 bodies.  It’s crazy to me that they are still finding bodies of victims and have a couple mass graves that are empty that they expect to eventually fill.  It was really sad and I didn’t really feel like taking pictures of a lot of the things I saw. One room was filled with skeletons of victims and another was filled with thousands of photos of people who were killed that were donated by family members.  That afternoon we visited a genocide site.  It was a church where I think between 5 and 6,000 people were killed. Inside the church they had thousands of skulls and bones of the victims that they had collected.  There were also coffins that the guide said held about 100 skeletons each.  It was a very said and overwhelming day.  One of our guides was 2 when the genocides took place.  Both of her parents were killed and she was raised by her 5 year old brother who had to keep them in hiding for a while.  Another guide that was with us lost his entire family.  He was the only survivor and was 16.  He had to hide in the woods for 2 months just living off of whatever he could find.  What I think is amazing is that the people I’ve met have been able to move on.  They are generally happy people. I could not imagine living through that and being able to move and on and have a happy life. I am so amazed by people I met there.  They have suffered more than I could ever imagine and have been able to have happy and successful lives.  They have so much faith and are just really inspiring. Rwanda is beautiful too. It’s a lot hillier and greener than what I saw in Kampala. The difference between Kampala and Kigali is pretty amazing.  The streets are actually well paved and there are lane lines and street lights and traffic signals.  I liked having smoother rides for a couple of days!

Thursday night we ate at the hotel Mille Collines.  This is where Hotel Rwanda took place.  It was nice to end the night where there was a positive ending.  The hotel manager turned the hotel into a refugee camp and saved at least 1,000 lives.  We watched the movie a few nights ago and it was cool to eat dinner where that took place.  They had awesome food and a really great live band and I had a really good time.

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Thursday we got up early and went to a place called Azizi Life.  You can learn more about it here! They arranged for us to spend a day in a village with a family. We were split in to small groups and sent to different villages with a translator.  It was a really great experience!  They gave us skirts to wear and wrapped our head in scarves. I loved getting to talk with and understand these people a little better. We were with two women who were so kind and so happy!  We started out the day cultivating. It was hard work and I didn’t really enjoy it. I can’t believe these women do it everyday.  They are so strong. We then cut grass to feed the cow.  While we were cutting grass, I met a little girl.  I think she was about 4 or 5 years old and was absolutely adorable! She really liked me and was by my side for the rest of the day. I just loved her!  It was really awesome to see that even though we didn’t speak the same language and have completely different lives, we were still able to communicate and become friends!

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We also went and fetched water.  The village was on the side of the hill and the water was in the valley, so we had to walk down the hill to get the water, then walk back up.  It was hard.  The water was heavy and some of the pathways we had to take were steep and narrow, and the women we were with do it multiple times a day.

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After this we had lunch.  We ate avocados, cassava and beans.  I really dislike avocados, but I didn’t feel like I could turn them down. I’m very proud with myself that I ate the whole thing, but it didn’t sit well with me, so I felt a little off the rest of the day.  lunch

I also met a little girl who knits. She had two tiny little sticks as her knitting needles and was a hundred times better than me.  I tried to get her to show me her work, but she was so focused on knitting she didn’t have time for my pictures.

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After lunch, some of the other groups and their hosts came to our village and we were taught to weave.  It was actually just braiding, but the materials were really cool. They use sisal plants to get the string and it was really cool to watch them get it and dye it.  The colors were so bright! I got to make two bracelets.

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While we were waiting to start weaving, some of the kids and women started jumping rope, and were having a great time!

This lady is 50 years old and was having a blast!  I love the joy they have in their life.  They talk about how incredibly blessed they are but they have so little by our standards.  I just feel like I need to learn to be as grateful for what I have as they are for what they have. After weaving, all of the women started singing and dancing.  It was really fun to watch and the little kids were so cute when they joined in.

We left and went back to the hotel.  It was our first night of down time and it was good to not have anything to do.  We were able to relax and hang out for the evening.  I got sick that night, so I was able to fly back to Kampala the next morning.  It was just a 45 minute flight, so a lot better than a long, bumpy bus ride.

I had a great experience in Rwanda.  It was harder for me than I expected, but I learned so much and had so many great experiences!  I need to find a way to go back!

Uganda! Part 2, Safari!

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My third week in Uganda was my favorite!  We spent the beginning of the week on safari and then spent a couple days in Rwanda.

I had the best time on the safari!  It was a long couple of days, but I loved it!  We left monday morning at 5:30am.  It was about a 5 hr ride to Murchison Falls where we were able to get out for about 15 minutes and look at the Falls before hurrying to catch a ferry to cross the Nile.

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My friend Jessica and me!

Right at the ferry was a really nice resort where we had lunch.  It was right along the Nile and we could see elephants drinking from the river while we ate.  We had about 45 minutes after lunch to hang out at the pool at the resort.  It was so beautiful!  Right outside the entrance we saw and elephant and some baboons!

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After lunch we went on a boat ride on the Nile.  We saw a lot of hippos and warthogs and a few crocodiles.  The tour lasted about 3 hours and we went to the bottom of the falls that we visited earlier that day.  It was so beautiful!  Pictures do not do it justice.

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After the boat ride we went on a game drive.   We rode in big vans with pop up roofs so we could stand and look out the top or climb out and sit on the roof!   There were also railings around the top so we could climb out and sit.  By the end of the day, I had a layer of orange dust on everything! We didn’t see a whole lot of animals that night.  We saw a couple elephants and a lot of antelope and warthogs.  We were expecting to see a lot of giraffe, but we didn’t see one until the second day.

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The resort was a lot further away than we expected. Our driver, Jeffrey, was in a hurry to get to the hotel, especially after the sun went down. Jeffrey was a crazy driver and we hit a python, porcupine and bunnies while we were driving.  The resort we were going to was supposed to be a 5 star resort, but the road we were on looked like we were probably the second car to ever use it. It turns out they took the back way to the resort so we could have a longer game drive.  All of a sudden we made a turn and the hotel was right in front of us! Our hotel was AWESOME! We had a really great dinner and sat on the balcony to eat. The hotel was right along the Nile and we could see a few huge hippos along the side.  Later that night we were leaving our room and there was a hippo literally right outside our door.  It was massive and kind of scary.  We were on the second floor so we watched for a little while and waited for him to move a little away to take a picture. The guard said he’s seen them charge people and was chased himself, so we definitely kept our distance.

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Apparently this resort was Kony’s hideout.  He and his men would come and take over the resort to hide out. That made it kind of creepy to me, but it was still beautiful.  It shut down for a while, but was recently reopened and renovated by a Japanese businessman.  I guess the beds in Asia are super hard, so he put those kind of mattresses in the rooms.  It was like sleeping on the hard floor, but I was so tired I feel right asleep and I don’t think I even moved all night.

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The next morning we left the hotel at about 7:15.  We went on another game drive on the way out of the park which was a bit more successful.  I finally saw a giraffe, so I was really happy!  It took about 3 more hours to get out of the park and we saw a few more animals.  We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant and made it back to Kampala that evening.  We were leaving for Rwanda early the next morning, so I spent that night packing and getting some rest.

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Uganda! Part 1

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I thought I’d spend a few days and recap my summer in Uganda.  I went with the political science department at BYU for about 2 months to work on research.  My whole experience was so crazy! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I even went.

I traveled to and from Uganda with my friend Jessica.  We had a long layover in London and got to leave the airport for a few hours! We visited Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square before eating lunch in a little underground restaurant.

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We arrived in Uganda at about 8:00am. Our friend Alfred picked us up and drove us to our apartment in Kampala.  We lived in an area of Kampala called Ntinda. We lived in a little walled in complex with a guard. He had a loaded gun, but only one bullet.  If he shot that bullet, he had to pay for the next one, so it was incentive not to shoot unless he had to.

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We spent the first couple of weeks exploring Kampala and working on my professor’s research. One of my first nights there, we visited the Muslim Mosque.  This Mosque is the second largest in Africa and was built by Gaddafi as a gift to Uganda.  We also climbed the three hundred and four stairs to the top of the minaret to see the city and the beautiful sunset.

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We also visited Idi Amin’s torture chambers at the Mengo Palace of the Bugandan Kingdom.  It was kind of a creepy place, especially when you think of all of the horrible things that happened there.  Hundreds were crammed in to each room and the bottom was filled with electrocuted water.  Many died of asphyxiation, while others chose the electrocuted water or were killed by Idi Amin’s soldiers.

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One of my favorite nights was when we went to the culture center right down the road to watch dances.  The show lasted about 3 hours, but I loved every minute of it! They went through the different regions and cultures in Uganda and performed dances from each.  The dances were amazing!  I was so impressed by the performers and their stamina!

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We also got to spend some time at a local deaf school.  My professor’s son was planting a garden there for his Eagle Project.  I went one evening to help pass out cookies and glow sticks to the students.  It was a great experience!  The kids loved the glow sticks and were so friendly!

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I can’t believe I got back from Uganda 5 months ago! It still doesn’t feel like I really went! Part two and three will recap the safari and Rwanda trip and will be up in the next couple of weeks!