Saturday 23rd July
We have been on the move again. Leaving Kumi for the eight hour road trip up to Murchison Falls National Park, to check health & safety issues for the team visits. The closer we got to the park the more we became aware of the civil war in South Sudan, our neighbouring country to the north.
Not that we saw any troop movements; just lots of United Nations and charity vehicles. UNHCR and War Child vehicles mostly and they brought home to us the cost of war to non-combatants. Also driving along with us were dozens of petrol tankers to fuel the civilian population and also the government and rebel troops.
Many of the tankers cross Uganda with petrol and diesel from Kenya and some of them do not return. They get caught in the cross fire in South Sudan or are captured by one side or the other and have their loads stolen. Many drivers are killed. Despite the high risks, these drivers still continue with the work as they are paid very generously.
On our journey we passed a sign “Caution elephants crossing” and shortly afterwards met these. I am pretty sure that they are not elephants:
The Park recce trip was successful, we avoided any fierce animals and had more trouble with mosquitos than the Big Five. We slept under canvas despite hippos grazing between the tents at night. Fortunately, they only eat grass and are harmless unless you annoy them. Warthogs hang around the camp – they seem to like being near people and are usually found dozing near the dining room.
We went to buy some bananas today. The price quoted was the equivalent of 50p each. And this in a country where they grow wild everywhere. Alex, our Ugandan driver then went and bought the same bananas for 10p each. Having a white skin has a price attached to it.
We have had a number of entries into the funny signs competition in the last couple of days; my particular favourites are “Elderly Ox Tractor Project” (old cows used to plough fields – (this is actually true)), “Plan C Guesthouse” (I suppose Plans A&B didn’t work out) and “Mosquito Net Village” Guesthouse (would you want to stay there?) (Actually you would because the other guesthouses don’t always have them)
In the religious category we have “God First Intercontinental Trading” and “God’s Gift Main Depot.” The banner across the front of a taxi read “Try Jesus Andse” was, I think, meant to be “Try Jesus and See” but I was rather worried by “Girl Child Foundation Supermarket” (exactly what are they selling?)
An erratically driven minibus had “No-one is perfect” on the back and a poster advertising a foreign money exchange described it as “Forex Bureau next to 4 Turkeys.” I assume 4 turkeys is a café and not the real things.
Sometimes I wonder if I am unfair to Ugandans making fun of their signage but I know that if they came to the UK they would find much to laugh at, such is their nature, and always in a good-humoured way. I hope mine is likewise.
Our first team is now win the air on its way here. Are we ready ? We hope so. Blog entries for the next few days might be scarce as we work 15 hour days when teams are with us.
Keep smiling – we are !