I've managed to fulfill one of my long term Ugandan aims! I've always wanted to drive a boda boda (a motor bike that acts as a taxi) and now I can say that I have done! Woop! This came about when we were all on the ferry over to Kalangala, the main Ssese Island, we shoved our stuff down by the edge of the boat to look out over the water and Pieran noticed that one of the card board boxes among the mass of other people's stuff actually moved by itself. Not what we were expecting, he peered inside only to see a pair of eyes staring back at him! We all took a look inside and since it was dark inside the closed box, couldn't decide between a dog, rabbit or cat. Feeling really bad for the poor creature locked in the box, we left it, this time being careful not to squish any of the other boxes. It's common for Ugandans to transport animals in public transport and we can often see chickens being carried in plastic bags etc. Later on, a Ugandan man stretched over and dropped some food inside the box… we got chatting to him and it turned out that he had being travelling in Ethiopia and was bringing back a pet puppy :) The man, Grace, turned out to be a genuinely lovely person… a 22yr old Ssese Islander just finishing high school who is a dedicated volunteer leader in the Boy Scouts and some other organisations. We were asking him what there was to do on the Island and he offered to take us out boda driving! Of course, we jumped at this offer and met him the next day!
Our camp was right on the shore, near where the ferry docks and his house is up the hill in Kalangala town (smaller than Bulenga village!) where he lives with several other people at what seemed to be a thriving small farm. They had an impressive range of animals for Uganda including goats, cows, chickens, pigs and of course we then saw the little puppy looking much happier, running about the garden happy as larry! Grace said he would name her after my old dog who died last year, Tanya :) So anyway, we left on our boda bodas from his house… Me & Lyndz initially riding on the back of Grace's bike and Pieran driving his own, he got used to it very quickly and slowly followed us across the island to the opposite shore to some caves that Grace wanted to show us. He was saying that in the 1970s about 60 people lived in these caves which is incredible as they were tiny… when the four of us went inside we had to stoop to avoid banging our heads and it was cramped with just us there so its very hard to imagine 60 people there. Nowadays the people all live in wooden shacks (almost looking as if they were built from driftwood nailed together) beside the caves which I got the privilege to see when I said I needed to pee and got taken inside one of Grace's friend's houses… it was a very narrow dark corridor with no flooring stretching only about 3 meters on front of me. It had three bedrooms (occupied by around 20 people in total) and a room at the end which I thought was the wash room but turned out to be the toilet yet there was nothing there, just floor which they throw water over once they're done. The people live by fishing, which unfortunately is a dying industry up in Lake Victoria due to over fishing, and we saw them drying silver fish on the beach just down from the old caves.
So anyway, Lyndz and I got to drive the motor bikes on the way back which was so cool! The clutch was similar to that of a car where you've got to hold it down to change gear and on the first go I let the clutch go far too fast of shot forward, sending Pieran very nearly right off the back of the bike! But after that it came naturally to me, changing up and down gears and passing other traffic on the bumpy dirt track… it has made me even more determined to buy a motor bike back home in the UK.
We were staying at a place called Hornbill Camp which we instantly loved! A total eco camp run by a pair of German stoners… totally off their faces, singing and dancing, welcoming anyone who needed a cool place to stay. They have a pet Great Dane dog and a very comical pig that ran around the camp and we even saw it paddling in the sea! Lyndz slept in the tent and Pieran and I opted for the budget dorm - bed bugs, fleas and rats but it was comfortable and that's all we needed :) The food at this place is impressive! Fair enough it takes over an hour for your order to be made but well worth the wait! We all loved the giant veg & cheese samosas… they were the size of the plate and had everything in them, mmm I'll miss them! Dinner was great too, we put our names down and everyone at camp ate together at the same time having a buffet of rice, potatoes, spaghetti, g-nut sauce, fish, cassava and salad. I have stuffed myself and totally over eaten this week!
The next day we took out a traditional wooden canoe into the lake for 3 hours. Taking turns with two of us paddling and the other bailing out the water we went on a good tour of the bay, finishing by meandering up the coast occasionally turning into the trees to look at the wildlife and vegetation. We saw a huge ant nest on one of the water flooded trees and the tree was just crawling with ants, there was millions of them!
The following day Lyndz and Pieran went on a 2 and a half hour nature walk with a tour guide while I went for a run down the beach. The rest of the time was spent chilling on the beach, reading in the hammocks and over eating!
On the ferry back to Entebbe this morning we got chatting again to young Ugandan guy who has set up his own charity. It is called 'Hope For African Children Ministries - Uganda' and was based around the fantastic idea of helping communities by donated families two pigs, one male and one female so that they can bred them. Once the piglets arrive the charity will take two of the pigs and give them to another family so that it continues. www.hfacm.blogspot.comI was so impressed by this guy and hope other Ugandans will be inspired by him to make positive change. We are meeting him and his friends tomorrow for lunch, will be interesting.
"That's all folks, stay turned!" says Pieran :)
Think I've written enough for now! Will keep you updated :)
Lots of love, Nic xxx