Church by canoe - and thousands of plaits

Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Flag of Uganda  ,
Sunday, December 4, 2005

From Queen Elizabeth National Park we arrived in Kabale, in Southern Uganda. We found the quaintest hostel yet, Edirisa, which we were to use as a base for the next week. Edirisa was founded by a Slovenian documentarist Miha, and is a guesthouse, fair trade store (handicrafts made by local women), community meeting point and restaurant. Prices were very reasonable, the atmosphere was great and staff were wonderful. We immediately felt at home! Click here to learn more about Edirisa.

From Kabale, we wanted to go to Lake Bunyonyi which other travellers had raved about. With only daypacks, we set off on foot for the 8km trek to the lake. It was a lovely walk through villages and over a steep mountain (which the locals managed to RUN up!!). Kids yelled out to us and walked some of the way with us. We were also joined by Martin, a boy who had shown us to Edirisa the day before. It was a truly beautiful walk! The walk ended at the local market on the lake edge.

We found a canoe and driver to take us over to a Community Development programme we had heard about on one of the islands in the lake, Buuona Amagara. 50 minutes later, we arrived in paradise!

The island was spectacular, as were the facilities. We checked into a dorm, checked out books from their library (an education facility for island residents) and set about reading and reading the next two days away, in between movies about Idi Amin!

On Sunday, we decided to go to church! An African church service is something I have wanted to see for a while. We arranged to borrow the island's canoe, and set off after we heard the drums on the hill opposite calling the surrounding villagers to church. The canoes are much harder to steer than first appear. We went round and round and round in circles before Kirsty eventually took over the helm and steered us towards the Church's jetty. We strolled up the hill, asking for directions along the way, and eventually found our way to a small mud building without decoration or window panes. A small girls choir were dressed in their finest and seated inside singing and drumming along.

We seated ourselves and waited an hour for the congregation to full up. At about 12.30, more than an hour behind schedule (African time!) eventually the service started. It was a Church of Uganda service, all in Lugandian and a complete mystery to us. The priest carried out 5 baptisms at the back of the church, then gave certificates to 3 'mothers union' (we have no idea what it was either!!) women at the front, before asking us to come to the front and introduce ourselves. The hymms were beautiful and there were children everywhere - about 60% of the congregation were under the age of 8!! After about an hour, before the end of the service, we made our escape and paddled back to our island. Another wonderful experience!

Back in Kabale, I decided I wanted my hair plaitted Ugandan style. We went to a hair salon the next morning and were pulled and stretched all day...and all night. 20 hours and a bruised head later at 5.30am, I was finished! An experience never to be repeated!
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