Uganda Week Six
Claire’s Uganda Trip Week Six
13th October to 24th October, 2013
Can goats or sheep climb stairs?
This is not a joke but a genuine question. Every day when I arrive home there are more and more dropping of an unidentified animal on the landing outside the front door. I could ignore the fact that the floor is a sort of pale redish colour due to the dirt and dust which is brought in on shoes etc. It was most mysterious because on the landing there are two front doors one is mine and one is for next door and the droppings were only outside mine. That is all very well but why and who or what is leaving them there? It was very kind but unnecessary! Last night I couldn’t stand it anymore and swept them up and washed the floor with hot water and Jiff. I thought the cleaner Haddijah, (pronounced Had dee ja) might have done something but I was not sure if it was her remit so I also left it because I thought if it was her job I did not want to offend her by doing it for her, but I couldn’t stand wading through it and getting it between my toes on occasions, um nice! – a fine line to tread I think!
Anyway, who was the culprit? Who needed house training (am I beginning to sound like Anne Robinson – who was the weakest link?). I thought about it and I knew I passed sheep and goats on the way out but this was up two floors and how would they get into the compound anyway? Also the evidence was small pellets and then I realised that it must be the rabbits who run loose in the compound along with a small kitten, who is epileptic and needs regular medicine such a shame as it is a lovely little thing but really still for a kitten which usually exhibit crazy behaviour; Ah, they are the ones who need house training. How do they have time to climb the stairs when they spend most of their time mating?! Anyway the mystery has been solved. It was not so crazy to think it was a got because I saw one half way up a pile of bricks the other day.
They make brick type shapes and then pile them into what looks like a small church which is pointed at the top. They are taller than me and I doubt if I could reach the top if I stretched out my arm and stood on tip toe! (More about standing on tiptoe later.) While this structure is being built two arch shaped holes are left and a fire is built in each one and then these are partially blocked off go air can get in so the fire burns which it does for about a week. This dries out the bricks and then the fire is put out and they then cool. These are called ‘baked’ bricks which are dearer to buy than ‘unbaked’ bricks obviously. Anyway a goat was half way up one of these.
Now I said I would tell you more about standing on tiptoe. You might need to make a coffee now because this was totally exhausting and I needed one afterwards apart from I can’t drink coffee anymore since I had Labyrinthitus as it makes me feel sick, so I had tea. I digress sorry! So far I have bought three mosquito nets, was given one by VSO and brought one with me. I am now a mosquito net expert. If you buy a 6×5 bed (called a Queen bed) you get different opinions as to the size you need. Now a 6×5 mosquito net does not fit a 6×5 bed it does go round the bed but there is no slack so that is no good as you have to get it just so. When I bought this one Laura was in and if she stood on my bed and jumped she could reach the hook in the ceiling to hang it for me. She then had to ‘unjump’ to help me take it down. That was mosquito net number one. I then bought another one which was 6×6 by a different company also called a queen so I thought this would fit. Laura helped hang this one as well but it was just the same as the 6×5 net. It didn’t fit and there was slack. (Mosquito net number 2) Stupid mosquito net company! So I took it back and bought a king mosquito net from the same company as the first net. This did not have a size on it but I reckon it must have been about 6×7, so as it was a king size fitting a queen bed I thought it would do. I was right it did fit. Hooray… but to get out there was so many yards (or for the modern among us) metres to scramble through in order to get out it was like fighting with an octopus who had you in its clutches and really was not keen on letting you go. (I have lots of experience of this you know!) So again I asked Laura to take it down, as she had put it up…again!!! Took it back and had a great long conversation with the man in the shop and it was a shop, a department type store. The only ones I had not tried were now coloured ones and I didn’t want a yellow, ink or blue one let alone stripes. Yuk! He was very help as he had been on my last visits. He then said would I like to look at the samples hanging up. Well yes! Were these a new feature? Could I not have looked at these before? Anyway, there was this beautiful one. It had a large hoop, nearly as wide as the bed, and it was white and see through but lacy in places. It has lace that goes up and down in sort of curves round the hoop and it really is beautiful It was double the price but I didn’t care, I was going to have that one. It also has the most amazing feature a door! It sort of laps over itself so you don’t have to fight the ‘octopus’ or be incarcerated because there is no slack.
Now for the tiptoe bit! I got it home on the back of a boda all wrapped up in a lovely yellow zipped case made of J cloth type material. I put it on my bed but Laura is not in. So I have seen the technique she uses so thought I would copy not having any better ideas of my own. I hold the hook in my right hand, make sure I am not standing on the net and ….. jump! A similar technique to getting a netball ball through a hoop. No missed. This carried on happening and I was getting tired and couldn’t wait for Laura in case she was staying with a friend so it had to done. I looked around and thought about standing on a chair or a one of the small tables on the bed but thought against it. I need height. Eventually II hit on the idea of using the cushions from the chairs in living room. Success I thought as I piled them up on the bed I won’t have to jump now but…. I still couldn’t reach. I needed something longer like a pole (although any nationality would have done!) I looked around and hit on the idea of a wooden spoon. So there I was standing on my bed on a pile of cushions with the hook from the mosquito net round the handle of the wooden spoon while I holding the bowl bit. Alas it did not work as the hook kept slipping down the handle (I can hear you all say of course it won’t work!) so I thought of sellotaping the hook to the handle so it didn’t slip but then I’d have a wooden spoon hanging on the hook with my net which would be inconvenient when needing to cook and it won’t look nice. My next move was slide my hand further up the handle of the spoon so the hook had less distance to slip ‘cos my fingers were in the way. Stretched to my fullest extent I reached and reached and …..hooray success! The hoop was over the hook and I still had the spoon!
I then made a cup of tea!!! I was worn out but I have the prettiest net ever and it fits and I have door and all is well. I love it, it was well worth the trouble. (Have you finished your coffee yet? I told you you would need one!)
I don’t get much exercise here other than fixing mosquito nets but my other adventure this week was putting together the water filter,. This did not involve jumping or wooden spoons you will be glad to hear. The water filter is two fairly big steel like drums, the top one fitting into the top of the bottom one making a sort of tower. The instructions said to boil the ‘candles’ (long chalky filters) for 15 minutes but we didn’t have pan big enough so I scrubbed them with a nail brush to get the chalky stuff off and thought that would do. You fix the four candles in the top drum by screwing them through the holes sealing them with the rubber washers, metal washers and a sort of metal nut and the tap in the same way through the hole on the bottom drum. You have to boil the water and wait for it to cool a bit and tip it into the top drum. When this thing is standing on the kitchen top it is taller than me so I was pouring just off the boil water above my head into this container. Health and Safety eat your heart out! This process was repeated about four times. Tomorrow there would be filtered water! Yes there indeed was but it tasted like poison.
I undid it all and decided that perhaps these ‘candles did need to be boiled so I drained out all the water and took the top bit off the bottom bit and put it in the bath and boiled enough kettles of water to cover the said ‘candles’. I then left it overnight. In the morning I emptied the contained put it back on top the half in the kitchen and boiled enough kettles of water to have enough to filter. After work I had a drink and it was ok a bit weird but ok and thought I’d just get used it ‘cos boiled water is gross anyway. At least it was the right colour for water, it was not pale brown with bits floating in it! I added orange squash and it was fine. Another problem solved I thought until the next morning when there was water all over the kitchen the stupid thing had leaked everywhere. Having waded and sum my way through it (metaphorically speaking of course) I mopped it up with a tea towel and went to work which is where I decided to admit defeat and after work undid the whole thing, dried it out and now it is sitting on my bedroom floor waiting to be put back in its box like Andy Pandy after he was allowed out to play. The only difference being the water filter will not be allowed out again next week boys and girls!!!!
So now I am going to go and buy a large bottle of water like the ones that go on water dispensers and buy a plunger to get the water out otherwise I will have to develop muscles like Popeye when I need to lift it up for a drink. Jumping, lifting, wading and swimming through and in filtered water are now off the agenda and my exercise list!
I think I mentioned that I had been quite badly bitten by some insect or other and that my legs and feet had had swollen to a gargantuan size so I was finding my shoes quite tight. I was hobbling down to get a boda when I popped into a shop called ‘Alliz Gift Centre’. It is only small so you can see everything without moving and I saw some shoes. There were all sorts of styles, colours and sizes. I asked to try some on and nearly bought some bright yellow Birkenstocks. I already have purple ones which I love but changed my mind in favour of wanting to have filled in toes for wet weather and droppings on the landing! I found some red one which have filled in toes and open backs like leather clogs with a white running stitch round the front (don’t laugh they’re good and comfy) and what is best about them is they do up with Velcro! (I know only six year olds have Velcro shoes but I fell over the other day on a load of gravel so perhaps this is my second childhood!) So now can have fat or normal feet and have shoes that fit. However, what is even stranger was that I bought them out of a fridge! It wasn’t on at the time but still a fridge – a good a place as any to keep shoes I suppose.
On my birthday Renske and I went to Gaba Beach for the day. There is no beach and so we took it that beach meant by the water. When you get out of the Matatu you walk done a road which is lined with market stalls with everything being sold from fruit and vegetables to linen to hardware and gutted fish and ungutted fish. It was quite busy and we were having to avoid the bodas, cars and loads of people when the road started to widen out and in the middle of the road was a big rubbish heap. It stank of rotting fish, vegetables, human waste etc etc. It was so horrid but before we went unconscious we saw a big black and white cow standing on the top of it eating its way through it. It would have to be there ages but obviously an example of recycling at its best!
We then got to the harbour and got a boat to take us an island which wasn’t an island but a peninsula, but what difference does it make. We were told we couldn’t go to one island, the boat man pointing to it, ‘cos either we needed a gun or we didn’t have a gun so had to go to the ‘non’ island instead (although he didn’t say it was a ‘non’ island just an island. Just getting into the boat, whose sides came up to nearly my armpits, was tricky so had to get into the boat next door and then climb across. When we arrived at the island we had to leap out as there was no other boat. We went for a lovely walk and found some Weaver bird nests, lovely flowers and really friendly people who thought we were silly not having hats on as it was very hot. After a couple of walk we arrived back at the baot which took us back to Gaba Beach.
It was so obviously clear there was no room to moor our boat and most people would just have moored it somewhere else but no! the driver of the boat went into reverse and just rammed the other boats until the one we were on fitted. This resulted in a load of shouting from the other boat owners and people of the shore and boats groaning and making splintering sounds. After a couple of reversings he was satisfied that he had moored securely and we then climbed into the boat next door and jumped down trying to avoid a puddle sludge. Don’t even ask!
This brings me onto the techniques used to move things that are in the way. If you are trying to move a goat, sheep or smaller sister you find the biggest stone you can and throw it at the offending article. This usually moves it, but not always, sometimes it results in a stone fight as smaller sisters usually have more pluck and start throwing stones back. If you are in a vehicle you hoot at it until it moves or goes deaf! and if you are have a boat you just ram into it!
Anyway life here continues to be just as exciting and about as varied as you can get, but its no wonder I have to go to bed at ten. Life is tiring, but at least I can continue to be a princess/miner at night under my beautiful net.
I hope everyone is well thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.
As always much love and best wishes.