Another busy day which resulted in Stu and myself, in particular, dashing around like madmen for most of the day. We had been inviting as many park staff as we knew to our party since we had arrived the previous Thursday and were anticipating around fifty people coming. We had sorted out music and cooks but would need to go and buy all of the food in Kasese. Invitations had also been accepted by Yowasi and Ramathan, so we had to organise picking them up as well. before all this we visited a girl guides group in Katwe where Karen and Amy handed over some gifts from the girl guides in Clanfield.
After picking up a shopping list from Judith, the member of park staff who had cooked for us the previous year, we drove down to Katunguru to pick up Yowasi, who had brought his two year old daughter, Linda with him. She was very pleased to see her Uncle Njojo (me – the elephant) and Uncle Mbogo (Stu – the buffalo). After pushing the Sauna Wagon to jumpstart it (again) we headed for Kasese. We made a stop at the equator again, this time so that Amy and I could film our experiment with the direction that water spins when poured through a funnel. The film will see the light of day in a future assembly and on this blog when it has been edited.
Kasese was absolutely heaving as Saturday afternoon is the busiest shopping time. Firstly, Yowasi, Linda and I went to the stationery store so that Yowasi could buy lots of book and maths equipment kindly funded by the children of Liss Junior School. Next we moved on to the Orange store so that he could buy another six months internet, again funded by the children at Liss Junior School who bought and ate all those icepops during the summer term.
With our business concluded we then set about organising the purchase of food for the evening. Judith had sent Joseline and Richard (two members of the park staff) with us to barter for the food as many stallholders who saw a muzungu (white man) coming would instantly double their prices. Richard was awesome at negotiating and we came in comfortably under budget. This year I was not witness to seeing a goat being slaughtered, but buying a chicken is not the same as at Sainsburys or ASDA. You choose the chickens you want from a cage and then come back half an hour later when they have been, killed, bled, plucked and jointed.
While Stu, Yowasi and I had been helping with the shopping the girls had been getting dresses made. When they caught up with us they all looked very pleased. We returned to the Sauna Wagon and started the drive back to Mweya. As we left Kasese I noticed a big black cloud in the distance. Twenty minutes later we were under it and in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm. The rain was so heavy (and warm) we could barely see out of the front window. Another complication swiftly arose. The electric passenger side window had developed a fault and wouldn’t close, so inevitably the person sitting in the front passenger seat got absolutely soaked. You can guess who that was!
We dropped off the food with Judith and the girls and Yowasi at Hippo House before heading out to Katunguru to pick up beer, soda and Ramathan. It’s fair to say that I have enjoyed myself with Nile Special on this trip; Steve and I have many long chats that require liquid refreshment to stop the palette running dry. The best thing of all is that it costs less than a pound for a half litre bottle and it really tastes good. However, any children reading this will know that Mr Stanley only advocates responsible drinking!!!!!
Whilst we drove back we had a really pleasant surprise. A leopard ran out 50 yards in front of us. As we slowed down it looked at us the walked down the side of the Sauna wagon before disappearing. Although it was pitch black and we only picked it up in the lights of the van it was a beautiful creature.
We arrived back at Hippo House for 8.00pm. The girls had got changed into their Ugandan dresses and looked fantastic. Hippo House had been cleaned and looked spotless. The only problem was that no guests had arrived. By 10.00pm only two people had arrived (and one of them had gone). Stu and I began to get really worried as we had all spent a lot of money on the party and if no one showed up then eleven of us would be eating a meal for fifty people. No matter how much I like goat I wasn’t sure that I could manage ten portions.
At 10.30pm we got a call to say that the food was ready to be picked up. We drove to the Education centre where the food had been cooked only to discover that there were about 70 Ugandans having a party there. As soon as we arrived it was announced that the party was now over and that they would be attending ours. Stu and I ferried them back to Hippo House (we managed to fit seventeen people into an eight seater bus on one trip).
Food was quickly served, extra chairs brought in and Steve, Stu and I made sure that everyone had something to drink. The food was delicious and the goat tasted especially good! At the conclusion of dinner I had to act as MC for the speeches (if you hadn’t already realised Ugandans love their speeches). Steve spoke for the Twinning Project in the UK and Godfrey the head of tourism for UWA spoke on behalf of the Ugandan rangers. Stu then gave a speech representing the Scots (an entitlement as he is an ethnic minority in Uganda) while Yowasi spoke on behalf of the Ugandan teachers. We also gave out some presents. There were a load of tents for the rangers, a wooden bowl with the QECP logo embedded in the wood for Godfrey and a posh pen for Jacqui, the waitress who had looked after us every night at Tembo. It was then time for dancing.
With all the tables and chairs cleared away we began by playing some more popular western music. As a Twinning Project we performed the Macarena (except for Jan who had hurt her leg and Stu, who had decided that doing the washing up was a more attractive proposition.) Next the Ugandans put on their music and all hell broke loose. Everyone was on the dance floor throwing some shapes. It soon became apparent that Yowasi could really dance (he had told me before that he had trained the children who had performed the cultural dance at Kafuro) and he had no shortage of admirers. With no way of escaping the humiliation I had to throw a few shapes myself and invented a new dance ‘Do the Njojo’ which consisted of bouncing up and down a lot and waving an imaginary trunk around. Surprisingly the Ugandans really liked it and I actually believed that they were laughing with me rather than at me.
After nearly three hours on the dancefloor (except for Stu – that washing up certainly took a long time!!!) we called a halt at 2.00am. Most of the Ugandans went on to another party while we cleared up. Then we sat about talking or rather I talked. Clearly I hadn’t realised all of the adrenaline, which had built up inside of me all day as I couldn’t shut up. Even worse Stu had reappeared just in time to film me and I think that the film will resurface when I least want it to. I would like to think that on this trip that I have been friendly and outgoing, but the others have used this as evidence for all manner of crimes. Steve has said that he is going to make me an honorary ranger just so I can go to their Christmas party and have a special video tribute to myself. This is not something I’m looking forward to!
We finally went to bed at 3.00am after what had been a brilliant day! Sunday would hopefully be quieter.