Uganda Day 6 really starts on Uganda Day 5. We had all been up late talking and laughing, but the girls had gone to bed. When Stu and I eventually turned in we discovered that are room had been invaded by flies and mosquitos. There seemed to be millions of them. Now, having been here for a week I have become used to the little blighters and quickly realised that there is very little that you can do to avoid them. However, if you put on your insect repellent in the morning they tend to leave you alone. But, this situation called for something a bit more drastic! Armed with insect killer spray and heavy DEET repellent we unleashed hell. Within five minutes the floor had turned black as millions of insects met their maker. The only problem was that we were now lying in our beds breathing in the fumes. The effect of this was that we laughed hysterically for a couple of hours while we reviewed the week. The butt of most of our jokes was Steve Peach, who I know will be reading this. Stu has been really anxious to experience lots of things that Steve hasn’t so the stock phrase has become, “I just have some facts to tell Steve about.”
I allowed myself the luxury of a lie in until about seven am before getting up and having my usual breakfast of a cereal bar (my last one) while getting ‘Roned up’ (taking my anti – malaria tablet). Stu, Tara and myself then went off to pick up the Ugandan teachers for our day together. When Tara and Stu picked up Ramathan from Katunguru, they went to meet his grandmother while I went to pick up Yowasi with Tadeo, the ranger who has been assigned to look after us. Yowasi’s wife, Ruth, had told him to give us a chicken, so the bird that I had seen running round the garden the previous day was now trussed up in the back. This is one of the main differences between Uganda and the UK. In the UK if you want chicken then you buy it at a supermarket. In Uganda you take it out of your garden, kill it, cook it and eat it.
After having picked up all the Ugandan teachers we loaded into the Sunshine Wagon (our name for our van)and headed up to Kasese. There was a triple purpose to the visit: 1) The opportunity for the Ugandan teachers to buy stationary with the money the children from the three English schools had raised. 2)An opportunity for me to buy mobile internet modems (dongles) for the Ugandan teachers, again with funds raised by the children. 3)Pick up supplies for a party we were going to throw that night for all the rangers in the national park.
Taking Yowasi, Ramathan and Vincent to the stationers was like taking children to a toy shop at Christmas. It took a long time to make choices, but all left the store with a range of books and other stationary. My trip to the Orange shop in Kasese was less successful. Robinson, the store manager informed me that there were no dongles in the shop, but he would send for some to be sent down from Fort Portal, some 3 hours away. Unfortunately we had to be back at Hippo House, but I made Robinson promise to put two aside for me to pick up on Monday.
The third dongle we needed to buy was at the MTN kiosk, as down in Bukorwe there are two MTN masts just by the school. I went into the kiosk and had to barter on Rebecca’s behalf to get the cheapest possible deal. I was not bargaining from a position of strength as we absolutely had to buy the dongle, but I had a very amusing twenty minute ‘discussion’ with the lady inside before being forced to concede defeat, much to her amusement. This lady shall feature again in my story.
Stu, meanwhile, had been doing the shopping and we headed back at a rate of knots in order to back at Hippo House by 4.00pm. However, we were nearly an hour late even though Charles drove the sunshine wagon like a maniac. Fortunately, everything in Uganda runs late and we have certainly become Ugandan in the last week or so. We had hired one of the park staff, Judith, to cook for us that evening and she was going to cook goat and chicken. Unfortunately, Stu had forgotten to pick up the goat. It would be easy to blame him for this, but that would be a gross miscarriage of justice. Personally, I blame the girls for expecting a man to do the shopping without making a mistake. A party in Uganda without loads of food is a disaster so I was dispatched forthwith to buy 10kg of goat and some cooking oil. I took Yowasi with me and Tadeo drove us down to Katwe.
This was the first time that I had visited Katwe and it resembled something out of the wild west with the dustiest street I had ever visited and a few run down shops. The Ugandan version of a cinema was there, a shed with a curtain pulled over it with a speaker outside pumping out distorted sound. The films being screened were not ones to linger long in the memory, a couple of Kung Fu standards and one of the old Planet of the Apes series from the late 1960s. This was next to the butchers, a wooden kiosk with hygiene standards that would not match with British standards. A goat had been hung from a tree behind the kiosk and slaughtered by the time I arrived, but I was able to see the butcher skin it with a machete and no lack of skill. In Uganda nothing goes to waste. The skin is used to make wallets and the head is boiled for its meat and to make a broth.
While waiting for the meat to be cut, I engaged with a group of Ugandans playing draughts. They play slightly different rules to the UK and I remarked upon this. One of the Ugandans suggested that I must be playing chess instead, but when I informed him that it was indeed draughts, his mates collapsed laughing and joked that he’d been shown up by a muzungo (white man)and that he lacked education. Ten kilos of goat meat costs just over £20 and with this in the Tadeo’s 4×4 we returned to Mweya. Judith was using a combination of open fires and wood fired ovens to cook all the food and this was ready at just before 10.00pm. We were brought a mountain of salad, roast and mashed potatoes (the Ugandans have a thing about Irish spuds), chicken and goat. It was the first time that I had tasted goat and it was absolutely fantastic, halfway between lamb and beef. It was a great meal! Rebecca and I had a fun hour trying to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, and when the Ugandans put on some music and Tadeo started showing some of his dance moves the night was complete.
We eventually hit the sack at about 1.00am after a very memorable day. (photos to follow)
p.s. Yowasi has started blogging. Catch his blog on the new shared site