Illegal alien

Had a great Ethiopian meal last night, think I already mentioned that, but here’s the photographic evidence…

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… With Steve and Terri from Melbourne and Laura from London.

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BUT….
Seems the trials of my journey to Nairobi weren’t over. On entering Tanzania today it transpired our man hadn’t actually been issued a visa as he came into Kenya on that ill-fated bus. Oops. Nothing that US dollars couldn’t fix though.

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AND NOW, ON OUR SAFARI…
Lunch, excellent ! 12 of us now. Good group.

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Scrubbing up duties. Lovely to be in Tanzania..

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Quick stop in Arusha. I-cafe? Let’s see… A cafe anyway…

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And we’ve just been joined by 3 Polish travelers. What a meet band we are!

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Zebra crossing

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Our man had landed! Not even a fourth attack of malaria (i know) can dampen my Serengeti spirits, not too much anyway.

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We’ve got an excellent group of 12 (we must remember that you don’t take photos of the Masai and you really MUST scrub your hands in dettol before eating) and seeing as the truck holds up to 23 we have plenty of room in which to rattle. A long day from Nairobi felt easy, just the right number of stops for “downloads” to cater for the amount of water being “uploaded” .

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We switched to 2 smaller Land Cruisers which have pop tops for viewing …

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and broke down 3 times before reaching Serengeti…

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The brake fluid leaked and was replaced with soapy water.
The road to and through the Park is pretty rough but we arrived yesterday and have spotted so many wonderful, free, natural, seemingly relaxed  animals (but apart from lions at the top of the food chain, you know that’s only a front)…

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Here’s one having a li-in…

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And one sitting right by the road, apparently probably an outcast juvenile, poor chap..

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Size doesn’t matter to me

The little ones are just as cute…

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…and the scenery is beautiful…

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Here’s a leopard, just hanging out after a good feed on a warthog piglet.. A wim-a-way…

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And soon these guys will move in…

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Everywhere death is just round the corner…

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That’s the amazing thing here. Cue Elton John, the CIRCLE OF LIFE!
The most misleading thing about zoos is that every species is captive separately; here they mix and mingle with respect and caution.

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I love it here. It’s commercial, yes but it’s really natural. Vast plains, vast flat plains with millions of beautiful African animals.

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You turn another corner and there’s another leopard..

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And before you can turn the next there’s a water hole with zebras…

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….and hippos….

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You could walk over them. Now back at the campsite with a 50 or so others…

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And slowly waiting for the tablets to kick in. I really could do without it.

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But what an experience. With, from the left, Michelle from Melbourne, Terri and Steve from Sydney, Laura from London, Artur, Rafael, Mike and Alex from Gloucester, Alex’s sister Liz and Simon from London, Pole#3 and tour leader Dan at the front…

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Not sure how long will pass before I get to a wi fi and can upload this. Meantime, here I am, the ending of an adventure, in a dream, the reward after the ups and downs, what to me really, is the pearl of Africa…

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Postscript:
Lateral thinking problem, row of tents with wet patches right outside each one….
Clue. Been warmed that hyenas and lions roam freely through campsite at certain (undefined) times, at night…..
Up at 5.30, no hyenas but we definitely heard them at night. Instead, family of giraffes sniffing out the shower block. Magic!

PS2, the Land Cruiser we’re in had 2 spare tyres and we’ve just had our third puncture….

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From Uganda with love

It seems fitting that a new Bond film comes out as Our Man in Kampala is re-assigned to another diplomatic mission, this time in friendly Kenya.

His journey here however was not friendly, beset with agents determined to make the transfer as tricky and as frought with danger as possible.

Never trust a bus company with a name like Kampala Coaches; our man should have known better.

The bus was due to leave Iganga at 7 am. It turned up at 8.30. No surprise there; our man didn’t get to where he is today without expecting things to run on African Time, oh no, you can bet your life.

But instead of heading east to Nairobi, it turned west and went to the police station, impounded for having 4 bald tyres and two missing wheels. I guess it still had 8.

The angry mob of disgruntled passengers spent 4 hot and frustrating hours persuading the police, a judge and the bus manager to get the wheels fixed but no, the bus had to go to Jinja to be officially inspected by the official inspector of vehicles (known as the IOV). And of that meant another opportunity for a bribe to be paid to yet another official there but who am I to judge morality when we need to get the absolutely shocking road under the show? Answer me that. 

The driver by now had run off, afraid of being imprisoned because apparently he had been warned 3 times about the tyres.

Our dehydrated man with the high blood pressure consequently booked on the next bus instead, leaving at 4 pm supposedly, but the trouble was there wasn’t room for everybody (i started a movement). So when the second bus came  along (at 5 pm) there was another argument about what to do, during which time the second bus driver HAD been imprisoned, for insulting the police, which meant we had no driver for what was decided would be a doubly over-packed bus to Nairobi.

At 6 the driver was released on bail. The other driver was extracted from his hide out (we needed 2) and we set off for a 10 hour trip which took 12.

BP starring to settle as darkness fell over the bus and its merry party of sardines, but further mysteries were yet to unfold!

At the Kenyan border we got off to do the immigration things, the bus moved forward to wait for us, but 20 new passengers who had booked seats on our bus (remember we were already a composite of 2 buses and over-loaded) took their seats…. And as WE started arriving and realizing it WAS our bus but it had the wrong passengers on it, the bus driver decided this was yet another ugly scene he would rather avoid,  so when he reckoned there were enough seats over-filled, drove off. Leaving maybe 5 people stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with their luggage heading at high speed for Nairobi. I protested, to no avail. Astounded, it was hard to relax, my blood pressure high once more, I was just sad and depressed at what I’d become a part of.

And I missed my first night in the hotel, arriving at it, at 7 am, falling into the sumptuous sheets and sleeping for 2 hours before having my first hot bath in 3 months, followed in slow succession by sausages and baked beans for breakfast. You can have NO IDEA how good that tasted after 3 months of boiled banana.

24 hours I will not forget, but which I would really like to.

From trundling along overnight, trying to sleep on the bus, speeding over bumps that every minute or so would project us upwards, vertically, like a Saturn 5 until the trajectory was forcibly stopped by impact of one’s head on the inoperative TV screens, came a surprisingly enlightening revelation. It was really troubling to be on such an unknowable mission. But then like a thunderbolt , a turning point in the route to depression; the glass was suddenly 3/4 full. God, here I was, heading for a new and exciting adventure, coming from the same, meeting Ugandans with weird ideas about leaving people behind, heading to my first home where loving people would warm my heart again, coming from the same in my second home, money in my belt and watchful stars above.

Now I can enjoy Nairobi with the group of people I’m about to spend 2 close weeks with…

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…well, not those ones. A real hotel with real sheets that are big enough to tuck in, without holes ..

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And a pool, and real food..

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Out man may be out of comms for a while now but will update whenever possible. Over….

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The last supper

Independence day! Uganda is 50 years old and it seems like all the world is celebrating…

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Lots of guns and marches, goodo. And it’s my celebratory dinner party too..

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The office took me and doctor volunteer friends Jonathon and Fiona, to the Ntindi  Hotel Resort, very flash by local standards. We had chicken and chips, and Guinness,yay!
And I was presented with a formal letter of appointment to my job at MTCEA as International Relations and Development Officer (only official when I confirm acceptance in writing with my CV), and an equally official MTCEA staff teeshirt…

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Wonderful!

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Webaale, Igamga. Sorry to leave, sad to part.
Off to Nairobi….

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…………………………………

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Shots in the arm but with different results

Today was just what I needed, a booster before I leave Uganda on Friday.  I visited some farmers groups, and i just love Ugandan farmers…

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This is lovely Patrick, and his new “zero grazing” cattle unit (a cow pen).

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Lunch , chicken and rice, and such genuine gratitude from all the family and wider group for what MTCEA has done for them.

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And here’s Ajab, writing a receipt! Yay, some micro loans actually being repaid. Actually we had a pretty good day re. collecting debts, although I did feel a bit like the Sheriff of Nottingham, quite unfairly.

Death is never far away here. One of our farmers’ sons, 10 years old, got malaria. In fact we saw him being sent home just 3 days ago from Iganga hospital after the same quinine IV drips that I had. He wasn’t so lucky.

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We went to his burial. So sad, so sad. This could so easily have been me, or one of my children. That’s how random this all is.

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Happy times…


Just Awesome.

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