Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take a Gander at Uganda

To get away from the big city life in Kigali, I took a trip to Uganda this weekend. I went to Lake Bunyonyi for a relaxing couple of days filled with hiking and canoeing…that’s right, outdoor activities for this sporty gal.

We got to the bus station around 11:15am, and what’s that?! A bus was leaving at 11:30am! After thoroughly discussing how lucky we were, our bus ended up leaving at 1:00pm. Over the border and into Uganda we went, rocking and rolling the entire way up and down mountains. We arrived in Uganda and immediately had no idea where we were. The easy thing about Uganda is people speak English. Which is good and bad, because in Rwanda I can have a conversation (I usually will talk really fast) in English and people don’t understand. But in Uganda, everyone can cut right into that private conversation. Sometimes I even talk to myself on the street in Kigali, but you’d just look crazy if you did that in Uganda.

Helmets are also not required on the motos, though they are introducing the law. This made the ride from Kabale to the lake the most insane ride of my life. It was very potholey and windy up and down a mountain with tears streaming down my face because of the wind, and the fear. When we arrived at our destination, the European owner had no idea that we made reservations and declared they were full for the night. Luckily we wrote down two numbers, so realized we had to go to one of the islands on the lake to sleep. We walked down the street and met Gad, our soon-to-be guide for the weekend. He offered to take us to this island in his dugout canoe – which we somehow thought was a better idea than the motorized boat. We climbed in, but this was no free ride! We were expected to paddle as well. When I say “we” I clearly don’t mean me. Let’s be real. I comically paddled for a minute and a half, while Tim rowed the entire half hour. And I’m sore.

This island is owned, or maybe owned I’m unsure on that story, by a New Yorker. It is a very European hostel, well maybe American but I’ve never stayed in an American hostel. Either way, we had 14 roommates! To my delight, as I tiredly climbed into bed, I realized the sheets were damp, probably not given enough time to dry. I tucked in my mosquito net anyway and drifted off to sleep – only to awake with a mighty cold. A cold in Africa?? Yepp, so stop complaining about the winter DC.

Gad came to get us in the morning for a canoeing adventure. We explained that we did not want to do anything touristy, so he took us to a village where his sister lived. One of the villagers offered to make us lunch, which I hesitantly and Tim readily accepted. On the menu: pork. After photo shoots with the village kids, we sat down to eat. Here’s how that went down:

Gad: Here you go, we have no forks

Tim: Do you have a spoon?

Gad: [blank stare]

Tim: I’ll get the wipes

The bowl that we both dug our fingers into was full of pork bits and cabbage. I early on decided not to even try to eat the pork, as my weak stomach wouldn’t allow that – and lord help us all if I get another parasite. And good thing since one of the pieces still had the hair from the pig’s snout on it. Repeat: the pig’s hair from its snout. After eating what could only have been a bug, I decided to stop trying to pull out cabbage bits and allow Tim and Gad to finish the meal.

We left, causing quite a stir in the village, though I’m sure you all thought we’d fit in here, and went back to camp, where we ended the night with some new friends – a couple Australians, a very typical American and Brit. Another night with 14 strangers, and we made the painful ride of three matatus back to Kigali. All in all, good, interesting, relaxing trip. I’m including a picture of the Ugandan children and me (I’m in the middle, in the blue shirt).


  1. love that little boy in the back giving the camera the stink eye...--Meg

  2. oh my gosh! I just love that you type just like you talk - I could literally hear you telling me that story as I read. I laughed a lot.

    I miss you!

  3. Thanks for clarifying where you're standing in that picture, Norm. Things could have gotten really dicey if I hadn't realized which one was you!