Thursday, 26 November 2009

Weddings, Caves, Bonfire Night and a Film Premiere

It's been such a long time since we have written a blog, so I thought I should update you on what we've been getting up to.

The university semester has nearly ended - the only thing remaining are the exams which start next week. In just over 2 weeks my parents are coming to visit for a couple of weeks, and we have 2 friends arriving on the day they fly back to we have an action-packed month of travelling to look forward to. We have got permits to go Chimp tracking on Boxing Day, which we are really excited about.

Last month we went to a town called Fort Portal for a wedding. It was Jason's colleague's sister's wedding, and it was the first wedding that we'd been to in Uganda. Lots of Jason's colleagues were also going to the wedding, so we hired the university bus for the trip rather than getting public transport. The drive there was lovely - the road went right through the middle of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and we even saw an elephant, which made my day. Fort Portal is in the mountains, and the scenery was breathtaking.

The wedding began with a church service, followed by a reception at one of the local hotels. The service was lovely, and pretty similar to a wedding in the UK, although the priest did a 45 minute long sermon all in Rutoro (the local language). The bride looked beautiful, as did all her bridesmaids (she had about 8 of them!).

The Church

When we arrived at the reception venue, the heavens opened and it started raining like I've never seen it rain before - we had to shelter in our vehicle for about an hour, waiting for it to die down. We eventually braved the rain, and went into the hotel grounds. There were marquees for us to sit under, but they had no flooring, just squelchy mud - not good for open-toed sandals! The poor bride and groom had to wait in their car, hoping the rain would stop, but they eventually arrived. They had to enter the reception venue through an arch, but they first had to cut a ribbon.

Cutting the Ribbon to get into the Reception

There must have been about 400 people there, and I wondered how they were going to cater for everyone, but they had a Ugandan buffet which went down very well with all of the guests. There was also entertainment in the form of a dance group, a singer and a man dressed up as a Zulu warrior - all very good indeed.

The Entertainment

We didn't stay at the reception as long has we had planned to, because we were cold and wet, and needed to warm up a bit in front of the log fire at our hotel (who would ever have thought you needed fires in Africa?!)


The day after the wedding, we went out into the countryside to see some the Amabere caves and waterfalls. We had to walk through the jungle to get to the caves, and as it had been raining it was very muddy (Jason fell over 3 times!), but it was worth it. The caves have some stalactites and stalagmites in them which are supposed to resemble breasts (!), and the drips from them are apparently meant to represent breastmilk (according to local folklore). There was also an amazing waterfall by the caves.

Jason in the Caves

Behind the Waterfall

Jason and his Colleague, Amos

Group Photo

Our bus-trip back to Mbarara included the usual event of breaking down - luckily it happened when we were in a town, so we wandered off to get lunch while someone made hasty repairs to the brakes on the bus (we found out later that one of the brake pads had completely worn down, and the mechanic didn't have a replacement, so he just disabled the brake!). We made it home in one piece though....

The following weekend, we had a VSO cluster meeting at Shivaun's house - we decided to combine it with a barbecue and 'fireworks' to celebrate Guy Fawkes night. Jason was put in charge of the barbecue, and cooked goat and pork kebabs and some burgers courtesy of Chef Shivaun. We even had marshmallows to toast over the fire later on. We didn't really have proper fireworks; just some giant party popper things, and some big sparklers that are supposed to go on top of wedding cakes, but they are pretty spectacular. It was a really nice evening and good to catch up with the other VSOs to discuss our placements etc.


We went to our first ever Film Premiere a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of the Kina-MUST project at the university. One of my students had sold me tickets, but Jason was pretty reluctant to go, as the dress code was 'red carpet' (i.e. formal). A group of students had made a movie about HIV/AIDS, and it was actually really impressive. It was about a medical student who got a needle-stick injury on the hospital ward, and how he dealt with the possibility that he might have contracted HIV. It was acually better than some low-budget films we've seen in the UK.
There was even an after-show party, where we got to mingle with the stars of the film. Both Jason and I had students involved with the film, and it was nice to see them enjoying themselves away from their studies. It was pretty funny though, because our students kept coming up to us wanting their photo taken with us - I wouldn't have been seen dead with my lecturers at uni! I don't know if there is any way that they can release the film to a wider audience, but I really think it deserves to go further than just Mbarara.

On the Red Carpet