Day 1 - Tuesday
Our plane was actually early, the visa's easy to get and our luggage was ready and waiting for us as soon as we got to the belt so we were ahead of schedule for our 4.00pm meeting with Cathy and Charles. After numerous offers of a lift home and assurance that it would be a pleasant ride, we got a drink and worked out that the price of the drink can go up to whatever price until they have the right change for you! Quite nervous about how we would navigate our way to a safe hotel, let alone Jinja if our ride didn't appear, we were relieved to see Charles, the "stout brown man" Proscovia had described waiting, smiling with a sign saying 'Wanyange Girls - Olivia'. After we said our hellos we all squashed into a rather small, hot car for our 3-hour car ride to Jinja, our new home.
Cathy kindly took us our for a meal to the Mayfair Restaurant where, without even a question or doubt- she affirmed that, as we were English we would want Fish and Chips - and so it was ordered. What came was not expected and certainly far from the traditional chippy. (Luckily Cathy had popped out and did not see the look of horror on Lib's face. A full (eyes and all) fish - deep fried to a black colour lay before us. It was actually very tasty and not as scary as it first seemed!
Finally at the Guesthouse we were shattered but I think kept form collapsing by the sheer excitement of our surreal experience so far. Annette, the housekeeper showed us around and to our room - basic but fine- and got us to sign in. After unpacking and having a freezing cold but well need refreshment in the shower we fell fast asleep not quite believing that we were finally here…
Day 2 - Wednesday
After finally getting myself out of bed we rushed to breakfast- let's just say it wasn't the buffet spread of fresh fruit and coffee a hotel might serve! I popped on some toast which I gladly ate with a cup of Ugandan tea but which Lib was not too keen on. Then Annette cut up some fresh pineapple for us and I was good to go. Cathy cam as promised at 9.30 binging with her adorable son Valeria who was one year old but already walking! He stared at Lib and me in pure shock and Cathy told us it was the first time he had laid eyes on a white person. He must have thought we were right weirdoes. We set off in the school bus picking up various people who just needed a lift on the way and for the whole journey Valeria just stared and stared until her was so tired he fell asleep. Cathy had told us that Proscovia wanted to meet us so we ventured off the beaten track all the way up the hill.
Cathy had told us the trip was about 10minutues. This was obviously in Ugandan time! The setting of the school was absolutely beautiful overlooking Jinja town and Lake Victoria. We were finally met by Proscovia with a big friendly hug and se sat us down in her office to ask us how we were, how our families were how Withington was and how Mrs Pickering was! She laughed loudly at some of the things we said such as our dubious reaction to the school lunch -Poshu - some kind of hardened beans from what I can gather and she discussed our lessons. We told her we would like to teach Wednesday till Friday, which she said was fine. We met the head of English to discuss teaching a bit and the Director of studies asked if we liked music and asked me to teach a few lessons of music as well as English. We were told we would find out more about or timetable later and Proscovia then insisted that we come to her house for some freshly squeezed orange to sooth both Lib and my very bad and continuous coughs! Proscovia's house was lovely and her nieces were very welcoming. We were served orange Juice, biscuits and groundnuts and Proscovia's niece brought a bucket and soap and water to us to wash our hands. The Fresh orange juice - squeezed with a little sugar was delicious and Proscovia gave us some oranges to take back with us. Various people loaded into the bus again back down into Jinja main town.
Cathy took us to the supermarket to but our essentials - toilet roll, rice, a bathmat etc and then to get our Ugandan sim card. Then came our first experience of the Bodaboda which I could not stop calling bugabuga and which I have only now slightly corrected to budabuda. Cathy laughed when we said we were scared about it and it was actually really fun, not at all scary and very liberating and the cheapest mode of transport - only 500 Ugandan shillings( about 15p) for a 5 minute ride. Cathy welcomed us to her family home and we saw Valeria again - now a little less fazed by our appearance. We met all her brothers and sisters in law and sat down in her living room to load the money onto our Ugandan sim. Cathy also kindly gave us a full-length mirror to borrow for our time in Uganda to save us buying one. Another demonstration of Ugandan generosity. Cathy then drove us to indulge for a sandwich and smoothie and for Lib stale pita and peanut butter and then we finally returned to the guesthouse and said goodbye to Cathy until the next day.
After a bit of a sort out and chill on the balcony we decided to bodaboda it alone to the Adrift Campsite - a bar near the source of the Nile but our mention of it sparked no recognition in the bodaboda man's face and so we decided to stick o what we knew and go back to Indulge as neither of us fancied getting lost on our first day with no clue in hell where we were. However, the waitress at the Indulge café told us how far away the Adrift Campsite was and so we felt more confident and the drivers in Jinja knew where it was. So we went on - a rather longer and more scary ride down the main road and up dusty pot holed roads to the beautiful Adrift Campsite. We sat down with a beer and said hi to a couple of Australian travellers. The view over the source of the Nile was stunning and the atmosphere very relaxing, despite the same two Johnny cash songs on loud repeat! We stayed for about 2 hours and eventually a man who we later (after a subtle attempt to get our number by putting his number on Lib's phone and then calling his phone) found out to be called Julius approached us and told us about the white water rafting offered and chatted to us for a while. He called us a Boda boda and we went back to the Guesthouse and quickly got out to dinner at about 8.30.
We decided to both sit on one Bodaboda for nighttime journeys and although it was a bit of a squish, it wasn't as hot in the evening so it wasn't too uncomfortable. 2Friends restaurant was very picturesque and nestled in green, luscious surroundings. Many jokes were made by the locals about how we were two friends having dinner at 2Friends - what an unlikely coincidence! The food was lovely we both had feta cheese pizza and apart from the fact that the waitress brought me the wrong coloured wine and then stared at me like an imbecile when I told her and just shrugged it off our first meal out was a success. After another bodaboda ride back I was exhausted and fell fast asleep.
Day 3 - Thursday
After some confusion last night, Cathy had told us that she would meet us in the morning to take us to meet Godfrey Kikinga - the gentleman who would be showing us round Jinja with the other gap year students and be our kind of guardian whilst in Uganda. However, when I called Cathy over breakfast she seemed rather confused and told me that she would meet us at 2 o'clock if we wanted. Lib and I immediately jumped at the opportunity of a free morning and decided to head out to the Jinja Nile Resort where we could swim and relax for the day for just 6,000 Ugandan shillings (about £2.00). The pool was absolutely idyllic and like the Adrift Campsite had fantastic views over the Nile.We sat by the pool in the 29-degree heat, read and had a swim in the very refreshingly cold pool. It was great escapism from the bustle of Jinja Town. After a quick bite to eat at the Source café in Jinja where I had the strangest looking burger I have ever seen we rushed back. When we returned to the Guesthouse for our 2pm meeting with Cathy we realised that the students from Wolverhampton(Sophie, Miles and Rachel) had signed in and we were very excited to see some fellow gapers! They had just arrived and must have been as exhausted as we were so we told them where to get something nice to eat and not to fear the bodaboda! When I rang Cathy to ask if she was still meeting us she again seemed confused and asked if we had already met with Godfrey. However when we said we hadn't she told us that she would be there in 1 minute and true to form she was outside the gate in a flash in her car.
We went to meet Godfrey at his office and waited outside for a while as many people came over and introduced themselves. Godfrey eventually invited us in and greeted us warmly. He told us that there would be a meeting when all of the gap year students had arrived on Sunday at 2pm. He told us that he was there if we had a problem and he wanted to make sure we loved not hated Uganda and would give us a list of Dos and Don'ts! He was absolutely lovely. Afterwards, without warning Cathy took us on a bit of a detour up to Holy Cross School to pick up her youngest brother who was sitting an exam/interview to become a teacher there. He was a little bit subdued but told us his exam was in English and Maths (he held a ruler in his hand) and that he was just 16 years old and had finished school. There was an unknown woman in the front of the car who Cathy eventually introduced as her mother but Lib and I didn't believe her at first - she looked younger than Cathy herself!
After our new favourite smoothie - Naval Cadette - at Indulge we returned to the guesthouse and got to know Rachel, Sophie and Miles a bit better and sat out on the porch chatting for a while. We decided that we would go out to dinner again and give them their first taste of a bodaboda ride! Miles was a little too tired after all the travelling to join us but Lib, Rachel Sophie and I decided that we would try 'Ginger on the Nile'. The bodaboda drivers seemed unsure of where we were talking about but then nodded and we got on. After a long ride leading us out of Jinja Town we soon realised (as did our drivers who pulled over and spoke to each other in confused voices) that we had no idea where we were going. To save us getting lost in night time Uganda and to scare Sophie and Rachel off bodabodas for life, we decided to head back to 2Freiends, trusting that the drivers now knew where they were going, although the roads seemed very unfamiliar to us! We arrived safely at 2Friends and Sophie and Rachel were not too perturbed by their experience. We sat down and chatted and I had a really nice Chicken Byriani. It was a good job that we didn't end up at 'Ginger on the Nile' as Christine - an American lady staying at the guesthouse said it was a big disappointment and the drivers' confusion was explained when she told us that it had not been called 'Ginger on the Nile' for some years! I made PG tips tea to the delight of several Englishmen and women and then we sat down to watch Mama-Mia! Although one by one we all drifted off to sleep, exhausted form another busy day and we climbed into our mosquito net clad beds!