Back to Kampala

Thursday 23rd July.

It is night and we are back in Kampala. Ten hours of travelling with stops for drinks on the way. I am beginning to get to know this road, or at least some of the major landmarks on it.

We started on the sparse tree studded plain of Kumi, went past Mount Elgon (the widest extinct volcano in Africa but not the highest), through miles of papyrus covered wetlands, into green rolling hills that look just like England except the green is sugar cane and not grass; across the Nile at Jinja, through the Mabira Forest Reserve (looking a bit like Sherwood Forest but ten times as big) and then into the continuous traffic suburbs of Mukono and Kampala.

However, on the way, we were invited to the home of the manager of one of our project partners. We arrived at a 50 acre farm on a hillside overlooking the mountain and were treated to tea under his shady garden trees. It was an oasis of calm amidst traffic noise and fumes. He lives with an extended family of brothers, cousins, grandchildren, aunts etc. all within what you can only describe as a family village. His father had five wives (polygamy is legal in Uganda) which does tend to extend the family a bit. We were introduced to one of his stepmothers who looked about 90 but was probably my age. She was out in the field stooped over a hoe. She was glad to see visitors with grey hair. She was the oldest person I have met so far. Life expectancy in Uganda is 53 and there are few of her generation around anymore.

Today’s prize for the strangest shop sign goes to “Another Life Pork Joint” and I could not work out whether “Christ Power Centre” was a church or an electrical shop. In was in a row of buildings and could, from a quick look at the outside, have been either.

The prize for today’s best philosophical statement on the back of a lorry is split equally between “Don’t Try Me” and “What is Next”. This is all becoming vaguely similar to Iain M. Banks’ science fiction books where spaceships are given odd names. I quite like the idea of boldly going where no man has been before in a spaceship called “What is Next”

We spotted many smart new tractors in the countryside parked in main streets outside cafes. They are almost certainly gifts of aid from overseas. What lets them down are the ancient tatty trailers they are towing. I think if I was given a smart new Massey Ferguson I would unhitch the trailer before driving down to the café. The old trailer does rather spoil the image.

Sorry – no new pictures today; I have not taken any.

Tonight we are staying at Whitecrest Guest House in Kampala. A beautiful old colonial style building run as a family venture. Amy is downstairs watching cartoons with their kids. Richard and I are on our laptops. Tomorrow, we are shopping for the team in Kampala. Or maybe four hours of queuing in traffic and one hour in the shops. What joy!

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