Jay Says: Firstly Happy 2008. We hope you had a good Christmas and New Year. Ours was certainly different from the norm but fun all the same.
In the build up to Christmas we knew a fair few packages and Christmas cards were on their way, however by 20th we still hadn’t received any, so we were getting a bit worried. Thankfully a BIG batch of letters and packages arrived on the 21st, just in time! We were very restrained and held back on opening the packages, although we did open one, containing Christmas Decorations (thanks Nige). Having those up and a pile of presents under the bed finally made it feel Christmasy! And so, true to herself, Charlotte woke up at 7am on Christmas day, very excited to open her presents. We must say a big thanks to everyone who sent things. I know we’ve only had about half of the packages yet, so if we haven’t sent thanks it might be coz its yet to arrive but thanks to one and all. Our chocoholic nature clearly got through to you all, as you can see from the photos. I don’t think we’ve ever had so much chocolate in our lives! Brilliant!
Anyway the rest of Christmas day was really all about the kids. This was obviously the first Christmas any of them had been treated or received gifts. Thanks to Mona’s mum, who had visited a few weeks earlier, all the kids had presents, which when received caused huge amounts of excited – we couldn’t stop some of them dancing around all morning. It was really great! We’d also gone out and got everyone soda (coke, fanta etc) and Sseguya and I had spent a good 3 hours walking around a few days earlier trying to find the last remaining chickens in the area that we could buy and kill for Christmas! Thankfully we got 3 so we all had a great feast before heading off to watch the football team associated to the project whoop the ass of a big team that had come all the way from Kampala. We had also been sent a few DVDs in the post so the kids watched Back to the Future in amazement(!!) whilst in the evening Charlotte and I treated ourselves to our first bottle of wine in 5 months whilst watching ‘Shaun of the Dead’ – pure bliss!
As we ‘worked’ over Christmas we got New Year off. Charlotte and I and Mona met up with another volunteer, Hendrick, and headed off to Jinja. On route we of course stopped at our usual haunt of Backpackers in Kampala, where the staff and other regulars now know us all a little too well! We also discovered the delights of schardenfreude, visiting the Casino to take advantage of the free drinks and food they ply you with in an attempt to get you to gamble. I managed to spend a whole £5 whilst receiving large amounts of Baileys, White Russians, Beers and a chicken sandwich in return!
Anyway we then headed up to a camp site overlooking the beautiful Bugajali Falls – the start of the rapids on the Nile. The camp site is the centre of all adrenaline activities in Uganda, where all the rafters and Kayakers come from around the world, as well as lots of young cool things like us(!). We had been informed New Years there was the “Biggest Party in East Africa”. This was clearly a lie, but it definitely kicked off and was very raucous and very fun. Some people had a little too much fun, but that’s all I’ll say to save embarrassment for certain people (*cough* charlotte *cough*)!
We stayed there for a few days to chill out (or perhaps recover is a better word) and swim in the Nile. That’s when the whole Kenyan crisis really got big. There were a couple of big tourist trucks there, whose next stop was meant to be Nairobi. Needless to say there were lots of worried people but they managed to find alternative routes. We heard some bad stories though from a guy who showed up, having fled from Elderat, the centre of the troubles.
The crisis thankfully hasn’t affected us too much as yet. Our biggest problem however is that all of Uganda’s fuel and many of its other imports come through Kenya. Therefore there is a fuel crisis here at the moment, with transport prices doubling. Hopefully this is easing as more and more tankers start getting through but we’ll have to keep close tabs on it as we were planning on getting a bus through Nairobi to get to Dar Es Salam in two months time.
Anyway after that, we headed back to Kampala to spend a couple of days with Angie (she’ll love the personal mention I’m sure) – a Ugandan colleague and good friend of Char from Hampshire County Council. Angela is back in Uganda for Christmas so we met up and visited some nice places on the petrol she had finally managed to locate and buy at over £2.30/litre! We visited the main CHOGM hotel to see what the presidents were treated to back in November. It’s a pretty special place with a huge horse stables, Olympic swimming pool and a very plush grounds and interior. One of the only advantages of being white in Uganda is that you can walk around anywhere without getting questioned- needless to say, we had a good old snoop around!
Anyway from that completely different world we’re now back in the ‘reality’ of the village. Shockingly we now only have 3 weeks left at the orphanage before our project ends and our two months of travels begin! The time has gone so quickly, but yet so slowly all the same! We are, however, very much looking forward to our travels. First stop an uplifting, pure fun filled frolic in the genocide memorials of Rwanda J.
But we are actually coming home, as when we were in Kampala we booked our flights home! We managed to change the flights for free as, according to our charity flight tickets, we are ‘missionaries’!! Anyway we leave Uganda on 29th March, staying over in Dubai for a couple of nights en route and landing back down in blightey on 31st March.
So, see you all in April folks!
Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. Bye for now.