Claire’s trip week 15
16th December to 20th December
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A RELAXING NEW YEAR!
Well it’s nearly Christmas and Renske and I are going to go to Enfuzi Campsite, 18kms from Fort Portal in the West of Uganda, on Saturday. We are hiring a car from a friend and because I am a bit worried about driving, as it is so crazy here on the roads, I took it for a test drive on Sunday and yes it is scary so, yes please I could do with your thoughts. By the time we get to Fort Portal I will be an old hand and as confident as everyone else. I am looking forward to the holiday and apparently it is beautiful so will send some photos when I get back. I am going to take my computer with me so can stay in touch through skype and e-mail as I know I am going to miss not being at home like crazy. Anyway on a more cheerful note…
I know now where all the old church kneelers (Hassocks) go when they die! They all come here and are fitted on to backs of push bikes so they can take a friend with them. A great idea. Two struts are fitted from the centre of the back wheel, one each side, and the struts are just long enough to reach over the mud guard at the back. The two struts are then fixed together with a couple more struts and then a kneeler placed and tied on top of this. Ingenious! The person sitting on the kneeler then dangles his legs either side of the back wheel and the one on the saddle does all the work! It really works well!
The other day it wasn’t raining so I took myself off for a walk at lunchtime and went off the beaten track which we have been advised not to do so, but there were loads of people about so thought it was o.k. It was amazing, I found quite a little village with loads of shops selling all sorts of things, it was fascinating as the range of things was so diverse from used car tyres to washing up liquid, Christmas decorations and bags of shredded cabbage, which I bought for 300//=. Great for stir-fry’s! It was all so tucked away that you won’t know this thriving busy retail centre was there at all.
While I was mooching about a small boy came up to me offering me a small plastic bag, like a sandwich bag, full of what looked like urine. (We were told in our training that people sell anything so be careful!) So when he said ‘You buy?’ my immediate response was ‘No, thank you!’ but this was not a smart move and it back fired on me. Lesson one never make assumptions! Anyway, he followed me for a bit and then gave up which made me feel really bad. By now it was quite hot and I had forgotten my water so was just thinking about finding a drink when I met a couple of girls who were indeed drinking this same liquid from a similar bag. Apparently you insert a small plastic straw into one of the corners of the bag and drink it, its orange squash! So I retraced my steps in order to track down the small boy but alas I could not find him and so I went back to work, it was time anyway, but also so I could get my water. Since then I have found that they also freeze these bags of squash and sell them as ice pop type lollies. Another really good idea, and I was amazed at myself because I have always been up for anything since I have been here so why did I make that choice, very strange! I hope I am not getting sceptical!
On my way to work this week I saw three lovely little birds. They are about the size of a wren and are brown on the top and brilliant blue at the bottom, so using my lovely bird book found out that they were female ‘red-eared cordon bleu’ birds. They differ from the males because they do not have ‘red-ears’, sort of patches on the sides of their head, like the males. I also saw a lovely butterfly. It had a blue and red stripy body and what looked like lacy wings, with some filled in bits of lacy, but after closer inspection, found them to be black with white spot patches. The body was about 2 cms long. So delicate and pretty. I have attached a couple of pictures from the internet to show the birds and butterfly, at the end of these notes as I did not have my camera with me. I also saw a lovely caterpillar about 2 inches long and black and bright green stripes. On the black stripes it had small bright green circles and on the green stripes small black circles, and he did not hump along it sort of pulled itself along as if it was being pulled by a thread from the other side of the road, but every now and again it would wriggle like a fish on a hook. Picture is from the internet.
I often pass a lot of wildlife along the dirt track I walk along every morning to Tuskys, chickens and their newly hatched broods of some times up to 10 chicks, goats normally three like the three billy goats gruff, one big, one medium and one small, but what I have noticed is the increase in wild dogs. Now, before I came here I made a determined effort to try and get to like big dogs and not to cry every time I saw one. So far I have not cried and have walked straight past them not looking at them just ignoring them and it has been fine, but… today there was a lady walking in front of me and I had passed one dog and she stepped to the side of the road, so thinking that a car or boda was coming I too stepped aside. I then caught up with her and found there was a large dog standing and staring in our direction. After throwing a stone at it, it ran away and hid round the corner at the top of someones drive. She and I got talking and she said she was frightened of dogs as there are now many wild ones as people cannot afford to keep them and throw their puppies out and then they ‘eat and eat until they grow and then there are more dogs!’ ‘They live in the maize but now they cut the maize the dogs come out and they don’t go ‘who, who, who’, before they bite, they just go paf! And then they bite and you sometimes you don’t know!’ I hope I would know if I was bitten by a wild dog! So Mary and I walked together in the hope that there were no more wild dogs to contend with which there weren’t …today! I am still going to be brave as it has taken a lot of nerve to get this far with big dogs and I can’t turn up for work tear-stained every morning can I?
One funny things I have noticed is that the majority of eggs here have very pale yolks, so pale that when you whisk them up the yolk just disappears into white and the whole thing looks white, but you can buy eggs which say ‘Yellow yolks’. I found out that the difference is the pale yolks are wild chickens which wander about eating vegetation while the yellow yolked ones are ‘manufactured’ or’disturbed by people’’, so they eat different things obviously affecting the yolks. Another mystery solved!
A funny thing happened this week to Renske. She was doing toast in the toaster and there was a horrible smell and when she tipped the toaster upside down to get the taost out she found a toasted geeko. It must have have crept in there perhas to keep warm! Poor thing! Talking of smells there has been a really bad smell in our stairway this week and I have looked and looked for the source, but could not find it so asked Bosco to look. I asked him if he managed to find anything and he said ‘All good, it was dropsy from cat’! So all is well again now. It is like walking through a zoo getting to the front door what with rabbits, chickens and now cats, but I am glad this kitten has the strength to climb the stairs because it is so ill.
I seem to have a new hobby or it might be an obsession, but every time I see a small cardboard box I have the urge to cover it in Christmas paper. I bought some lovely foil Christmas wrapping paper, all Christmas wrapping paper is foil, and I deliberate over which design will suit that particular box and then try it, and taking my time, cover it. I have covered three so far. Two have electrical wires and chargers in and one has stationery. Is this sad? I am not sure if it is in response to want to be extra tidy because Laura is so incredibly untidy, or because it’s Christmas I have the need to wrap things up or because I have no work to do during the day and so am bored so have the need to play when I’m at home or is it indeed a new hobby? Anyway, I have three nicely covered boxes for keeping things in. Very satisfying!
Over the last couple of weeks I have felt that there has been something missing and I could not put my finger on it, so I thought and thought and realised that there were two things lacking: one was that world radio had gone off my radio and one was the need for a bowl of custard. I could easily rectify the custard dilemma, buy buying custard powder, which I did, um lovely!!! And then to my utter joy realised I was trying to find world radio on 103.3 instead of 101.3 and yes there it was indeed, back again. Joy of joys! And so the cure for a ‘something lacking feeling’ is a bowl of custard and world radio even if they do talk endlessly about sport!!
Last Sunday I went to Lubaga or Rubaga, to see the Roman Catholic Cathedral with Barbara. Apparently, the early missionaries, had problems pronouncing the word Lubaga so pronounced it with an “r” as in Rubaga so L and R are not really interchangeable, it is just a history thing. Anyway, there was some beautiful singing coming from the church and in the hope that it was a Mass we went in. We slipped down to nearly the front, as that is where Barbara wanted to be, and she whispered quietly to me that she thought they were half way through. It was all in Lugandan or Kiswahili and I had no idea so was reading the ‘’Holy Mass’ leaflet which we bought for 300//=, I was just about to show Barbara that it was a concert given St. Cecelia’s choir when they started to sing ‘The 12 days of Christmas’ so were now sure that it was not a Mass! (Doesn’t bode well for me learning Lugadan!) We did check to see if there was a Mass later but there wasn’t. I felt sorry for Barbara because she so wanted to attend another Mass before she left for England, but it was a lovely concert all the same. It said it started at 2.00 so probably started at 3.00 and was still going strong at 6.30 when we left! It is a lovely Cathedral with lovely stained glass windows and beautiful doomed roof and very peaceful and restful atmosphere. The stone is very pale and although it looks quite new it is quite old as it was built by the White Fathers in 1914 and completed in 1925. They then built a hospital and school on the same hill. St. Marys Cathedral is the seat of the headquarters of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Kampala. It is worth visiting if you are ever near-by!
I have been trying to learn the Ugandan National Anthem. I have learnt one verse and have two more to go. Donald does not know the third verse and so set him some homework to learn it by Friday so we can sing it together on the way home on the last working day before Christmas. But poor Donald he is so grieving, he has certainly lost his ‘bubble’ and I am not sure how to be because he is so sad. He showed me the article in the newspaper about his brother. He was a first year student at university studying statistics and structural engineering. He was 20 and had gone out for the night with friends, like most students do, but had a bit too much to drink, fell over, hit his head on the floor and died of internal bleeding an hour later in hospital. The paper was urging all young people to drink in moderation generally, but particulalry over the Christmas period. Poor Donald!
I had a bit of a shock yesterday as Mathias said that as from January Donald will not be giving me a lift to work any more. I felt like I have just been hit with a shovel! What will I do? who will I talk too and ask questions of? How will I learn things? It really was quite a blow and I worried about it all last night. It is not just because I will miss his company, laughter and frienship but my main concern was that I will now need to get bodas which will be costly everyday and difficult when it rains as they don’t work. Mathias said ‘just get here late’. I told Donald and he was surprised and saddened too. He said ‘There is always a solution to a problem’ which I thought was nice. It also means I might need to move so I am nearer to work so I can walk. It’s all a bit unsettling especially at this time of year. I wonder if things wil be any more settled next year or whether Uganda really is a place of constant change. At least I can never be bored!!!!
Just as well I have been keeping a list of boda drivers then! Since I have been here if I have a ‘nice safe’ boda driver I ask him for his number, so in my phone I have several boda men numbers. I have them in different areas so I try and get one I have had before. However, what amuses me are the brief conversations held with boda drivers in the street. I get asked ‘You come?’ ‘We go?’ ‘Your house? Where’? Also some of them only work in the day and some only at night and if I ring a daytime one too early in the morning his repsonse is ’I am not around’ and if I ring one of the ones who works at night too early in the evening, I obviously get no response but then later on I get a text saying ’Geofrey is available’ or ‘John is waiting’ and when they arrive to ‘pick me’ they either say ’I’m the one’ or ‘I’m the one for you’. It makes me laugh everytime. It sounds as if I am trying to run some sort of boda man agency!
Anyway life here continues to be good with more ups than downs. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year and I’ll send more notes when I return from Fort Portal. God Bless.
Lots of love as ever from Claire xxxxxx