Monday, 22 February 2010

Off to Congo

As I write I am sitting at Kajjansi Airfield waiting to fly to Congo. The weather is terrible so we will see if we take off or not. :)
I am off to visit with friends from the MAF East Congo programme. Up till now it has not been possible to go for a visit with work and family commitments. Now that Simon's parents are here for a visit and Simon has two office days this week I decided to use this opportunity to go. I will return on Wednesday afternoon. I hope to take lots of photos so I will post them when I get back. Pray for a good visit and for the family as they remain at home in Uganda.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

You know you've been in Uganda for a long time when......

One of my facebook friends belongs to a group called "You know you've been in Uganda for a long time when...." These are some funny things that we come across often when living in Uganda. I thought I would share a few with you. For those of you who have had the privilege of visiting this country you will appreciate them all the more. Enjoy!


- When you walk into a restaurant and ask 'is there food?' (Brenda Mawenu)

- When "E" on the fuel gauge means Enough (Alex Porter)

- When "being lost" to someone actually means they haven't seen you for a few days (Jamie Mills McKenzie)

- When the taxi driver indicates that he is turning left when is actually turning right because only one indicator works but he needs to let you know that he will be turning in some direction at some point.... (Joyce Byaru)

- You get arrested and start bargaining over the bribe whilst you drive yourself to jail. (Jason McKelvie)

- Clothes becomes a two-syllable word. Clo - thes. (Ruth Townley)

- When the sight of a boda-boda with a passenger carrying yet another boda-boda [effectively a boda-boda breakdown service] does not cause you to raise an eyebrow. (Kaz Kasozi)
(Boda boda is a motorbike taxi)

- When you stand in a queue and feel something is very wrong because it is orderly and the person behind you respects your personal space. (Nick Astles)

- When you have named the potholes. (Nanna Schneidermann)

- Its 32 degrees C outside and you can still see one or two people fully dressed Sweater and all. (Kaliika Annat)

- When you point with your lips and say yes with your eyebrows. (Marcia Baugh)

- When are reluctant to let go of a new, CLEAN 1000 shilling note. (Daisy Asiimwe)

- When your home does not have an address. (Alice Kimbowa)

- When you still have to look left,right and left again before crossing a one way street. (Francis Musinguzi)

- When you consider going to Garden City a "trip to the Mall", made even more special if the escalator is switched on (Stuart Cook)

- When you give inanimate objects the capability to act and feel, e.g. "this soda is defeating me" or "This computer is refusing to work" (Marianne Bach Mosebo)

- When you say "let me come" and you go in the opposite direction! (Maureen B Ndahura)

- When instead of asking to be passed something you say stuff like "Please assist me with the salt" (Bill Reynell)

- When the taxi conductor speaks of Obama like a long lost friend! (Jimmy Delyon)

- When you finally take it as a compliment and smile sincerely when someone comments on how fat you have grown (Karin Bridger)

- When you express surprise by saying "Eh!" (Rebecca Swan)

- When you call a cab a 'special hire' (Charles Mugyenzi)

- When a road that has not been opened for public use [Northern bypass] develops potholes (Benjamin Muganzi)

- When you ask where the bathroom is, and the response is, "short call or long call"? (Karen Cassidy)

- When it is o.k. for another guy to impulsively call you, 'My dear' (John Kamau Matalanga)

- When you have nicely chiseled and perfect square potholes (Suna Kironde)

- When traffic lights are always off and the traffic police guys have to battle it out with whistles (Patricia Nandyose)

- When you have lost count of the number of districts in the country (Benjamin Maguanzi)

- When "the speed bumps" develop a pothole (Moses Katafiire)

- When a Polite Notice of 'No Peeing Here' carries a fine of 100,000shs (Suna Kironde)

- When tear gas is part of the weather forecast (Patricia Nandyose)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Toilet trouble

The other night Simon and I had just gone to bed when there was a loud noise coming from the bathroom. At first, we thought it was something that had just fallen off the shelf. I jumped out of bed only to find that it wasn't anything falling off the shelf but that the toilet cistern had cracked and there was water pouring out of it. I ran to the kitchen to get a bucket to catch the water as well as shout to Simon to tell him what happened. By the time i got back with the bucket there was no Simon. I managed to catch some of the water in the bucket while trying to explain to Simon what happened. I don't think he believed me or heard me at first. Anyway we managed to rig something up for the night so that no water would come out. Simon was able to purchase a new cistern and fit it in as best he could. You can't always find the exact size so it needed a bit of creativity to make it work. You can see the mess Simon is in the photos. :) It wasn't two days and the toilet handle broke off. We seem to go through a lot of handles. Just another day in you know where :)

Monday, 1 February 2010

The wonder of His creation...

Over the Christmas holidays we took Granny and J and Z down to the Speke resort where they can do some horseriding. This is becoming a bit of a tradition when Granny comes to visit. We had a lot of rain over Christmas and so the flowers were just spectacular and so i thought I would share some with you...just so you know we could do with some of that rain now. Today it was 90 degrees in the hot hot!

Just another day in Uganda....

We sadly said goodbye to my Mum on Saturday night as she returned to Scotland. We had a good visit with her and enjoyed our time together.

I am going to share with you a day with you that Mum and I had together. It started out as a normal day whatever that is in Uganda. :) We had a couple of things to do in town but unfortunately our car was out of commission as two of the wheels nuts on one tyre had sheared off. Don't ask me how that happens. Anyway due to the condition of the roads here I didn't want to chance it and have my tyre come off so we hired a MAF car for the things we were to do. It is a saloon car so already you need to drive a bit differently. With our 91 Landcruiser people move out of the way but in a wee toyota corolla people think they can plow through you and have every right to cut you off every which way. As we were driving down Makindye hill I was aware that something had bumped us. I looked in the rear mirror to see a cyclist jump off the ground out of the way of an oncoming matatu (taxi bus). I stopped the car and went to look at the rear of the car to find that he had broken the light of the car and put a good dent in the back. I wasn't sure where the guy was but passersby told me just to go as it wasn't my fault (if someone hits you from the rear it is always their fault). Being a mzungu (white foreigner) can be a bit tricky in situations like this. Anyway I followed the road back a bit to find a small crowd round a man with a rather twisted bike. "The crowd" told me he was okay and I should go. He looked fine apart from having a sore leg. Well I took "the crowds" advice and went on my way. After a bit of thought it was kind of embrassing to think that I had been hit from behind by a cyclist. I guess I wasn't going that fast :)

The saga continues...Mum and I had to stop at a shop and pick up some mosquite curtains that I had had made for Zara's room. You would think that all you would have to do is go in and pay for them and come out but no not here. Everyone has to sign a piece of paper and the man that needs to sign the next piece of paper is not always at hand so the whole drama can last a bit of time. When I finally got to the last desk the man behind it said I need to see your passport. I just about laughed. I have never been asked before to show my passport in order to buy curtains (just another day in Uganda :-). Well as you can probably guess I didn't have my passport on me but thankfully had my Uganda drivers licence so i was able to finalise the purchase. What a marathon!

After these two dramas I still had the British High Commission to go to and wondered if it was a a wise option. However, always up for a challenge, well mostly, we headed onto the British High Commission. After we managed to arrange for them to write a letter for me we exited. Mum made the comment that it was like going into a jail with all the security, doors etc. Thankfully we didn't have to stay :). We finally made it back to Makindye without incident and and dropped off the car at the MAF office.

The story is not over yet...In Uganda it is always advantageous to go and write a police report at the police station when you have been through an incident whether it be your fault or not just so the other party doesn't cause problems for you. I decided to do this. I got on a Matatu and headed to the police station. Police stations are not always the nicest places to go to as they are not always above board in their dealings and like a bit of "tea money" in order to meet your request. After asking God to give me wisdom I entered the Police Station. There was quite a hive of activity and two Police ladies asked me what I needed. After enjoying hearing my story they passed me onto the next office. As I crossed the courtyard to the next office I had to navigate myself through a couple of hundred boda bodas (motorbike taxis) which had been confiscated off the road. I finally made it into the office where there was a "queue" of people. I asked where I should sit and then everyone laughed. Mmmmm better just to laugh along with everyone else. I opted to continue the banter by asking the policeman about all the bodas stacked outside. He asked me if I wanted to buy one but I am not sure who would have got the best deal :) I was glad that I got the young police lady in the room as she didn't look so intimidating as the rather full lady at the back with the sullen face. Well just my luck they transferred me to her and told me to sit. This was a problem as there was no space so I said where and she said next to the lady behind me (in Africa there seems to be the philosopy that there is always room for one more). I weasled myself into the space and hoped that the guy at the other end of the rickety bench didn't fall off. Anyway I went through the happenings of the morning in which she made very little comment but her pencil kept moving so at least she was writing something down. They asked me where I was from and I told them Scotland. At this point the countenance of the Police lady changed as she recounted how her favourite football team (English league) had a player from Scotland in it. After that we were best buddies and her parting comment to me was that I was very smart. I think she only said that because I had greeted her in Luganda.. They like that! Well I made it through the gauntlet of the Police post thanking the Lord as I went.
Now to find a matatu to take me home. I had considered walking but already the heat and dust were at a level that taking a matatu seemed like a better option. I was beckoned from the other side of the road to drive in a specific matatu and was ushered to the front seat next to another man of African descent who I later found out was Ethiopian. The journey should have taken me no longer than 5-10 minutes but, of course, we had to stop at the petrol station because they had a problem with one of the tyres of the matatu. Anyway after a short time that was fixed and we were off again. The man next to me began chatting and eventually got onto the Bible. He told me that he was Rastafarian and believed that King Celeste of Ethiopia was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He told me to go and read certain portions of the Bible and I would see it too. I told him I believed that Ethiopia was mentioned in the Bible but Kind Celeste was a bit of a stretch and told him that is might be worth reading the whole Bible and not just picking pieces out of it and merging them together. We parted amiably each encouraging the other one to read the Bible (not a bad thing :)and me telling him that God only had one son and that is name was Jesus and that he hadn't been reincarnated. An interesting conversation. By the time I got home I was ready for a wee cup of tea and a seat on the verandah. Just another day in Uganda......