After previous ‘days out’ with James I am always dubious of accepting his word that it is not many hours drive to his chosen destination! Ugandans have the tendency when you ask how long is a piece of string, journey, length of time for something, to greatly underestimate so ‘just a short journey’ could take half a day or more! Today, I am glad to say my doubts were proved wrong and we were using English measurements. OK, not quite, Alex my friend and driver for the day arrived 45 minutes late but that’s not bad! We set off loaded with my essentials – water, camping loo, suncream, sunhat, fully charged mobile phone, first aid kit and mosquito repellent just in case we get stranded! You may laugh but I’ve been there, done that – been stranded when the vehicle I was travelling in broke down or there was not enough time for the return journey before dark so had to bed down unexpectedly. Fortunately on that occasion with two lovely girls!.There is no AA or RAC or other emergency service we take for granted in the UK available out in the sticks of Uganda or even come to that, in the towns unless you have lots of money and pay upfront! So I now go prepared for every eventuality!
So with James travelling in the front and me in the back of George, Alex’s seven seater vehicle with Innocent who had joined us for the day we set off in what was still the cool of the early morning. The time went quickly as there is always something interesting to see and it was good to have Innocent to chat to. I inquired after an hour or so whether we were half-way yet and James answered ‘oh yes, dear’. And I think we were but we suddenly hit the rough mud road with potholes and deep ruts where I felt really sorry for poor George, he was taking a real hammering. And of course it wasn’t just the condition of the road that slowed us, the numerous animals particularly long horned cows wandering around on their own, were a constant hazard. Apparently they all find their way home at night.
Before we arrived at Kiyindi there was a distinct aroma in the air and when we parked up by the lake I understood where it came from. The whole town was awash with racks of drying silver fish having been caught the fishermen overnight.
Everywhere you looked there was fish and more fish laid out to dry in the hot sun, and it was mighty hot that day! Ladies were constantly turning the fish over either with their hands or with brooms if the fish were on mats on the ground. Children and even babies lay underneath the racks of fish that must have given them a little relief from the stifling heat. The place stank of the fish and even the breeze off the lake didn’t diminish the stench. Of course everyone living and working in Kiyindi has probably only known it to smell like that so they wouldn’t notice.
(click on the following pictures for a slide show and larger image – just found out how to set this up – Norman!!)
It was interesting though wandering along the lake shore watching more boats coming in and new boats being make. We were all gasping for a drink but I couldn’t imagine any of the places I could see would do refreshments and those that did look like bars were deserted and so I thought closed but the men knew better. If you want the owner of a bar to open just go around the back and call. The owner of this bar was just busy doing her chores and came straight away to serve us with ice cold sodas. We were probably a good catch, get the pun, and her sole profit for the day!
We even discovered across from the bar a garden right beside the lake and other than a couple of drunks laid out on benches it was a nice placer to relax before exploring further. The pied kingfishers and cormorants were busy diving into the water right in front of us.
I hadn’t realised that this was more than just a sightseeing tour James has brought me on. I was getting very hot and had left my sunhat in the car so Alex went back for it but brought George with him. I’m so glad he did as James wanted us to walk quite a distance more and the heat was unbearable, for me anyway.
He wanted to show me a clinic that was built and run with the help his wife Joy. She was one of the pioneers selected by an NGO to head a nursing team. At the same time James was selected to start a school nearby, starting under trees as he did St James. His three eldest children started their education in the school.
The clinic was heaving with mums and babies as it was Baby Clinic day. The corridors were packed and even on the stairs the mums-to-be sat waiting their turn. James introduced us to the receptionist who immediately ushered us through the throngs to a room at the back where there wasn’t an inch of space. Ladies were crowded round this table and I wondered for a minute why we had come but then a head popped up. It was the doctor and he had worked there since the clinic opened and remembered James and Joy well.
Before heading back to the fishy town we had a quick look at the school, now very much established but of course deserted being the school holidays. James never ceases to surprise me with tales from his past. He has certainly done a lot in his 65 years!
As well as the silver fish for sale it was the main market day in Kiyindi and what an experience. Every street was packed with traders selling just about everything you could imagine. We were after two items in particular, trousers and ‘slippers’ for James. My friend Liz had given me some money to spend on him and he was in desperate need of both! James looked at the piles of second hand trousers on mats and at the tall stands of brand new ones. He eventually bought two pairs exactly the same for about a fiver each. Thanks again Liz, he enjoyed being treated!