Another week in Kampala

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

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday: We got up pretty late again today, and Liz Karen and Chris went to the visa office (for the 11th time)- they've had some (understantment of the year) problems with renewing their visa and as a result have been living illegally in uganda for the past 2 months! The visa people dont seem very concerned, but are happy to take their money. Fortunately I was given '90 days' when I entered the country (when my visa was meant to expire on the 20th Jan) so its valid until I leave! Very grateful.

I put my clothes in to soak, and then we left for town- this was the first time us newbies had gone to town on our own but we know where to go now, so other than a minor detour we got there fine. We spent 3 hours in the internet cafe before going to the supermarket. On the way Chris was stopped by this man, who wouldnt let go of his hand, first trying to sell him a business I think, and then proceeded to whisper in Chris' ear, "Would you like a 'Bob Marley' cigarette? I can get it for you if you want?" Chris very politely refused! The supermarket was great- a lot bigger than the other ones and we got a bit caught up in all the extra stuff they sold, and ended up buying 5 big bags (including a box of proper bounties for 9 pounds) when all we went in for was loo roll!

Phiona had already made the lunch when we had returned- rice and the dodgy meat that we suspect she brought from the roadside butchers. It was ok- I have to remember not to be fussy about what kind of meat I eat- but she put the pork skin in there too and was surprised when we didnt eat it! Eugh... We had a powercut in the evening, so practiced our song for Sunday by candlelight, and then got out the fruit salad, that was stored in a carved out watermelon (ingenious). Unfortunately when trying to pass it across the room it ended up on the floor- but you cant waste good pineapple and mango- so some of us picked at it, while Karen and Liz laughed- only they knew that there was another bowl full of fruit in the fridge! We did make a bit of a mess, but none of us got sick thankfully. We were in hysterics- we were acting like animals trying to get to the pineapple and mango (in the bowl) faster than everyone else- you couldnt stop to laugh or you would miss all the good fruit! Liz went a bit crazy and told us a story about a woman in her church that made us all laugh some more. It was a bit late to do my washing and hang it out, so I left it in til tomorrow.

Saturday: We went to a Youth Conference today- we didnt know anything about it other than we were to meet at the church at 10 and then travel to wherever it was! Normally 10 would mean 11, 11:30, so we were very surprised to see them all waiting for us when we arrived at 11! They've learnt to tell us 'mzungu time'- i.e. 2 hours after the time when they tell everyone else, to save us from waiting around all the time- which is helpful, but it would have been good to know in advance! They didnt mind waiting. We walked about half an hour to get to this other church, arriving 2 1/2 hours after it was due to start- and they were just beginning. We all sang songs to start off with, including us, the 'Smile choir' going up to sing our own song at the front- they seem to expect this of us wherever we go- and give no warning whatsoever so we tend to have one ready and waiting just in case. Then someone spoke about the new year, and us being the new generation- something about us having to make up our own mind what we want to do, and letting no-one else tell us what to think.

They served lunch to everyone else, but took us outside to sit on the grass (sometimes we're given special treatment because we are visitors)- but then we were given bananas and coke- no rice or meat for us?! We were ushered back inside for a quick 20 minute talk, which was quite amusing. She did go off on one somewhat, telling us to manage our time well (while the talk overan by an hour), not just sitting around reading books (oops) and not wasting money (felt a bit bad about the bounties). She talked about abstinance and AIDS, using a little analogy with one sealed bottle of water and an unsealed bottle. She also said women shouldnt wear trousers because it makes them more likely to be raped?! We were a bit baffled, but the whole talk was quite funny! We left before the end, and walked home with the worship team from our church who had come with us. I made pasta bake for dinner, and attempted (very badly) to mop the floor- no mops, just a wet rag. Emma came round for dinner, and we showed him a cracker- Liz had been sent some and he'd never seen one before!

Sunday: Some of the others were joining the worship team on stage in Church this morning, so they left early. We joined them later, and to be honest I wasnt really looking forward to it- I'd already had a day of church yesterday, and I didnt know if I could handle Stephen shouting at us for a couple of hours or not. However it was a lot better than before- we didnt have to stand and sing for too long, as there was a special guest from some other church and who has songs on the radio (?) who came and sang 3 of her songs- everyone was dancing- and Emma and Godfery were doing body popping on the stage- it was quite impressive! Little Naomi (Stephen and Agnes' daughter) was trying to copy them too which was really sweet. We sang our compulsary song (this time with harmonies- ooh) and then settled down for the sermon- which was only 40 minutes long ! I was amazed. And he didnt shout too much. On the other hand maybe I'm just getting used to it.

We walked back home and the others started on the lunch, spending the next 4 hours cooking up a feast of Sammy, yorkshire puddings, roast and baked potatoes, carrots, cabbage and gravy, and gooey (well, undercooked) chocolate cake with real English chocolate on top for dessert. Whoo it felt like Christmas! We were so stuffed afterwards we couldnt even move and it was great! Somehow we managed to start singing a song from the Sound of Music, and then progressed through the entire repetoire, moving onto a couple of numbers from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Oliver. Its good to know I'm surrounded by people who appreciate the good old films (oh and that we're all as big losers as each other).

Monday and Tuesday: We went to school to assign ourselves to various classes- I'm going to be primarily be teaching maths to P3, who are 8-11 year olds. I had a look at the syllabus and one of the text books and it all seems OK- we get to watch the teachers for 2 weeks before we have to start teaching (supposedly). Both days Teacher Ruth's daughter Kirabo (4) came round to visit- she's really sweet, and played with us for a couple of hours. Wellyboot man (so called because he was wearing welly boots when Chris and Karen first saw him) paid us a visit too, to recommend that we got a small dog to run around the house, and to talk to when we needed company... despite the fact that there are 8 of us living in this house, we're hardly ever alone, and theres about 2m between the 4 walls of the house and the outside wall! I've decided to make use of some of the time I have sitting around, so I'm trying to learn the guitar- unfortunately when I tried on Monday, when Chris was trying to tune it, and first the little bit on the end that you tune it with snapped off, and then the string snapped and he couldnt repair it! Fortunately Stephen has a guitar too, so I can now play D, A and E chords. Still doesnt sound very good but I'm getting there! On Tuesday Phiona taught us to make chappatis, Esther and I sang along to lots of boyband trash on my ipod, and we had sausages (that were very pink but apparently fully cooked) for dinner. Before going to bed I made the pancake mix and pineapple for tomorrow morning!

Wednesday: I made the pancakes, finally managing to make half decent ones, which we had for breakfast along with some very alcoholic (i.e. fermented) pineapple. We walked down to Nansana to go on the internet- I'm currently trying to find a decent safari to do after I finish in Uganda, going from Nairobi to either Arusha, Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar. I've found a couple of good ones that arent ridiculously expensive, but none of them operate in the rainy season! If you know of any good safari companies, I'd very much appreciate it if you could let me know- I need to leave at the beginning of April (the height of the wet season). Karen had a bit of a problem with her email and ended up losing it all- gutted! We brought more ice cream and took boda bodas back. On the journey, while the African breeze was blowing through my hair and we were bumping and jumping over the humps and potholes(oh how poetic) I was thinking about how we're becoming more part of the locals now- we dont seem to be intruding or anything, and we're not on holiday either, so maybe the locals are giving us a bit more respect. Or I could just be imagining it!

As soon as we got back, we went straight out to school to meet up with the worship team for a practice- apparently we're singing with them in church this week! We rehearsed, and tried to make a harmony, but ended up just being out of tune all the time.

Since it was Burns night tonight, we decided to celebrate in style (any excuse for a party). Emily happily planned an entire evening program, printing out words to songs and various Robert Burns' poems. We began with the Selkirk grace (the one that grandpa always says whenever we go and visit), and then had Spanish (Scottish) omlette, made by myself, bubble and squeak (well- cabbage, mash and tomato) and mango (haggis) for dessert. I made a bit of a mess cooking the omelettes but they turned out OK and didnt actually taste too bad! After we'd finished, I read Ode to a Haggis in my best Scottish accent, and Emily gave a long speech about how wonderful Robert Burns was, which was hilarious. After the toast to the lassies by Chris and the response by Esther, we downed our triple whiskeys (apple juice). A couple more poems were read, and then we did some Scottish dancing (I really couldnt remember that much but Emily knew some). We moved onto singing every Scottish song we could think of- Skye boat song, 'Och Aye could walk 500 miles', Loch Lomand, a couple more and finishing off with a hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne. We then went outside for our bonfire- setting alight 3 envelopes and singing Scout songs. Its amazing how much fun you can have when theres really nothing to do but you just pool your resources :D

Thursday: I got up early, but others took their time so we didnt have time to do bible study before we left for our day out with the worship team. We went to school for Stephen to give us a lift there and waited about half an hour before we left. We were going to Bai'hi temple- some landscaped gardens with a big temple on a hill as part of the Bai'hi faith (which sounded a bit weird from the boards they put up explaining it). I'm getting used to the sights of Africa, so I forget to put them up here. When I look again I see the overturned skips, leaving rubbish all over the road, the cyclists weaving in and out of the crammed taxi minibuses, the ditches filled with dirty water and rubbish, huge bunches of matoke being sold by the side of the road, and lots of shops selling everything from furniture to popcorn to saucepans, all being coated in a liberal amount of dust.

Anyway, we arrived at this temple, and the grounds are really nice- we sat under a tree to wait for the others to arrive, and were approached by the guard. Apparently if you're a group of more than 5 poeople, you need to go and ask someone permission before you can just sit anywhere, and there are strict rules you have to adhere by- such as no sititng near the temple, and no games which somewhat scarpered our plans to play games all day! We figured quiet games would be OK, so long as we werent running around too much, so we got into 2 teams, and started the games! We played Dr Dr first (where you have to untangle yourself into a circle), made a human pyramid (or at least attempted it), had races rolling down the hill, running and hopping relay races and, Eric's suggestion (the v.v.musical one)- composing a song. The other team, called Power made a nice little song about God's love and how we're all winners, while we made a rap- me being the lead rapper and everyone else doing the backing vocals and actions. Our chorus was 'We rule! (ooh ooh) You drool! (ooh ooh) You may be power (ooh ooh)- but you are sour (ewwww). Wasnt quite the same, but I was still very upset when, having got into character, wearing my shades and someone's cap backwards, we were still only given 5/20 for expression. Hm. We lost by 9 points- and as a result the other team won overall! Gutted.

They had a couple of people say something- I was too tired (and too upset from our defeat) to listen very hard, and then it was lunch time. We had rice and what we think was goat- but as usual there was lots of fat and I always wonder where the meat has come from. There were flies buzzing all around our plates too. I'm thinking of going vegetarian.

We went up to look around the temple, which was really simple but still beautiful. There was a huge dome- it was kind of the same shape as the golden mosque in Jerusalem (in case you know what that looks like) and it was really nice to look around. We went back down to the group, and joined Esther and Becca who were playing with Prossie's 4 month old baby, Timo, who was really cute. We did a press up competition, and I beat everyone else including stephen (albeit with appalling technique and going at half the speed). My arms hurt today though. We got the minibus home, and stayed up quite late having quite heated ethical and philosophical discussions- Becca and Emily were talking about all these philosophers having done philosophy A level- me and Esther were more of the 'how cool would it be if there was a parallel universe going on right now ? Its been a while since I've had a proper debate so it was fun!
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