Friday, August 5, 2011

The Equator, Uganda

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As much fun as I had in Rwanda and Uganda the journey home to New York was not a fun one to say the least. It started with a 9-hour car ride on dirt roads in Uganda then a flight from Entebbe to Nairobi then another flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam and then another flight from Amsterdam to New York and then a 2-hour car ride stuck in traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge! The trip was worth it though and I’d do it over and over again to get to see gorillas in the wild! The 9-hour car ride was pretty bad and in typical “this is Africa” fashion we weren’t told that it was going to be a 9-hour car ride so I wasn’t quite prepared for it and spent 9-hours feeling like I was going to puke! We did get to have a fun stop though on the Equator in Uganda when we crossed hemispheres. There are a few little touristy structures that have gone up around the line because so many tourists stop there so of course we had to stop there and take pictures too! My dad and I posed with him on the Southern hemisphere and me on the North and then I took a photo of my feet on either side of the line so I was in both hemispheres at once!

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We also paid a few dollars to watch a demonstration of the Coriolis effect, but apparently I have learned since that it is a total tourist scam! The belief is that the Coriolis force influences the direction water drains in the hemispheres going clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and doesn’t turn at all when you are on the equator where the Coriolis force is at zero. However the Coriolis effect only affects large bodies of water and winds like tornadoes and hurricanes. It has no effect on small bodies of water like that in a bowl and the demonstration we watched at the border is just amateur slight of hand magic where the person doing the demonstration purposefully swirls the water to make the water drain in a certain direction. The force is also very weak right on the equator so there would definitely be no difference that close to the equator even if it did turn small bodies of water. Oh well it was still fun to watch! If you don’t believe me you can check out the Snopes article here. One last thing about visiting the equator- make sure you wear lots of sunscreen! It is extremely hot and I got very sunburned (as you can see by my bright red ankles in the above photo) and as I type this I am still putting aloe on to keep from peeling more than two weeks later!

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