Uganda Week 7
Claire’s Uganda Trip Week 7
24th October to 30th October, 2013
Today is Monday and we are heading for a storm. It has brewing for a while now. It has gone quite dark and there is distant menacing thunder rolling around and a threat of rain in the air and so I am writing this sitting on the balcony watching and waiting for the imminent downpour, but I wish the silly lake flies or perhaps storm flies would stop biting me! I must stop being so tasty!
A wonderful day out.
Last Saturday five of us went to Entebbe to the Botanic Gardens. It was a wonderful day seeing lots of interesting things. We decided to meet up in the city as it was central to all of us as we were coming from different areas and the matatu left from the taxi park. After we had found the right one and got on one as near the front of the queue as possible, as they leave in order the front one first, we settled down to face the hour long journey a head of us. We went armed with water as the day threatened to be hot. Lala, Alison and I had already waited for nearly an hour for a matatu from Muyenga so to face another hour in the heat of the day, as we didn’t leave Kampala until twelve. was quite daunting. However, we all met up and our journey to Entebbe started.
It was about one when we arrived just outside Entebbe near to the Botanical Gardens. Again when we arrived the prices were 3,000//= for Ugandans and 10,000//= for everyone else. We tried to explain that we lived in Uganda but they weren’t having it. I think it was the best 10,000//= shillings I have ever spent. A man started to walk with us and was telling us about all the trees and what you could see in the gardens. He explained that it was planted by the English years ago with trees from all over the world.
The first thing he showed us a cinnamon tree and took off a piece of bark which smelt so lovely, really Christmassy! This was then followed by a sand paper tree whose leaves are just like sand paper. The underneath of the leaves have little tiny spines on them and ladies use this to file their nails. We then went to a lip something tree, unfortunately I can’t remember the actual name of the bush, but it had very small red berries that when you crush between your fingers red liquid squirts out and then you can use it as lip stick. I ate one of the berries but it didn’t taste of anything, but it dyed my fingers a lovely red colour so I can why it makes a good lip covering.
Just after this we passed a tree with some really funny looking fruit and he explained that the inside of this frit was used for HIV/aids medicine, but he did not say its name. It is a really important tree as HIV/Aids is really rife here and there are lots of posters asking people if they have had the ’love’ test yet and would their love stand the test and to go their nearest clinic.
A nutmeg tree flower was next on the agenda and an explanation of how mace is obtained from the bark. There was 300 year old mahogany tree growing really tall and straight and some ebony trees which I thought would be much darker than they appeared to be, but apparently inside the trunk is much darker. There was a kopok tree which we are going to go back and see in December because at the moment it is in flower but then in December the buds open and fall to the ground spilling out their contents of Kapok. Apparently the locals come and take photos of it and say that they have been to England to see the snow, because it looks as if it has been snowing!
On our travels around the gardens I was taken to see the most massive spider called a dragon spider, the others did not want to come. It was massive as you can see. I won’t like him in my room but on a web outside was fine.
There were many species which we have back in the UK like Morning Glories, English pipes, mint and another flower which I recognised but could not remember the name. It was like a big yellow daisy. There were several amazing specimens one being the ‘cannon ball’ tree. Our unofficial guide told us ‘the fruit looked like a football that was why it was called a cannon ball tree’! The flowers were used for making perfume, I was not surprised they smelt absolutely lovely.
Another was the ‘crocodile’ tree. Our guide told us that the roots grow along the surface of the ground because of the volcanic rock underneath preventing the roots from going down, but I think it must do this anyway, but the roots really do look like the knobbly backs of these prehistoric creatures.
Another tree which was interesting was a Frankincense tree which they ‘tap’ to get the fragrance out similar to ‘tapping’ a rubber tree. He scraped some onto a small stick and I carried it around with me ages. The Umbrella tree of North America was another one which fascinated me as the outside covering of the flowers are yellow, soft and furry and as they dry look like mouse skins.
After we had walked round the gardens for ages we came to a sort of jungle type place and apparently the whole area was like it but was eventually cleared so the trees and other plants could be planted but this part was left as a reminder of the original state. It was where ‘Tarzan’ was filmed as there are a lot of the vines growing there and it was indeed very jungle like, you could imagine encountering all sorts of wild things!
We then walked up quite a hill and the view was absolutely stunning looking out over Lake Victoria. We were told to order our lunch at this very small café place and Talapia fish and chips was ordered. It sometimes takes over an hour perhaps an hour and half sometimes to get your food after you have ordered it so it’s just as well to order it in advance.
Our guide explained that it was good to eat Talapia but NOT Nile Perch as when there was the genocide in Rwanda the majority of the dead bodies, which had been thrown into the sea, were washed up here at the gardens. Nile perch can grow between 400 to 600 kilograms which is huge and people use to eat them. However, after the genocide they cut open some of the perch and found fingers, arms and watches etc inside the perch and so they are now said not to be good to eat because they eat dead bodies. That must have been so frightful, seeing the bodies and the contents inside the fish, it is not worth thinking about. I can’t imagine it.
Anyway after ordering our food we set off again, Alison and I being the only ones with any interest and energy left (both the oldest ones)! We went to look over a high cliff and then to see the monkeys!!!!!Oh it was so amazing. First we saw black and white Colobus monkeys in a tree (Of course they are black and white they don’t come in other colours!)
Then we saw some Velvet monkeys but they might have been Vervet monkeys. Anyway it doesn’t make any difference because they were so cute and tame. I fed them ‘G’ nuts.
I was enjoying feeding quite a large male monkey when the guide said he was the male leader of the pack and you could tell by his bright blue genitals. The more of a boss he is the brighter blue the colour. I did not know this. He was lovely and really gentle. I tried to tease him by holding onto a ‘G’ nut in between my fingers instead of letting him help himself from the palm of my hand. He really wanted the nut and he tried really hard to get it, and was gentle. I let him have the nut in the end. The photo shows me teasing him.
There were six week old monkeys, some were four months old and some six months old. There was a really sad one so I fed him a few more because his mum did not want him to be around anymore and was trying to chase him away. There were also some which had been born the day before, they were so small and all huddled in close to their mums. Generally they were lovely but one monkey bit the tail of another monkey so it would run away so he/she could have a nut but I wasn’t having that until he/she had calmed down so they had to wait. Their little face was so inquisitive and lovely trying to work out what was going on that I did give him/her some nuts in the end.
I could have stayed here for the rest of the day but unfortunately we had to go back to our Talapia and chips which we still had to wait 40 minutes for. It had taken nearly two hours from ordering the food to eating it, still the view was amazing and the company of friends good.
While I was living in the NCDC house I started a collection of things and so I have added to this a lot while I was there…. but when we got back to Kampala we went into a supermarket, and of course you have to be searched, and I had forgotten my bag of treasures…they were none too impressed and put my bag through a scanner as well!!
Anyway it a great day out and I learnt lots. The world is so diverse and wonderful. Im so lucky to be here!
With much and thanks as always
Claire’s weekly updates have now moved to the posts page – click here for Week 9