A week in the life of the mzungus

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

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Flag of Uganda  ,
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Just so you know, this is a partial entry since I am currently skiving off school to come down during the week, and I'll update it again on Saturday 18th.

OK, what have we done over the last week? On Saturday we went into town (for a change). There wasnt any food left for breakfast, but we made do. Most of the others were doing something else/going in earlier, so by the time we set off it was just Esther, Becca and me. We had to go via school to drop off the keys for when the others got back, so thought we'd take a shortcut direct from school to Nansana (where we'd get the taxi to Kampala). We'd never done it before, but walked in the general direction- we knew we had to go down, then up over a hill. So off we went. It was quite a nice walk, certainly more interesting having a change of scenery, but the path somewhat disappeared when we got to the bottom of the hill, by the well. There were, of course, lots of people milling about, so we asked them where to go. Perhaps we should have taken a hint when one man said 'Well... there is a shortcut, but' (looking us up and down) 'I'm not sure you'll manage it'. We thought we'd give it a go, and fortunately there was a man already going to Nansana, so we just followed him. unfortunately the 'shortcut' was not shorter, and it cut through the middle of a swamp! So we found ourselves squelching through this mud, leaping over streams and walking over hot ash from where they'd burnt down the plants, all at 11am on a Saturday morning! We then had to climb the hill on the other side, and ended up getting to Nansana very hot, thirsty and a lot later than we had hoped!

Anyway after the excitement of getting to town, we didnt feel like doing that much, so spent an hour and a half in the market getting some bargains- I got a demin skirt, stripy T-shirt (from Topshop), linen trousers (black of course) and some more shorts for 10 quid. I cleared out all my money too! We went to the garage to get some water- I had to borrow some money- and then walked up to the internet cafe. When I got there, for some reason I checked my pockets- and found my purse was gone. Only a matter of time I suppose, but it had my debit card, driving licensce and student card in it. No money thankfully but still annoying all the same! I transferred all the money out of my account just in case (online) but there wasnt much point tracing my steps as its so busy, and I'd be walking past the garage later. So now I have no money.

We did our supermarket shopping (never realised how heavy the bags were when you have to walk all the way back to the taxi park). I did check in the garage, but they had no idea what i was talking about, so I cancelled my card when I got home. Typical!

I had a pleasant start to Sunday- I decided to turn my matress over because its foam and its getting flat in the middle- and low and behold, there was a lovely big cockroach just hanging out on the wooden bits of my bed- under the matress! Eugh eugh eugh. I sprayed it with doooom and it scuttled in (and out thank God) of my walking boots, over the floor, and proceeded to lie on its back for the next 15 minutes wriggling its legs and slowly dying. *shudder* Dont like cockroaches. But our bedrooms not dirty, honest! I figured I should sweep under my bed after that, so I cleaned up a bit before going to church. The service dragged a bit today, but there sermon was quite good I guess.

We walked home, and I was faced with the prospect of cooking. My turn today. I didnt have any bright ideas (or didnt have the right ingredients) so I just put on a load of rice, and made jam sponge, despite not having any electricity for the oven just yet. The others brought back some tomatoes from Nansana, so I made a boring veggie sauce, and everyone apart from me and Karen went to watch the film 'Solomon' at church. I scrubbed the floor (now that was filthy) and put the sponge in when the electricity came back on. We waited til 10, but they still hadnt returned, so we thought we'd start. It was pretty good! I made custard too (which I had to literally boil for over 30 mins just to get it to thicken) so it was nice. They got back 5 mins later, and then we suddenly heard Liz shout 'snake!!' We all rushed outside, and sure enough, there was quite a long snake slithering along the side of the house. Phionah started shouting and screaming (apparently they're deadly) whereas the rest of us just ran back inside for our cameras. I hate to think what she'd be like if it was in the house! Anyway Phionah and Emily got what can only be described as a huge log (12 foot long) and proceeded to thump it until they were convinced it was dead. The fact that they could barely lift the log made the situation even more amusing. And sure enough, the snake was dead and splattered. It seemed a bit excessive to me, but I suppose the children may have come round and got bitten by it, and I certainly wouldn't have like to have found that under my bed!

On Monday, I went to school as usual. I think the children are starting to get used to me- I got 2 notes from them, saying how much they love 'Teacher Shara'. When they were just sitting around not doing much I tried to play hangman, but they werent really interested. So Chris and I got out the brooms, and made karate movements with them, hitting the kids across the head which they thought was very funny (by the way- the brooms here are just straw tied in a bunch- not big wooden things!) In return they tried to teach me all the Ugandan dances which I was pretty rubbish at, but that just made them laugh harder.

I went home after lunch, and we didnt have electricity- so we couldnt bake the heart biscuits for tomorrow. The power did come on for about an hour though- so Karen and Emily rushed out, brought some sugar (at 9:45pm), made the mixture and made perfect heart shaped biscuits in time for tomorrow.

Valentines Day! We all wore pink today- including Chris who fashioned my pashmina in a variety of different styles. It did cause a few people to think that its an English tradition to wear pink on Valentines Day but never mind! We woke up and someone had written coloured in hearts to each up us and pinned them on the cabinet. They all had a little message on the back too- but we still dont know who it was!We have our suspicions though... So we pinned our hearts on and set off for school. I taught my first proper lesson today- Maths. It went quite well and I tried my best to make it interesting- they seemed to enjoy it and understand it, which is good. At break we handed out our biscuits to all the teachers, and Karen had written them all individual hearts too which they loved. I am now teaching the top nursery class after break every day- 4-6 year olds, who are really sweet, but they do have a habit of attaching themselves to your arms, saying 'I'm tired' and hanging off you which hurts your wrists quite a lot! Anyway I always teach them drawing and shading (colouring) so today I spent an hour drawing an shading a box and a tree. They dont work all that fast. I worked out how to make them laught though- I wiggle my bum while I'm cleaing the board and I hear this big 'AHAHAHAHAHHHHH' from behind me :)

At 12, Stephen drove Becca, Emily, Esther and I to the British High Commission, with the intention of being back in time for lunch at 2. We got to the Embassy at 1pm- which is when it closed (!) but the guard was nice and so snuck us in. So now we're registered as British Citizens in Uganda. Quick question though- while we're inside the walls, were we on British soil? Or is that just something they make up in films? Let me know because we were wondering. Stephen then went to the bank, and vaugely pointed us in the direction of the supermarket we'd never been to before. Unfortunately we knew it was by a clock tower, so we walked in the direction of this clock tower, which turned out to be the wrong one. We got a bit lost, and walked the entire way around the Ugandan Parlimentry building, before finally getting the right road and getting to the supermarket. It was great! Huge- kind of like Tescos- I could spend lots of time (and even more money) getting doughnuts, pasta salad, frozen pizza etc etc... but by this stage we still didnt have our shopping money for the month, so we had to make do with warm brown bread (a first) and jelly.

Stephen asked us if we were doing anything for the rest of the afternoon- no- and so suggested we went off to Entebbe to pick up all the shoeboxes that Smile had sent out, from the airport. We were all very keen so off we went. It didnt take as long as I remember before, but we did have to wait a couple of hours while Stephen paid the taxes and they were all cleared and everything. Almost 700 boxes in all! We wondered how he was going to fit them all in the minibus with us, but to our relief he'd brought a truck with him- so we watched as they forklifted the huge crates on. It was really good to be on the other end of the whole shoebox sending thing- they'd all been made by people all over the contry a couple of months ago (so all in Christmas wrapping) with different ages written on. We got excited just seeing the wrapping! I'll try and put photos up on Saturday. We unloaded them all at school- they filled Stephen's office- we're going to give them out on Friday afternoon. Miriam was in floods of tears for some reason, but was OK when I picked her up- she probably just wanted to remind us she was there! :D

We had our valentines day dinner- spaghetti and heart shaped omelettes, all lit by candlelight (despite the fact that this was one of days we had electricity!)
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