Monday, 25 May 2009

Boda Boda's!!!! Grrrr

Well, its a long time since I wrote on the blog, I always seem to wait for a proper story or Anna beats me to it. Anna was only saying yesterday that I had not written on the blog for ages, so something had to happen didn't it?

We have had quite a good week actually, Unni the Neonatologist is leaving very soon so we had a party in his honour on Thursday night. It was very nice and even though I had offered to organise he insisted on cooking, Danny went and got the beer for us as Sofies back wheel on her bike had gone funny and thus all I was left to do was make Pitta breads and supervise... Cant complain really.

We also went to the leaving party for Anna's Cuban and Indian colleagues which was very nice, especially as the University provided food and drink.

My news of course is different (for the purpose of VSO readers, as usual this story of course is completely made up and didn't happen, honest). Yesterday we decided that it was a nice day therefore we fancied a swim at Lake View (the local posh hotel), Shivaun one of the other VSO's who has just moved to Mbarara was coming and we were meeting Sofie as well. All was well and we decided to gets Bodas, I flagged a few down and let Anna and Shivaun choose their bikes.

I jumped on my bike, and thought maybe the driver was a bit young, this of course was proven when he wobbled over the first speed hump. At that point I should of course have told him to stop but didnt, we then went over the next speed hump and I saw him getting closer and closer to this mountain bike to the left. I do not know whether the Boda driver was drunk or just dumb but he did not react and carried on ploughing into the back wheel of the mountain bike, taking of course the mountain bike and of course the boda with me on it over.

It was not bad, as the bike rider jumped off, however I now have grazes on my arm and leg. I said a few choice words to the Boda driver who was at this time being shouted at by a crowd. To be honest I dont know what happened to him after that as I realised I was bleeding and therefore we decided to go back to the house and sort out the cuts. So much for our trip to Lake View. Thankfully it was not the bad even though Anna put pure Alchohol and Iodine on my cuts and I now have some random Gauze and plaster on my arm and leg.

We did manage to get to Lake View in the end too, although of course I could not swim :-( maybe next time.

I suppose I have now learnt a lesson that if you get a Boda make sure they can actually ballence a bike properly...

Anyway.... Thats all for now will write more when there is other news, hopefully not another Boda incident.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Warthog, Zebra, and Ankole Cow

Posted by Picasa

Fish Eagles, Crocodile, Hippos and Monkey

Posted by Picasa

Water-buck, Monkey and Baboons

Posted by Picasa

Our trip to Mburo, Water-buck and Impala

Posted by Picasa

Lake Mburo National Park

Well, we have finally visited a National Park after three months in Uganda!

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the smaller game parks, and is about an hour's drive or so from Mbarara. We left Mbarara at 6:30 am, and arrived at the park just after dawn, as that is one of the best times of the day to see the animals (before it gets too hot later on). I thought we'd be driving around for ages before we saw any animals, but literally as soon as we had gone through the gate we saw a herd of zebra. There are only 2 National Parks in Uganda where you can see zebra - Lake Mburo and Kidepo - but Kidepo is in the very North-east of the country and it's really difficult to get there (partly due to bandits who [apparently] shoot at buses).

After we'd seen the zebras, we saw some water bucks and some impala, as well as loads of warthogs. We drove around for a while, then stopped at the lakeside restaurant for breakfast. We decided to have a 'Rolex', which is basically a chapatti with an omelette on top, all rolled up - very tasty indeed!

We then set off on our guided boat trip around the lake. Our guide, Andrew, was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife on the lake. We saw what seemed like hundreds of hippos - although I was slightly disappointed that I couldn't get any pictures of a hippo yawning! There are loads of beautiful birds flying around the lake - kingfishers (pied and malachite), fish eagles, herons and so many more. Apparently fish eagles can see a fish in the water from 1000 metres away, they must have telescopic vision or something.

We went over to the swampy part of the lake in the boat, and saw a HUGE crocodile, as well as quite a few baby ones. The scary thing was that the motor on our boat got tangled in fishing nets, so poor Andrew had to get out the boat and untangle the motor, while being watched by the big crocodile! Luckily we survived to tell the tale...

We saw a big group of baboons sitting in a tree by the lakeside, they were so cute.

After the boat-trip we dove back to Mbarara. We had a wonderful day at Lake Mburo, and were very impressed with the variety of different animals we saw in what is a relatively small national park. The only animals we missed out on seeing were the lions (but there is only one pride in the park) and leopards (which are notoriously shy), but I'm sure that at some point in the next year we will manage to see them too.

I had a bit of a problem putting our pictures of Lake Mburo on this blog - they take ages to download as the connection is really slow. I will persevere and try to add a few at a time.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Back to Kampala for more In-Country Training

We spent all last week in Kampala (the capital city) as we had more in-country training.

We travelled there on a Saturday and spent the afternoon hunting around the shops for essentials we can’t get in Mbarara – like shampoo, pesto sauce, and corkscrews that don’t break when you try to open a bottle of wine with them! It was pretty strange to be in such a big city after being in Mbarara for 9 weeks – everything seemed so hectic, noisy and busy. We stayed at the ‘Backpackers Hotel’ on Saturday night, which was lovely although we felt quite old there, as it was full of 18 year olds on their Gap Years. On Sunday we met up with some of the VSOs who live in Kampala before heading over to the Lweza Conference Centre for our Training.

It was great to see all the other volunteers again, and to compare notes on our placements. During the course of the week we had training sessions on Corruption, History, and Culture, as well as more information about the areas of development that VSO’s in Uganda are working in (disability, health and participation & governance). We also had the opportunity to speak to our program managers about our individual placements and come up with work plans. All in all, the week’s training was useful and informative, and really made me appreciate the fact that VSO is there to support us throughout our placements.

On Friday morning we got a taxi to take us to the bus park in Kampala, so we could get our bus to Mbarara. The only problem was that the taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong bus park, so we had to walk through town in the pouring rain and muddy streets for ages to find the right place – I was particularly annoyed about this as I was wearing open-toed sandals (not my most fantastic idea ever). By the time we got on the bus, my feet and legs were covered in mud and I was not in a very good mood (to put it mildly). Add to this the fact that the bus windows leaked in the rain, which made my seat wet, and it is not surprising that I had a bit of a strop (or a humph, as my family and Jason would call it). However, by the time we got back to Mbarara four-and-a-half hours later, I had managed to calm down a bit!

It was really good to get back to Mbarara, and it felt nice that we feel ‘at home’ here now. We may not have all the luxuries that we have back at home in Liverpool, but this is our home for the next year or so, and we really like it.