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Uganda Week Five

Claires Uganda Trip Week Five

Funny things I have come across

Pinned to an office notice board in  very prominent position!

What makes a good visitor to an office?

The visitor recognises that the office is a workplace

They have a point

They stick to the point

They know when to leave

Names

I needed to go to Barclays bank and I was asked to meet with Emma. I was as you would expect thinking I was going to meet with a women, but no Emma was a man!

When in the supermarket I was served by a girl called Jon and a girl called Justin. It can get very confusing!

Slogans on Tee shirts

  • Are you going to Cowboy up’ or just lie their bleeding! (What does this mean?)
  • As smart as my smart phone
  • You need to get a straw ‘cos you suck
  • Brother for sale

The bathroom situation!

It is really interesting visiting different toilets here. Each one has something, to recommend it, but what is that something?

You always get a toilet which is start. Sometimes there is a seat actually attached to the toilet in its rightful place, this is always a bonus but sometimes it is propped against the wall and sometimes it is missing altogether. Hey Ho! When needs must….. etc.

Now the paper situation. This can be trickier but what else is your left hand used for after all! If you are left handed you are seen as having special needs anyway so does it matter, but it does mean that I’ll never be able to shake hands with a scout again! Oh well never mind!) (Wearing glasses by the way is also seen has having a special need, because you are incomplete in the eyes of God – I’ve got no chance then!). Anyway back to what I was saying, the paper. If there is paper then this is a time for rejoicing, until you feel the paper which is like cobweb and so you are using your hand anyway!

So what’s next: Sometimes there is a wash basin which is firmly attached to wall otherwise you run the risk of it landing on your feet and needing surgery! There is sometimes a tap which it firmly secured to the wall or just hanging there so it has a directional swing to it when you turn it on. This can lead to a soaking  or a wait of ten minutes while a single drop of water escapes every now and again. It is exciting as to which way it can go. Sometimes there is no basin and no tap. Sometime there are both but rarely are either effective if they are functional.

Now drying your hands, should you have been lucky enough to be able to get them wet in the first place, can involve using an item of clothing hopefully belonging to yourself, secretly it could be belonging to someone else so watch out! Or the wall or the drip dry method where you fling your arms around wildly hoping that the air will evaporate the moisture.

The other feature which tends to be missing is a lock on the door. This is ok if you can reach the door with your foot so you can hold it shut that way. However, one toilet was at least 7 feet away from the door and so unless I discovered my inner Spider Man or found my Mr Tickle tendencies I was stuck. I hunted around for a bin or something I could wedge against the door but there was nothing. Eventually I saw a rusty nail sticking out of the door frame bent at a 90 degree angle, and low and behold this turned and went across the door holding it shut. Hooray for the rusty nail!

There is the other type of toilet called the ‘long drop’ which we go into at this time suffice to say that the name gives it away and good tummy muscles and balance are required!

So unless you go to a hotel having a toilet, a seat, paper, a basin, water and drying facilities is a rarity. It is exciting though to see what you will get! Either way this whole process takes time, a long time.

Kettles

Are commonly seen and are available in most places and are, unlike the bathrooms, effective and functional. However, what is normally missing is a handle. This does not cause any concern until you have boiled the kettle. It now hot and you have to pick it up should you want to access and use the water. Either because I am a ‘Muzungu’ I have more tender skin which allows me to have severe reservations about picking up a recently boiled kettle or I am just chicken! Anyway it’s scary. So you then need to hunt for a cloth which is thick enough so you can pick it up. I have tried other methods which have equally failed:  I have tried staring in a hypnotic way, making my eyes go like the snakes in the Jungle Book, in a vain hope that the kettle will go into a trance like state under my gaze giving up its contents.

I now know why people take flasks everywhere. My question is still: how did they get the water into the flask in the first place in order to pour it out. Is there a kettle somewhere with a handle? If so where?

Seen on a cleaners overalls:

Hygiene is Health

Health is Wealth

Sign outside a Pharmacy

Timelezz parking

On an office door:

Helping white cane users to reach safely to their destination is a noble cause that we should always participate in.

Name of a pub:

Jo’s pub and pork bar

Shop sign:

Quality Goods, Kids clothes, Fumigation (something for everyone obviously!)

Boda riding.

Last Wednesday I wanted to got back to Muyenga to visit my friends (although Chloe has already left to go to Ibanda, but the new VSO volunteers had arrived in the morning so I wanted to meet them. For convenience I decided to go by Boda. This as I think I have already said is a motor bike taxi and cheap! There is a reason for this.

Anyway, the driver who takes me to work found one of his friends (or more likely a family member) to take me as he said he was ‘safe’. This is a contradiction as bodas have a different standard of safety known on the planet.

I was told to wait, with my helmet on the corner for a man called Farook, well I was inundated with boda offers and as I hadn’t meet Farook I said to the boda man has Donald (the NCDC driver sent you and he said yes (my first mistake! I should have said who has sent you – lesson number one!)

So I get on the boda. Well, it is 37 years since I have been on the back of a motor bike and so I explained to him that I had not been on a boda before and could he try to be safe. Again obviously yes but actually he was very careful – at least he drove on the road for most of the journey!

I clamoured on realising that the height of the bike is about the same measurement as my inside leg so I had to sort of swing my right leg over the bike. At the back there is a metal bar which you can cling onto which I did. I held on so tightly that my knuckle bones nearly broke through my skin – talk a about a white knuckle ride! Alton Towers eat your heart out! I’m a pro!

My tummy muscles were so tense that a world champion body builder would have been proud. My thighs were holding on so tight that a sumo wrestler would have been jealous. If I keep this up for a year on a regular basis my thighs will be able to crack walnuts! (useful at Christmas I guess!). My face was  set in the sort of expression that you might have when the dentist wants to remove all your teeth but you don’t want him to, but you know the inevitable is coming. My teeth were so clamped together that not even a mosquito could enter, and they get everywhere!

As we were travelling along my phone went 5 times in a very short space of time and even the boda man said your phone is busy, but I was too scared to take my hands off the bar to answer my phone. I don’t think I could have got my phone out ‘cos my fingers and hands by this time were numb with stress and intensity. I do have a monkey like grip which I developed by doing up corona bottles when young so no-one else could open it so I could drink it by myself (yes I was mean!) I also had a lot of practice getting strong by wringing the tap in the bathroom, also when young, as it used to drip and be really irritating. So wringing its neck was the only way to stop it, so my monkey like grip has been developed over a period of at least 45 years if not longer. It has now paid off at last!

When I reached Muyenga I asked the boda man for his number thinking he was Farook. However, he said his name was Bennett. Oh dear! I paid him and looked at my phone. I had one missed call from Farook his message was asking where I was, the next was Donald, the driver, worried because he thought I had gone missing. The next one was Farook asking where the missing Mazongu was and this was followed by Donald in a panic worried ‘cos I was not with Farook. (The other call was Chloe wanting a chat which was nice.) I rang both Farook and Donald and explained what had happened.

On the way home I rang Farook to take me back but he was at home with his family so I rang Bennett who said I hadn’t paid him enough and wouldn’t come out again, so I had to get another boda, which I did. Again I did my gritting teeth and monkey like act which was just as well as as we were going along the road (I use this term loosely, very loosely) when he suddenly turned off down a bumpy, fairly dark track. We went through a slum area which was obviously holding a late night market (it was about 9.00 pm), it was quite pretty and lots of people were about but an area I was not familiar with. He asked if I was ok and I thought it better not to say I did not know this way but to just act confident so I just said yes.

Eventually we came out on what I call Bathroom Road ‘cos there is a bathroom shop there (so all bathroom facilities must work at one point perhaps only when originally fitted! But when used they fall apart!) so all was well until we got the Jinga Road. This is a very busy dual carriage way and we were travelling on the wrong side of it heading towards the oncoming traffic. I decided then to practice slow blinking, (I haven’t taken any exercise since I have been here so thought I would add this to my boda regime) not really shutting my eyes but just taking my time to look out between blinks!

Anyway eventually we got to Ntinda safely and all was well. I went on a boda again today and have found it is easier, and you feel safer, if you just sit in a relaxed manner, still holding on but not like a monkey. My thighs, hands and teeth appreciated this new approach, so perhaps I have cracked boda riding!!!!! (I hope I haven’t spoken too soon!)

Sayings found on the wall in a school reception area.

An effective teacher is like a candle that consumes its self so that others may have light. (I thought this to be very true)

Learning acquired in youth arrests the evil of old age.

Whatever the struggle continue to climb: it may only be one step from the summit.

On this note I think I’ll stop as I think this last one may be my mantra. Some things are fine other things are a struggle e.g. Yesterday it took me 45 minutes to buy two saucepans so I’ll let you know how long it takes to buy a house full of furniture. Will I live to tell the tale? I’m sure I will but I think patience will be the order of the day. At least I have a lot of that! But I’ll let you know.

As always lots of love.

XXXXX

P.S. I am sharing my room with a Gecko.

Click here for Week Six

Comments on Uganda Week Five Leave a Comment

October 27, 2013

Claire @ 12:26 pm #

It is very hot here tonight about 30 degrees and very sticky so I think it might rain. I hope so because it helps clear the air.

A group of us went to Jinja today as it was Bank holiday here for Independence day saw lots of lovely things such as the source of the Nile which is not really a source as it starts from Lake Victoria, but its still nice to have gone. Saw some monkeys along the side of the road which was fun.

I will send some more notes probably tomorrow. Just some funny things and a few of my experiences. Thank you for keeping in touch. Please pass on my love to everyone and say hello from me.

I miss Monks and think about you all often. I move again on Saturday and so hope to find a church now I will have a permanent home.

Love as always and thank you for your continued support
Claire

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