We were both up reasonably early as we had to brave the delights of Kampala for a meeting with the British Council. We had given ourselves 90 minutes to travel the 35km as we were both aware that traffic in Kampala is chaotic at the best of times.
Breakfast at the Serene Guesthouse was great. Omelette, sausage, chapattis, fruit, toast and honey. We were soon full up and ready for the trip in to Kampala. The first part of the trip was fine, we made it to the outskirts of Kampala in no time, then things changed. We experienced an hour of absolute chaos trying to get through the middle of Kampala to the suburb where the British Council building was located. Cars and buda budas were everywhere with no lane discipline and completely ignoring the traffic lights. It was so mad it was actually funny. In the end I resorted to honking my horn every few seconds and eventually I got where I needed to be. It was pretty hairy all told, but once we got through the city centre it got a bit easier again. Mrs Green performed miracles directing me with the satnav and eventually we found the British Council building. There was no visitor parking so two security guards at the Uganda Museum eventually took pity on us after I pleaded.
Before we went into the British Council building we popped into UWA headquarters which was next door. Bibian had left her Bible in the car the previous day and we dropped it off, so it could be sent back to Mweya. I also took the opportunity to say ‘hello’ to Josephine, one of the UWA staff who had worked at Mweya and was then transferred to head office in Kampala. Next, we entered the British Council building. It was like entering Fort Knox. Our mobile phones and my laptop were taken away and we had to go through security scanners. The building itself was surrounded by barbed wire with security guards everywhere.
After what seemed an eternity we were finally signed in and met Lillian, one of the Connecting Classrooms team. She was very friendly and wanted to know all about our trip (she had been reading the blog). We got some detail about why it’s so difficult for Ugandans to get UK visas and the future of Connecting Classrooms. Lillian was also really pleased that we had popped in for a visit, apparently most UK schools don’t bother to do so. Having experienced the security I can see why this might be so!
We eventually finished the meeting just after 1.00pm and Mrs Green and I decided to go and explore the Uganda Museum. For a fee of about £3 we got entrance, the right to take photos and a guide. The museum mainly focused on Ugandan traditions and the different tribes that made up the country. British colonial rule in Uganda wasn’t actually that long a period of time (68 years)and there was very little focus on modern history. We did get to explore musical instruments and traditional tribal homes as well as weapons and traditional medicine.
We left the museum at about 3.00pm and now had a period of time before we were due to hand the car back and be taken to the airport (11.30pm). We decided to drive back to Entebbe and this was far easier than I thought it would be despite the traffic. On the way we stopped off at Victoria Mall, one of the new malls springing up in the Kampala/Entebbe area. It seemed to cater to Ugandans with more money than sense or expats. There was a KFC, which was more expensive than the UK and a Nakumatt (a South African version of Sainsburys) where you could pay several times as much for fruit and vegetables. It seemed to me the last place I’d want to go if I was Ugandan, but maybe that’s just me.
Our next stop was the middle of Entebbe. We took the car to a garage to get refuelled and washed (£1.20). While the car was being washed Mrs Green and I went and bought presents and prizes for family friends and competition winners. After picking up the car we then had to pack everything away very safely; Mrs Green was particularly concerned about the Kafuro honey and honeycomb.
Our last meal was to be at Gorettis where we were due to be meeting Ronnie. Unfortunately, he was so busy that he could only stop in for a brief chat, but he passed on many messages of goodwill to people involved in the Twinning Project.
At 11.30pm we met our rep, handed over the car and were dropped at Entebbe Airport ready for the journey home.
My last blog post will sum up the trip and identify some highlights.