Uganda 2016 Day Two – Tag Rugby Preparations

It was a very strange night by Ugandan standards. I woke up at 06.30 with the wind blowing a gale, but no thunderstorm – something that I’d not encountered before in Uganda. It was more like UK weather.

I was up by 08.00 and had my first bottle shower of the trip. Believe it or not, the water didn’t actually feel too cold and it was fairly refreshing. I’m not sure I’m going to say that every day but it was really nice to feel clean again. After Mrs Green and Henry had showered and dressed, we walked down to Tembo for breakfast. We were the only customers, so we sat outside overlooking the Kazinga Channel. Henry and I had Ugandan Rolex (for the benefit of Mrs Frost who asked what rolex is: it’s an omelette wrapped in a chapatti. Rolex is slang for rolled eggs!) while Mrs Green had a fruit platter and toast. As we sat there the wind dropped and the sun came out: it was going to be a very hot day.

We left for Kyambura at 10.30 and had a pleasant drive out of the park without seeing a great deal of wildlife other than a few baboons. Next, we had to experience the road up to Kyambura. Regular readers of my blogs from Uganda will remember this road is my least favourite in the world due to the preponderance of potholes. In order to navigate the road, the car has to ‘dance’ through the potholes. This year the road was in worse condition than ever, but there has been a very Ugandan solution to the problem. They have cleared away the foliage away from either side of the road and sent a steamroller over the exposed mud and clay to create a relatively smooth and hard surface. Bizarrely enough, it worked and we made reasonable time in our drive up to Kyambura. There were workmen shovelling dirt into the potholes in the middle of the road, but this is a futile task as the potholes will soon appear again. When I told a workman that they needed to dig up the entire road and start again, he shrugged his shoulders and told me, ‘This is Africa!’

When we arrived at Kyambura we were greeted by Hope, the headteacher of Kyambura Primary School. We proceeded to the school field where Yowasi and teachers from seven other schools were running Tag Rugby training in preparation for tomorrow’s tournament. We were asked to introduce ourselves and to give a brief speech. For Mrs Green and myself, this was quite easy as we are used to doing this as teachers. For Henry, this was more of a challenge, but he did very well.

The others busied themselves taking photos and talking to the teachers while I helped out with some of the training. There was plenty of sporting talent on display and the children responded well to my suggestions. I showed the children a few drills and took part in them as well. This resulted in me turning into a sweaty mass within five minutes and really gasping for air. While I know that I can be fitter than I currently am, it is worth remembering that in western Uganda you are at a much higher altitude and the air is thinner.

Lunchtime was slightly bizarre. Yowasi had the use of a van and asked us to follow him to a restaurant. We were expecting a long drive, but ended up driving fifty yards down the road. I may have to plant a few trees to make up for that. We had tilapia in broth with rice and matoke. This was nice enough, but not as good as grilled tilapia. We went straight back to training which continued until about 15.30. One of the teachers had bought her son with her and he couldn’t have been more than eighteen months old but he was crawling around everywhere with a tag belt fitted to him. I tried to offer him a bit of a brunch bar, but he wasn’t having any of it. I had the chance to talk to Muhudi (the teacher from Kafuro who visited us just before Christmas) about the cob oven and he gave me an answer to Jake Ball’s question. They are intending to use their cob oven to bake various sorts of breads and chapattis.

We arrived back in Mweya at about 17.00 and I had the opportunity to have a quiet beer and to read my book. Despite putting on loads of sun cream and wearing a hat all day, I’d still managed to catch the sun so I also had a little snooze. We headed down to Tembo at 20.30 where we had a good dinner of goat stew (Mrs Green), goat muchomos/kebabs (Henry) and chicken curry (me). Tomorrow morning, we have to be up very early for the tag rugby tournament which starts at 09.00. I will report on this tomorrow.

 

Finally, an answer to Mrs Frost’s question. A boda boda is a motor scooter and the most popular form of transport. In Kampala going on a boda boda ride is almost suicidal as no one wears helmets and everyone is a nutter! In the smaller towns it is less dangerous

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Uganda 2016 Day One – The day of the dog or a dog of a day?

Well the good news is that we have arrived in Uganda safe and sound. Our trip wasn’t without its challenges, but as I write we’ve just come back from Tembo Canteen after our first evening meal of tilapia and chips washed down with a cold Nile Special.

We started out at 07.30 on Wednesday when Steve and Amy Peach picked us up from Rowlands Castle and drove us to Heathrow Airport. This was a relatively stress free drive; the traffic wasn’t too bad and we arrived in good time. Checking in was a bizarre process: the queue for the baggage drop seemed to snake around most of terminal 2 and it was to Steve’s utter bemusement that he saw us pop up in different locations as we waited to get rid of our bags. After thanking Steve and Amy, we went through security and headed for the boarding gate. Just as we were about to go through, Henry realised he didn’t have his passport with him; he’d left it in the security box when he was checked. Cue a mad dash back to the security point from Henry and Mrs Green while I waited anxiously at the boarding gate with the dilemma of whether or not to board the flight if they didn’t make it back in time. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make this choice as Henry is a very quick runner (Mrs Green not quite so quick – but with great stamina) and they both made it back in time.

Our flight experience was the complete opposite of last year. Turkish Airlines was clean and well organised with a good choice of films (I can recommend Zootropolis) and tasty food. Transition at Attaturk Airport was easy with no security checks and we arrived on time at Entebbe at 02.55 today. As we had already got our visas, navigating customs was easy and our bags were first off the baggage claim. We were so quick that we actually left the terminal building before Ronnie arrived to pick us up: As we walked into the car park he was just pulling up.

We were very pleased to see Ronnie and (as usual) he had really looked after us. We had a Toyota Land cruiser for the duration of our trip and it was in tip top condition. Our first job was to exchange money and Ronnie had located a 24 hour money exchange in the middle of a casino in the middle of Kampala.  The exchange rate was very good and there were some very interesting ladies outside the casino, but we didn’t linger. This was the first time that I had seen Kampala so empty and quiet; apart from a few all night bars everyone was in bed and the roads were empty. After dropping Ronnie off, we headed for the Fort Portal road and we were on our way to Mweya.

The roads were pretty empty so I made pretty good progress driving. I had reached Mudebende (my first check point) before it was light and we made it to Fort Portal by 08.30. By Ugandan standards the weather was cold and overcast, but I was hot and tired. A Ugandan rolex washed down with a sugary coke soon gave me a boost and I was ready to get going again. Before we left, I had to sort out data for my phone (otherwise I would not be able to blog) so I went to the airtel shop and met my old friend Robinson, who has looked after me ever since I first came to Uganda. This was a quick visit and Robinson gave me a boda boda ride back to the restaurant where the others were waiting.

The next part of the journey was uneventful; Mrs Green and Henry spent amounts of the journey asleep woken occasionally by potholes in the road (which seems to have deteriorated since my last visit). We reached Kasese at 11.40 and stopped to pick up fuel and water. Our final port of call before reaching Mweya was the Ugandan Wildlife Authority Headquarters where we met Olivia, the community warden and shared our itinerary for the trip. Olivia was very friendly and keen to hear about our plans.

The drive onto the Mweya peninsula took ages and was boiling hot (the sun having finally come out) and we finally reached Hippo House at 15.00. The plan had been to go down to Tembo Canteen, have a beer and watch the wildlife, but I was so tired after the 30 hours of travel that I conked out until 19.30. I awoke to a spectacular lightning storm and a power cut, but this was short-lived fortunately. Henry thought it was awesome!

Tomorrow, we are going to Kyambura to see preparations for Saturday’s big Tag Rugby tournament, but hopefully it should be a fairly lazy day otherwise.

This blog is now open to comments and questions. I look forward to answering them all. Thanks to Jake Ball for his question. I will talk to Yowasi tomorrow and give you an answer then.

Finally, the reason for the blog title. Well, usually we would expect to see loads of wildlife, but even Ranger Heather could only spot one elephant, a few warthogs and a couple of waterbuck. We did, however, see loads of dogs everywhere. I could count the number of dogs I’ve seen in Uganda up until today on one hand. The other reason is that I felt like I’d been the character in A Hard Day’s Night. I’ve now got home to Mweya, so everything is alright.

 

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Preparations for Uganda 2016

The school holidays may have begun in the UK, but Mr Stanley has been very busy in the UK as he prepares for this year’s visit to Uganda. Mr Stanley has been compiling letters and class photos to take out to Kafuro as well as sorting out scout uniforms that have been donated by parents. He has also been measuring the height of sunflowers at Liss as he will be judging the competition between the two schools for the tallest sunflower. At the moment the Liss sunflowers appear taller but the Kafuro plants are actually flowering.

Larry the leopard has also made an appearance after a long period of inactivity. He is guarding an autographed rugby ball, which will be raffled out in Uganda to raise funds for conservation projects.

Meanwhile in Uganda, Yowasi has taken delivery of a great deal of rugby equipment that Mr Stanley bought. This will be used for training and the tournament itself on Saturday week.

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Joe the Ranger’s final post from Uganda

So here on the shore of lake Victoria ends my adventure. I have had a wonderful and met many truly incredible people. The past day and half have involved me being shown some sites by the Rangers, and seeing some different areas. I visited the Rwenzori NP, I saw some ranger outposts, and of course and abundance of wildlife. I have had a truly remarkable stay here in Uganda and have learnt many things. I have to thank UWA and the staff of Queen Elizabeth NP, Bwindi Impenetrable NP, and all the friends who have helped me on this trip and who have made is so enjoyable and unforgettable. I’m sad to be leaving but I look forward to returning next year, and coming in to talk to you all about my time here next term! I’m now in Entebbe airport waiting for my first flight, I should be back on the U.K by half twelve tomorrow afternoon.

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Footnote: Joe has arrived home safely!

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Liss weather station is now in operation

Yesterday, the long awaited Liss Junior School weather station was finally installed. Mr Haycock got on to the roof to install the weather vane and Neil, our technician, made sure that the wireless signal and internet connections were working properly.

Within minutes the weather station was sending in data. Just like Kafuro, we have a console which is kept in the school office, but it also possible to read our data from anywhere in the world. You can:

a) Click on the widgit at the top of the Kafuro/Liss blog home page

b) Access our Davis link

c) Access our Weather Underground link

Now both schools have weather stations, we hope to swap data on daily basis so that we can run maths and science investigations next year.

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