Jambo from Uganda!
Welcome to all those new followers. As you will soon see, my blogs are not only about St James but about my everyday life when I am in Uganda, the good, the bad and the exasperating! I hope it paints a picture for you of the place I call my second home and you will bare with me when I ramble on! There is often a delay from writing my news to you receiving it because of limited power and/on internet.
Sunday 27th January 8am – sat on my bed that could be big enough for one family, no kidding it must be king, king size, I’ve only taken up a quarter of it and I’m not small! I can hear and smell the dusty path being swept outside, the sound which will be with me every morning of my stay wherever I am – everyone has a pride in their home and a dislike for snakes which could be hiding in any debris! There’s a monkey sat on the tree outside my window and the sound of some big Uganda birds echoing around the beautiful gardens. I’ve been staying at Banana Village and Eco guest house (http://www.bananavillage-uganda.com) since I first came to Uganda in 2002 finding it a gentle introduction into Uganda.
My journey to Uganda this year started at 3.30 yesterday, leaving Poynton loaded with three overweight cases and two rather large pieces of hand luggage. I was hoping for check-in staff in a good mood! My heart dropped when I got to the airport, I am usually the only one at check-in and one of few non-business people on my Manchester to Brussels flight but I had forgotten it was Boxing Day. The place was heaving with holiday makers and the queue was enormous! I had been allowed an extra 23 kilo by Brussels Airlines but knew that each of my three cases were well over that. People ahead of me were being charged for their extra weight so I knew that today would be the day that they said no to mine too. Norman always comes prepared with shopping bags to take items home that I have to take out of cases.
My turn and the check-in man ask how many bags, I reply three, he replies I would have to pay for one, I reply that Brussels have allowed me an extra, he replies oh yes its on file, I place first case (I can barely lift!) on the scales and pretend not to see that it is several kilos over. He labels it, asks for the others and then wishes me a good flight. My heart which had been pounding nervously all through was now bursting with joy and I was longing to shout yippee! But, acting as if I did this every day of the week, I thanked him and walked cool as cucumber over to where Norman was waiting with two large shopping bags, now not needed. We exchanged a big hug of relief! Thank you Brussels Airlines for allowing me to take all I do to the children at St James each year!
The flight itself was long and tiring but I was fortunate to be sat next to a young mum who had been separated from her husband and daughter on the flight. She was Ugandan and her family had won a Green Card for the US five years ago and she was visiting her family in Uganda. We exchanged our stories. I had heard about this Green Card so found hers very interesting. She and her husband were just lucky to have won it but reading between the lines I personally think they would have been much better off if they had stayed in Uganda. In the US she and her husband had to work full-time on different shifts just to make ends meet, rarely having time together as a family. They have a tiny concrete apartment with no garden. I asked her if she regrets moving from Uganda and she told me she misses it terribly but wants to save enough to start a business. From what she said this is wishful thinking. Uganda has so much to offer if you don’t judge it monetarily. Why do people always think the grass is greener!
I had a bit of a shock when I got to Customs in Entebbe, the Visa had doubled in price since last year. Apparently the Government had had a Budget! With the National Elections in February 16 maybe they were gathering as much revenue as they can! Charles my faithful taxi man was waiting for me amongst a see of eager faces all vying for business. I spotted him as soon as he smiles! My flight was two hours earlier that usual having not stopped off in Kigali, Rwanda so I was looking forward to getting to Banana Village and getting my head down. It should have been a 15 minute drive but I hadn’t considered Boxing Day madness. The main Entebbe Road was one long traffic jam with crowds of people literally partying all around including on the road! Loud music was vying for the top spot. There were men on roller blades weaving in and out, others hanging from the back of matutu (local buses) hoping for a lift and almost falling off under the car behind (us) each time the bus jerked to start or stop! Charles kept the windows and doors secure otherwise we would have been forced to join the party!! The 15 minute journey took almost two hours so I was glad to get my head down as soon as I reached my room, after a cold shower of course!
I’ve got a busy day today visiting my friend Patrick who I have known since my first visit to Uganda in 2002 so I will be in touch again soon!