So this blog post is a compilation of various excursions in and around Uganda which includes my trips to Jinja, Garuga, Mokono and Iganga. I was also in Gulu during the last week of June; that being Northern Gulu which you should 'google' along with key words, like "Kony", "child soldiers" and "war" for more information but that was a week long adventure that I still need to properly gather my thought and pound out in a blog post all on its own. Ok, so in the mean time, we'll focus on the four places I mentioned above; a nice and tasty mix or both "work" and fam jam fun!
Real time: Tuesday July 7th
Context: Supervisor Joseph has gone who knows where for the day - I'm supposed to be working on my final report. But at this point, my report is actually finished - because the rest of my activities are yet to happen yet….
The only unfortunate part here is that the internet is not working on his computer - dang.
Saturday June 13th - Jinja; the source of the Nile
Ok, so maybe first I'll back up to Friday so every can understand what I crazy state I was in on this trip. Of course because my job entitles so much work, I only worked half day. Nonetheless, I arrived home ex.haust.ed! I couldn't even support my head on my body and was dozing out of control on the couch in our living room. To bed I went to to nap. I was awoken not too long later by a significantly raised voice, coming from my grandmother (in Luganda, Jaja). Seems one of our housemaids had tried to run away and my Jaja was NOT impressed. Umm - neither was I.
Fact: don't upset my Jaja - she's old enough as it is and doesn't have a bad bone in her body, so don't alleviate her blood pressure any higher than in needs to be
Fact: don't say you're going to beat up my Jaja, because
-see fact number 1
-and as my cousin Maria told this housemaid, we'll beat you up first: and there's an army of us, so we'll clearly win.
Yup - truth. Housemaids are a very puzzling concept to me and I'm yet to understand the overarching concept of the whole thing. Some of them are older than me, younger than me, my age and could be my BFFAEE! I find it very awkward not having to lift a finger - not cook my own food, not washed my own dishes or clothes for that matter. Some stay longer than others, but since my arrival they have failed to stay. In this case, this housemaid Grace had been taken by her aunt without permission or knowledge from her mother, so you guessed right - it was only a matter of time until the mother started to question the whereabouts of her daughter. And so with that, it was bye bye Grace.
Post this, I thought things would a pretty calm and quiet Friday night -and given that I was set to go to Jinja at 9am the next day, I was pretty ready for it. I was bathed and in my pjs when Jaja came into my room at around 9pm and asked me if I wanted to go for a dance - ie. Disco - ie. Club.
Fact: ever since I arrived, my cousins and every youth I've met talks about "going to club" and how they will take me. But it became to the point where no one was genuinely pursuing this and so I really thought it was just all a big talk. So when this opportunity presented itself, I couldn't help by silently laugh. And the way things are in Uganda, I was not going to believe that any of my cousins had even been to a club until we were smack dab in the middle of one. Jaja said we'd be returning very early in the morning. By this, I thought she meant 2…3…4 would a big push, so I couldn't believe it when my cousin Aretha and I dropped into bed at SEVEN AM. At this point my other cousin Maria was ALREADYAWAKE! She failed to realize that we had literally just returned which was not entirely funny; especially since I had to be up to go to Jinja is 2 hours.
The night itself was hilarious - here are some key points:
-boys paid for everything - this includes cover, drinks and food to cover your post club/early morning munchies
-there is no need to bring an ID - bouncers don't check; this extends to include a wallet and a purse (see point number 1)
-boys in Uganda are a lot less sleezy than the average Queen's boy. Boys should take note and learn.
-I think my tolerance for alcohol is much MUCH higher than that of my Ugandan counterparts….sweeeT….?
-Drinking and driving is slightly the norm, but I must distinguish and say it's not HARD drinking and driving. It's more casual "I wanna have a beer while I'm driving" type deal. Sure, why not, right?....
Overall the night was ridiculous and other highlights included stopping at the newly opened Kenyan supermarket NAKUMATT. It's open 24 hours and has a pool for swimming
What?!?! - I was a could finish with "that wasall a dream" but it was completely and entirely truth.
Ok - so now that we have some established context, let's go to Jinja.
By 9:55, Jaja was calling me. "GERRI!". Of course, I was behind schedule. Two hours of sleep after a night out of club is a a very very short doze and I had struggled to get ready. But at the door I went and when I arrived at my Aunt Anne's house, her first comment was "wow - you look fresh". sweeeT! Mission achieved!
Our company went from 4 to three as my cousin Natasha bailed as she was obviously too tired from our night out to join us. Lucky Ugandan born cousin of mine has probably been to Jinja more times than she can count and can thus sleep in until who knows what hour - jealous Gerri? Ya. Just a bit.
So it was my Auntie Anne, her boyfriend - who we call Professor D (as he is one, at Makerere University) and myself. The journey was about 2 hours and I'm proud to say I stayed for a large part of it. The excitement of traveling to a new place was thrilling and I just didn't want to miss any of it. As we passed fields and fields of tea plantations, going up and down through the valleys I felt friggin' on top of the world. If Professor had pulled over and told me "this is Jinja", I would have believed him and been entirely satisfied. The view was spectacular - so many different colours of green in one place, and the rush of fresh air - it was simply breath-taking. We also pasted through Mabira Forest which was a long long stretch of tall T-A-L-L trees - and now, maybe I'm a bit bias, but this forest was crazy beautiful. The trees stretch up so high and the combination of dark brown tree trunks, so many, so close together with the mesh of green leaves up above, was like nothing I've ever passed through before.
Ok, so we FINALLY reach Jinja, passing over this bridge which indicates a body of water was flowing below. Stop teasing me, I'm thinking - I just wanna swim in you! Professor turns and says "that's the river Nile". Uhhh - what? Excuse me. Damn it. I think. I did'nt even have my camera out to take a picture of the thing. Duh - you'd think I would have clued in at that point, but Professor had to spell it out for me. "That's where we're going.
Jinja is the source of the great river Nile and it's from here that the river begins to flow to Lake Victoria and then to the Mediterranean Sea.
Fact: it takes about 3 months to complete the 6400 km journey.
Now the Nile is not something we read about in school (at least I don't think so), but it's just a world renowned, internationally known landmark, but I had no idea it went through Jinja and that it was so close to Kampala!
Ok - I'm running out of vocabulary - thesaurus says another word for "beautiful" is magnificent.
Yes - exactly, seeing the Nile was magnificent.
We had lunch at the classy Jinja Nile Resort and then moved along to the Bujagali Falls (also part of the Nile) where we saw a man jump in and have what looked like a very enjoyable ride down the falls. Ok, stop it everyone. When is it my turn to swim?!?!?!
Hmph. Well, anyway. The day was obviously fantastic and at the end of it all, it was very nice to catch a few zzzzzzzz on the way back to Kampala.
Uhhh - whoa. So by the lengths of that post, I'm only going to write about only about one more place, Garuga since my trips to Mukono and Iganga as those are more "work" related adventures….
Sunday June 21st - Garuga; ridiculously big home? school? resort?
Garuga is located about 15kms before you reach Entebbe, and there we have a close family friend who is best friends with a man who spend much of his childhood growing up with my family - my mom calls him brother; Jaja calls him son and so without any question, I call him Uncle Fred. So - Uncle Fred's best friend is the one who lives in Garuga and he owes property just along Lake Victoria - approximated to be at more than 6 acres. I don't know what 6 + acres looks like, but this plot of land he has is HUGE. Somehow, he's also becoming hugely RICH and is in the near completion of some project which I don't really understand. The place looks like a resort, with little cottages here and there, at least 3 bars/kitchens, a big pool and a small pool, with changing rooms and beautiful gardens filled with flowers and greens every which way you look. But it also has plaques of information with facts about elephants and Uganda, and life-size sculptures of baboons and hippopotamuses - so wait, maybe it's a boarding school in the works? Well, no - the man and his son also live there, have housemaids and all that jazz, so it's also his home.
So I'm also confused.
Well, whatever, it is/is gonna be - once it's done, it would be a pretty sweet venue for a wedding in my books, so I suppose I should talk to my mother and tell her to stay good friends with guy, so he can give us a very hefty discount when the time comes….
We arrived in the early afternoon, had lunch and stayed well into the evening. It was all a bit perplexing trying to figure out what the heck is going on at this place. It took some pictures but there was really no way to catch the enormity of the place in its entirety, and you can't google search the place…yet, so for the time, to really understand, I think you'd have to be here.
But the day was pleasantly enjoyable -very good food and good company (ie. My Aunt Tina). My Aunt Tina is the one who drives me to and from work every day. She was once a teacher and has a way of explaining things much like her daughter Maria - who is ironically teaching me Luganda and who has been told by me and others that she would make a wonderful teacher, and yet she refuses to accept this as her destiny. But yes - my Aunt. So because I do not speak Luganda, my family is forced to speak to me in English and I say forced because English is not my family's first language (they learn it in school like we learn French) and my Aunt reminds me constantly when she's trying to explain something to me "…you know it's difficult for us to talk to you in English…" . Mmm, I know; sometimes we struggle to understand each other, in the funniest of ways, but I give her huge points because she does a very very good job of it (and should go back to teaching, says Jaja). While in Garuga, she would pull me up when we'd been sitting for what was seemingly too long and we'd go explore another corner of the compound. She would read to me from off the plaques, tell me about the flowers I didn't know and try to further stimulate my interest in Luganda by teaching me very important words - like "driving" which of course are incredibly helpful….when I …..ya, incredibly helpful. :p
So that was only two of the original 4 "adventures", but as I'm almost reaching the end of page FOUR on this word document, thus I think I'll take a break and wait til next time to update you folks on Mokono and Iganga, but in short, I guess that's just a little glimpse of how my family rolls…