For those of you who read the blog post from Thursday night and are now feeling confused, you have every right to do so. I think it would be fair to say that I’m finding reintegration into the UK a difficult business and there are still some stories to tell and some summing up to do.
I had about five hours sleep on Thursday night and was awake more or less constantly from 2.00am on Friday morning, As soon as the birds were singing (6.30am on the dot) I was up and about. By 7.00am Steve, Jan and myself were walking around the zoo at a leisurely pace and exploring some of the shoreline of Lake Victoria.
The others all joined us for breakfast just before 9.00am and then we got organised for the day. The Nature’s Frontline team had a meeting and some of the others were going to wander around the zoo, but Mrs Green and I had some jobs to do. After loading up the van with our suitcases ready for the airport later, our first job was to buy prizes for our competition winners and Ronnie had recommended a market store which had competitive prices. When we got there we found out the prices were anything but competitive so I had to go into full on haggling mode (something I would never do in the UK). While Mrs Green usually takes the extremely polite mode I took the complete opposite approach. I was (a) too tired and (b) too hot after dragging myself the best part of a mile up a hill, to think of being too polite and played hardball with the girl running the stall. After a couple of minutes work I managed to secure a discount of over 20% which was very satisfactory.
We started walking back towards the zoo to say goodbye to Steve, Jan, Carrie and Rebecca who were on an earlier flight home, but they were driving up the hill anyway so we were able to say farewell without adding a couple more miles to our walking.
Our next stop was the market at Entebbe. There were two reasons for this: Firstly to pick up a few gifts for friends/family and secondly to find if we could get an African dress made for Mrs Green. This was really important to me as she had missed out on this in Kasese as she was in another group from me and they didn’t particularly enjoy the atmosphere. Kasese can be an intimidating place at times, but it’s somewhere where I’ve always felt very confident.
At first the signs weren’t very good; there were plenty of clothes stores, but nowhere where they actually made the dress from scratch. It took the best part of an hour to actually find a place, but it was worth it as the lady who was the dressmaker was absolutely lovely and made Mrs Green feel completely at ease. We negotiated a price and arranged to collect the dress at 4.00pm.
With three hours to spare and even Mrs Green feeling tired, we needed a place to enjoy a long leisurely lunch. I picked up my phone to call Ronnie but as if by magic the van appeared anyway. He told us he knew of a great little place and as we drove around Entebbe we saw Liz, Meg and Bea who were happy to join us. The great little place was a pizzeria on the shoreline of Lake Victoria with golden sand and the water nearly lapping up to your feet. Mrs Green and I shared a pizza and had a bottle of Nile (our last) while we soaked up the fabulous view.
Ronnie turned up at 4.00pm on the dot to collect us and we drove back down to Entebbe Market. We said goodbye to the others who were heading for the airport and headed down to the dressmaker’s stall. As the photo shows the result was very pleasing indeed and I was very chuffed for Mrs Green who (as usual) had spent the entire trip thinking about others not herself.
With our business concluded we met Ronnie and headed for the airport. It was very sad saying ‘goodbye’ to him as he’s become such a good mate over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had so many laughs together. We took some last photos with him and headed into Entebbe Airport for the long flight home.
Some final (and occasionally random) thoughts
* My abiding memory of my first trip to Uganda was the incredible wildlife, the second the amazing views. On this trip it was definitely the teaching and strengthening my relationship with the children at Kafuro. It was a massive endorsement of why I chose this profession. On the days I wasn’t in school I felt that I had lost some of my purpose.
* The generosity of spirit of the Ugandan people is something to behold. I’ve lost count of how many times I received acts of kindness.
* The day the children built my ‘house’ was just the most magical day possible and has officially entered the top ten of ‘the best days in Mr Stanley’s life’. The parents, teachers and children are just incredible (I’m welling up as I write this) and there’s so much we could learn from them. To finish the day at nearly three in the morning under a crystal clear sky stargazing was awesome. And Mrs Green (if you’re reading this) that constellation was Pegasus not Libra! Google Sky Map said so, so it must be true!
* Driving in Uganda gave me a real sense of independence and once I had picked up the rules of the road (the first rule of the road in Uganda is that there are no rules) I enjoyed the challenge of driving in some very varied conditions.
* The roamer was the surprise star of the show. At times the classroom was so packed with children watching (and parents watching outside) that you could barely breathe.
*The partnership between Kafuro and Liss is in rude health. The Twinning Project has made an enormous difference to both schools and I feel there is still so much more to come.
*The other schools in the Twinning Project have some fab ideas and it will be interesting to see them develop. Check out the links from this site. Likewise the interviews that Nature’s Frontline carried out were great and their website is well worth checking out.
*Working with the Banded Mongoose Project was great and we hope to welcome Jess Mitchell to Liss in the autumn term for a masterclass.
*The support of the children and parents at LJS to the Twinning Project is crucial. The children’s reading books that have been donated have made a massive difference to attainment. Whoever donated the book about the Ha Ha Powder should know that this one book alone has entertained the whole school. The Kafuro children were crying with laughter when they told me about the book.
*Yowasi is a legend! End of!
*This year’s Uganda soundtrack: Here comes the sun and I’ll follow the sun by The Beatles for all the lovely weather, The road to hell by Chris Rea and Highway to Hell by ACDC for the lovely drive up to Kyambura and Transit Lounge by Crowded House for the realisation that we had to go home.
*Africa just gets under your skin and changes your life. I wondered that with repeated trips the magic might start to wear off. Absolutely not! I cannot wait to get out there again! It’s a love affair that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling (hence the blog post title).
*For the two previous years I’d been the only member of staff from LJS to visit Uganda and it had been my own little secret as it doesn’t matter how much you tell people about it they can never fully understand it. At last there’s someone else who can deliver the message! Mrs Green has been an awesome travelling companion and I know the trip has made a massive impact on her. Her relationship with Africa is only beginning!
At this point I really am signing off as I have a beach to go and lie on for a week. Thanks for reading and have a good remainder of your summer.