Last week of the holidays

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
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Trip End Apr 14, 2006


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Flag of Uganda  ,
Friday, February 3, 2006

Friday: We got up early this morning to see Karen and Becca off- they're going to Pallissa, a town near Mbale in the South-East of Uganda to visit the project that Becca was working on last summer for a couple of weeks. They're coming back next week. Meanwhile its just 6 of us in the house! A couple of hours later we went into town too. First stop: The Kampala market. I'm not very good in markets at the best of times, so when everyone is crammed into such a small place, and you get loads of cries 'over here over here' just walking past, I felt a bit overwhelmed. The problem being that being mzungus, we stand out, plus from past experience they know we have more money and will therefore pay more than the typical Ugandan, all of which makes us very attractive buyers! I was trying to find some shorts because I'm getting somewhat sick of my clothes now, having worn them for the past couple of months, and eventually found some. No scope for trying them on of course, but the man brought out a measuring tape and proceeded to check that they'd fit me! He started off at 13,000 Ush, but I managed to get the price down to 6000, having refused to pay 9000 and walking away. Its about one pound eighty so not too expensive..! Esther tried to find some trousers too but refused to pay more than 6000 for them, so never got any in the end. In the meantime some other people selling stuff were talking to us: They couldnt believe we were all 18- they thought emily was 12 and when I asked, they said I must be 'at least 17'. Not sure how they can tell the difference between 17 and 18 but at least they thought I looked the oldest (I'm actually the youngest by a couple of months). I also talked to a man, who having worked out that I'd come from England, couldnt understand why I couldnt buy a lovely (ugly) dress. I told him that just because I came from England didnt mean I had loads of money just to throw away, but he seemed to disagree. I guess compared to them we're all loaded!

We walked up to the internet cafe and I got a nice email from the Good Hope Organisation, but it did make me feel a bit bad. Basically having gone there (its the 2nd childrens place we visited, in the slums) I felt like I should try and give them some money towards a new building, and emailed them to that effect. I got an ecstatic email back thanking God that I'd come along- all their prayers were answered and asking how much I could give them- a good house would be 100 million shilling- about 300,000 pounds... Then I just felt bad because he seemed to get the wrong end of the stick and of course I could give him nowhere near that much, so I tried to let him down gently. However as of today I just got another reply, still extremely grateful, saying they can buy a small plot of land for the amount I can give them and how he's gathered all the orphans and widows together to tell them the good news...! Its good to see how far money can go over here and I'm sure they'll use it well. Its a bit intimidating though! Incidentally, if anyone feels like they want to give some money to a good cause, this could be it. I'm always a little bit wary of giving money to big companies, because although I trust them, I also know that they must have large overheads and I'm never sure how much of my money actually reaches the people who need it most. Having met the guy who runs this centre, I know he'll use every penny he's given to help his cause- he seems to have a real heart for those living in the area, so I personally feel happier giving money to him. They have a website:
and I'm transferring money to them via Western Union, so it should be nice and secure. I'm sure they'd be equally grateful if you could give them even a small amount of money.

Anyway after the internet, we went up to a restaurant that me and Esther had spotted on the way to the bookshop (got another book- really big for 5000Ush bargain). It was really nice- me and Esther shared a big veggie pizza and it was sooo good. Mmm. Emily and Chris both had chicken I think- it certainly made a nice change from rice and matokee! Next we went off in search of the Adrift offices, who we went white water rafting with because they had taken photos of the day that we could buy. We walked around for half an hour, the only instructions we were given being 'behind the sheraton', and asked a guard where they were. He seemed to know and directed us back the way we came, but I wasnt convinced so I phoned them up. Apparently they'd moved to the other side of town, nowhere near the sheraton- handy! So we walked all the way back into town. On the way a boy about 10 years old holding an election candidate poster (they're everywhere) came up to us, apparently to convince us to vote for his guy. We tried to explain that we werent allowed to vote, but he carried on walking next to us. After a while he asked for some money, because he hadnt had any lunch and was hungry- when we said no, he proceeded to say not only had he no money or lunch, but 'no shoes, no water, no father...' We felt really bad but there was nothing we could do- I literally had no money left. He was more proactive than the other kids on the street, so he probably got a bit more money- all around the bank are these little children dressed in rags, who, babies in tow, come up holding out their hands saying 'sir, sir, sir' pleading with you to spare some change. Its even harder because everyone assumes we should have money to give them, based on the colour of our skin, and yet we still walk by like everyone else. I'm going to try and get a bag of sweets to give out to them though instead of money.

We walked back to the taxi park via the supermarket and got a taxi home- we had to wait a while while he jump started the engine and pushed the minibus along, but we got there in the end. I happened to sit next to a guy who appeared to know Stephen, and asked for my phone number. You can never be too sure though, so I was glad that I hadnt memorised it and so couldnt give it to him. Earlier in the day Esther and Emily got into a conversation with a man in the taxi park, and he asked them to write down the name of the school we were working at- we just wrote Nansana Primary School, but he wasnt to know. This guy was a Christian though- after much confusion as to why he was asking if we were servants I gathered that he actually was asking if we were saved . When we got home Phiona had already cooked for us, and although we were still full from our late lunch we managed to eat a bit. We had another powercut and noted how low the water was running, before going to bed.

Saturday: Woke up this morning with no gas, water or electricity! We'd actually managed to empty our entire supply of water in our huge tank, and with no forecast of rain for the next week we were getting a bit worried! Anyway I felt like doing something constructive today, so I read my book and wrote my diary. We met the worship team at 2pm for a practice- they seem to think after last week we want to sing every Sunday now, but its not too bad. They're all our age and we get on quite well. Afterwards we went to Beatrice's house, who we'd met at the day out last Thursday, with the worship team. She didnt turn up til about 7pm, but someone cooked us a nice meal, and we had more discussions (mainly on Creationalism/Evolutionism and how literal the bible is) which shocked some people :) We sang some more songs- sister act mainly while Emily and Emma swapped stories about being in Scouts. We walked home in the dark (which is surprisingly tricky what with all the potholes, manure and the like, especially when its a new moon), to find there was still a powercut- and to top it off, the batteries in the torch were dead.

Sunday: I got up early this morning to do my washing before we went to church. We left a bit late- by the time we'd got there they'd almost finished singing- oops! Two young kids sang alone- one of them rapping, both with songs they made up I think, which was good. We did our songs. Then Liz, Emily and I took the children out for Sunday school again- the last one we'd be doing before the hostel kids come back. At the moment we only have about 60 or 70 but when school starts again we get over 200, so looking forward to that! Especially if our translator doesnt turn up again like today. Why us?! I think they got the gist of Noah's Ark, and we sang "Mr Noah built an ark" to the tune of Old Macdonald, which I think they enjoyed. We exhasted our repetoire of songs again, and went back into church- just as Chris and Esther were finishing off a dedication- with one baby each in their arms! They didnt know anything about this before today- but they're special guests so get to hold the babies.

After the service we started to walk home but it was threatening rain- and all my cleanly washed washing was hanging out on the line! I took the keys and legged it home- just about remembered my way, and reached the gate just as it was starting to chuck it. Unfortunately I didnt know which key opened the padlock- and its at a really tricky angle, so I just stood there while it got wetter and wetter. In the end I asked 2 guys hanging around nearby to give me a hand- one jumped the wall and tried from the inside but I still didnt know which key it was, so I followed suit, and in my long skirt, jumped over the 2.5m wall, just as Chris was coming round the corner. He found it very amusing, but I didnt care- I had to get this washing in! I got it all before it got too wet, and managed to provide entertainment to the masses at the same time.

Not only was the electricity back on, but Jackson had got a massive water pump and filled our enormous tank and the back of the house- and later we got gas too! It was great. We had quite an early lunch at 3:15, and went back to church at 5:30 for the evening film. We wouldn't have gone so early, but they were adamant that it was starting at 4- when we got there there was still over an hour of singing before the film started so I've no idea what time they started. This film was rubbish . It was Nigerian and the whole way through there was cheesy music playing that sounded like it had been recorded on a keyboard, with a 10 year old doing the filming. The special effects were somewhat 'low budget' simply stop the camera, remove the person, start the camera again- and they've disappeared! Let me give you a little synopsis: On their wedding night, a groom gives the bride's best friend a lift home. He conveniently starts choking so this 'best friend' gives him an orange juice- laced with a drug that possesses him with a demon forcing him to fall in love with her. He leaves his wife, and spends lots of money on the best friend. This best friend then takes the bride to a witch doctor to help her get over her husband- and possesses her with another demon that makes her go crazy. She wanders the streets, laughing a lot and is eventually picked up by a freak show. Her mum eventually finds her, and she's prayed for by a priest, at which point the demon leaves. Similar things happen to the husband, the witch doctor turns into a pig and is stuck by lightning, and the wife dreams about an angel (a kid dressed in a sheet) telling her to forgive her friend (who incidentally has inherited the demons). It was truly a masterpiece. I cant even tell you how it finished because we got so bored we left before the end! Probably wasnt suitable for the 30 or so kids who were watching it though. By the time we got home we were a bit peckish (having had such an early lunch) so we made omelettes, and I had a hot shower- fully appreciating having water and electricity!

Monday: When there's not much to do, cooking seems like a good way to pass the time, so today we made Eggy bread for breakfast, chappattis for lunch, and I attempted pineapple crumble for dinner. I put in rather a lot of sugar, but I was working without a recipie! Early in the morning I walked down to Nansana to try and use the internet, but the power was off, so I thought I'd give it half an hour and if it wasnt on by then I'd walk back home. I sat outside on the floor, but when the restaurant owner from next door came out, he insisted I came in and sat inside. Strangely though, he directed me towards a spare chair at a table with 3 other people already sat at it- I tried to sit elsewhere but he kept pointing to the chair. So I sat in on what seemed to be a business meeting, when there were 10 other free tables in the restaurant. Very strange, and I tried to casually read my text messages while I waited. 30 minutes later, there was still no power, so I brought some bread and juice and got a boda-boda back. We were so bored that I made different shaped chapattis for everyone- Esther had a heart, Chris had a smily face, I had a star and Emily had a cross. Hadijah, a girl from school came round to play cards with us (although she changed the rules to make sure she won) for an hour or so, and we read our books for most of the afternoon. I, however, managed to come up with 22 recipies that we could use over the next 2 months and 10 desserts. Given that we had no cook book, and I was working with rice, pasta, potatoes, eggs, a bit of meat, cheese and veggies, I thought I did quite well. I put the crumble on so it would be ready by the time we finished eating, and then 10 minutes later the electricity cut out. Typical. Despite desperate prayers and promising we would do our bible study if God put the electricity back on for just 30 minutes, we electricity remained resolutely off. Very disappointing.

Tuesday: I spent about 5 minutes trying to think of anything I could do today, but I didnt need to worry because I got 2 parcels and a letter delivered! I loved reading the letters, and replying took up quite a lot of my day. The magazines, puzzle books and chocolate didnt go amis either- thanks mum! Esther and I were going to jog to the school, feeling in need of some exercise after our oil-filled day yesterday, but we were feeling too lazy so we walked. After a scary conversation with Stephen persuading him to drive us places later in the week, we met up with Liz and Phiona who were coming home for lunch. More chappatis. I tidied up and then cooked rice and finally the crumble. It turned out not so much like crumble but more pineapple-stewed-in-syrup type thing. Very sweet and not so much crumble on top (I think there was too much juice in it). Nice though! We all felt a bit sick afterwards, and had (yet another) discussion about the title 'born-again' Christians. I've learnt to stay out of it.

Wednesday: We woke up to the sound of thunder and lightning at 9am this morning- not sure I've ever been in a morning thunderstorm before. We waited for it to stop and then got a taxi half way into town and walked the rest of the way to the Protestant Cathedral. It was really big and peaceful inside- I really liked it- and they had lots of great stained glass windows. In case you havent heard anything about it, mum has been talking to someone at church (I think) who is related (?) to Alexander Mackay- one of the first missionaries to Uganda. My middle name in Mackay (as is my mum and grandmas) and my Grandpa's mum (I think....) was a Mackay. Funnily enough Emily's Great Aunt was a Mackay too- so we (extremely distantly) related! Anyway at the back of this church there was a leaflet which talked about Alexander Mackay and how he came to Uganda in 1890s- about the 3rd missionary here. They also had a candlestick made by him. Not sure why, but it was a bit of a surprise to read about him there.

We walked down to the main road again, and 2 taxis later arrived at the Catholic Cathedral- we were having a cultural day today. There were great views of Kampala, with the Virgin Mary looking out over the city. The Cathedral was a similar size, but for some reason I preferred the other one. Dont know why! I got another 2 taxis back- one on my own- everyone else went to the market, while I went straight back to Nansana to try and use the internet- but the power was still off. Nevermind! I made a bit of a fool of myself trying to get the taxi to stop- I couldnt remember what the Lugandan word was, so I just tried to copy what everyone else said, said completely the wrong thing, and got more than a couple odd looks! They understood what I meant though. When I got home, Karen and Becca had returned from Pallisa so we swapped stories from the last week. We had another powercut this evening, and had a bit of a fight with the soft footballs Karen had been sent from home- some people (Chris) throw them really hard! I sat and read my book by candlelight (in the midst of another Dan Brown book) and then went to bed quite late.

Thursday: (I'm really sorry this is going on so long) We got up early because today we were going to Jinja, the source of the Nile. We did go there for White water rafting a couple of weeks ago, but we didnt really see much, so we thought we'd try and go back. Stephen didnt seem to mind too much, and brough his 2 kids Miriam and Gadwin along for the ride. Its a long drive down to Jinja- almost 2 hours depending on the traffic, but we got there eventually, first stop the 'source of the nile'. A couple of plaques market the spot, although the actual official spot was apparently on the other bank, or on an island or something- some place you needed to hire a boat to get there to anyway. We didnt really care that much- it wasnt really a definite place as Lake Victoria is as wide as the Nile at that point anyway, so you cant really tell where one begins and the other one ends. Still a point of interest though- apparently the water flowing past will come out in the Mediterranean 3 months later. If it wasnt for the rapids, I'd get a little boat and float my way down (oh, and also the fact that it goes through Sudan).

We drove to the Bujgali falls, over which we rafted a few weeks ago. It was really nice here- a pleasant breeze, the sounds of the falls crashing down, and nice landscaped gardens (it was the back of a basic hotel). We agreed that we wouldnt mind spending a couple of nights here if we had to! We watched (and paid) a crazy man to swim down the grade 4 rapids holding just an empty jerry can, but it was a bit disappointing- he only went down the side, not the main waterfall bit. Chicken. We sat in the shade for a couple of hours just chilling while Stephen read the paper, and I played with Miriam and Gadwin. They're very easily entertained!

We drove onto the adrift place where we started out white water rafting for lunch, which was a bit of a strange choice but it was really nice there. They have huge comfy chairs and although we had to wait over an hour for our food, I had my book so I didnt mind! I had a great BLT with chicken and egg toasted sandwich- which made me think of the club sandwiches me and Hayley used to get after training at the Holiday Inn. There were great views over the Nile too. Very relaxing! We took the 'scenic route' home as Emily wanted to go via the Shrine to the Uganda Martyrs because apparently her church sent money out here 40 years ago for a small building to be put up... Obviously we had no idea which building it was, so she ended up taking a photo of a random house, in hope that no-one would know the difference! It was a bit of a detour, and the traffic was really bad getting back home, so we didnt arrive for about 3 hours after we left Jinja. We did stop off at a market on the way home, where lots of people jostle towards your window, trying to sell you everything from avocados to chicken on a stick. I honestly told them I didnt even had 100Ush left- I'd emptied my purse earlier and was in debt to everyone else! I did have a bit a conversation with a man selling drinks though- he seemed quite interested that we were all teachers, but wasnt quite sure why I was the only one teaching maths. Before long we drove on and left the madness behind. There was a nice sunset though, over the traffic and smog.

Phiona got home 10 minutes after we did- but Liz wasnt with her... Liz had gone out at 7:30am, telling no-one where she was, and no-one had seen her since! People started to get a bit worried, but I figured if she wasnt back by 9, 9:30, then maybe we had resaon to get nervous. Nonetheless, she returned 10 minutes later, but somewhat dodged the question of where she was all day. Who knows... its a mystery! I wasnt hungry, but we still had spaghetti and dundee cake (brought over by Chris' vicar) for dinner.
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