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  • Day18

    Hopping snacks

    November 2, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We slept the night at Ziwa lodge with the quite surreal experience of ‘guard rhinos’ outside our bedroom window and I woke several times to the sound of their snoring, actually very gentle and quiet, considering the size of them! Instead of being the huge, threatening animals that they can seem, when sleeping and just happily grazing in their own surroundings, they are incredibly calm and lovely to watch, I think they might now be my top of the big 5!

    We got up before 6, to make sure we didn’t miss the rhinos waking up, which was quite an experience, under the backdrop of an African sunrise. We all sat on the balcony, with the rhinos literally a stone’s throw away and watched them gradually wake up, all 11 of them! They seemed to have quite a morning routine, get up, eat a bit of grass and go the loo! Quite amusingly they all liked the same spot for the latter and seemed to use a makeshift rhino toilet, which resulted in a huge pile of rhino dung just beyond our garden path! We were about half an hour late for our planned 7am breakfast as we weren’t allowed to make the 30m walk across to the breakfast area due to rhino traffic ! Eventually we crossed with the assistance of a ranger, but we needn’t have worried as breakfast was on African timing !

    So our planned for departure time of 8 am turned into nearer 9, but we thought this was still allowing ample time to arrive back in Kampala for the rugby World Cup final at 12md our time... however that didn’t allow for Saturday Kampala traffic ! The proposed 2.5 hour return journey took roughly double that, partly because of going into town to collect Aggrey, who was taking us to a local rugby club to watch the match. We eventually arrived at said club for the second half of the second half.... not the best moment to be in Africa in a final losing to South Africa! Nathaniel and I nearly got landed on by someone falling back off their stool in jubilant enthusiasm ! Suffice to say we didn’t stay around long after the finish, preferring to get some lunch at a nearby shopping centre, in the rain.

    We had planned to go back to Suubi for some more cricket but it was a bit late in the day, so we had another visit to the craft market then headed back to the mission apartments, which felt somewhat like ‘coming home’ after our night away. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, as usual, with a starter of fried grasshoppers, as recommended by Judith from the apartments, who said she can eat a whole tub whilst driving along. They are generally sold at your car window along the edge of the road and as we’d sat so long in Kampala traffic, we decided it would be a good time to try them. The only slight snag was, we saw some cooked ones and decided to have some, but by the time we were ready to wave the £1 equivalent out the window, traffic had moved on. So the next time we saw a box of them we were quicker off the mark, but as the seller handed me the sandwich bag full of them, I quickly realised they weren’t quite ready to eat, as they were still hopping around, albeit with their legs having been removed ! Caleb quickly took them on as pets, but as they then sat for several hours in the hot van before we arrived back at the apartments, they were somewhat less alive, in spite of Nathaniel’s amazing efforts at CPR. Not to worry though, chef David was happy to still fry them up and they were actually quite edible, almost a bit like savoury popcorn... sort of!
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  • Day23

    Day 23: Back to Kampala

    February 24, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The day started off very nicely: We went to a rhino sanctuary 🦏🇺🇬. Rhinos were extinct in Uganda, thus, this place is trying to bring the rhinos back to the far white rhinos only.

    We were walking through the sanctuary where the rhinos are running around freely. And we were able to stand right next to them...they are huge and it is an amazing feeling to stand this closely to these creatures 🦏 Again, we were also able to see lots of baby animals (as you know this makes me very happy 😊).

    Then, on our way to Kampala, we stopped to switch cars and quickly we were surrounded by several local children. They were asking for sweets so I gave them my cookies and afterwards we gave them pencils ✏️ and balloons 🎈 They were so happy ... incredibly happy ...

    I’m falling in love with this continent more and more every day ... before I left, some of you were telling me “I bet you are not coming back home after this trip”; well, let’s see 😉💛

    PS: Today I had air conditioning and a hair dryer for the first time in weeks ... heaven ... simply heaven 😂🙏🇺🇬
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  • Day20

    Kampala and Entebbe

    October 5, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    After our scary night bus, narrowly missing a huge crash, we safely arrive in Kampala. First impressions? It's much better than Nairobi or Mombasa, but it's still a large sprawling metropolis. We're staying at Five Horsemen, which sits on a steep hillside overlooking an army barracks. The views of the city are great, since the city broadly sits around a bowl-shaped series of hills, which allows for panoramic views from the rooftop bar.

    We head to the royal compound in the heart of Kampala, notorious for its connections to Idi Amin. Our guide tells us the fascinating history of Kampala and Uganda, a story of kingdoms which united to form Uganda, then turned against each other by a succession of tyrannical leaders. The morbid centrepiece of the compound is an underground bunker, ostensibly built by Idi Amin for an arsenal, but turned into a torture chamber. Strangely, since this is still a palace for the Bugandan king, the workers and families still live around the torture chambers.

    After exploring Kampala for a couple of days, we head to the nearby town of Entebbe. To get there, we need to take a minibus. In Uganda, these are simply called taxis, and most of them leave from the Old Taxi Station downtown. We try to get a taxi there, but due to the hustle and bustle, we can't get close enough, so we have to navigate the remaining block on foot. As we get closer to the heart of the taxi station, the lines of minibusses get thicker and thicker. There are thousands of them, parked in this huge open space. At one point, we are forced to take our bags off and squeeze through the narrow gaps between vehicles. It's claustrophobic, and it's amazing how anyone knows which bus to get. Eventually, with some help, we find the right minibus and make the short trip to Entebbe.

    Which turns out to be quite a boring town. It's the site of the airport, so most people just stay here on their way to and from catching a plane. We walk through the National Botanical Gardens, made famous by being featured in one of the earlier Tarzan films. It's easy to understand why such a location was chosen - It's magnificently green with the famous vines found throughout different areas of the garden. We spend as much time as possible here watching a family of monkeys play and soaking up the sun while having a beer overlooking Lake Victoria.

    We then head to the only other attraction in town- a beach on Lake Victoria called "Aero Beach" after all the old planes that are displayed there. It's bizarre- big jumbo jets and fighter planes just parked up next to a beach. We try to walk in and around the planes, but giant orb spiders stand guard, preventing access.

    That afternoon, we head to ViaVia, a hostel on the outskirts of town. It's a dream hostel- built around a small pond which attracts birds and bats, and with fantastic food and drink. We regret not staying here, but resolve to stay at any ViaVia that we find in future.

    Before we leave Entebbe, we stop off for an egg wrap at the Rolex Guy. Rolexes are basically omelettes wrapped in chapattis, but are perhaps one of the best street foods we've ever had. The Rolex Guy makes gourmet ones, adding different cheese or vegetables, and they are stunningly good.
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