Nov 052012

Despite the difficulties of everyday life here, Ugandans are good humoured, friendly and generous with their time. We were lucky to meet William through our Rwandan contacts, a young social activist. He gave us help and advice, took us out to see a slum project he is involved with and talked to us about the renewable energy company he is starting. He made a real difference to our Kampala days. In Fort Portal, a Western town famous for its crater lakes and views of the huge Rwenzori mountain, another young man,Paul, took us under his wing. He is the proprietor of the guest house we were staying at. Knowing we were keen to walk out of the town into the hills, he gave up a day to take us on paths we would never have found,through villages and farms, up to a volcanic crater full of trees and then around a crater lake. It was beautiful and peaceful.

On the way up, we had to cross a stream that had flooded the path because of the terrific storm the night before. We waded over, shoes and socks in hand. Paul actually offered to carry us, but we showed we were not that pathetic! As we came back by a different route, we discovered that the main river had flooded over the road, so that there was a wide swathe of water, in places looking quite deep. Crowds were there to look, discuss the possibilities, wait for those coming in the other direction, or prepare to wade. We proceeded calmly to remove our footwear, roll up our trousers and led by Paul, we began the crossing. It caused amusement, consternation and wonder in equal measures that the muzungus could get wet and show their white legs. All the way we were accompanied by laughter and worried helpers, including a little boy who adopted me as his personal charge and took the opportunity to practise his excellent English. He was ragged and grubby so who knows what his life chances are.

So we have enjoyed Uganda after an uncertain start. And we have been chased by an elephant too. But we were in a jeep and the driver put his foot down . The elephant gave up the chase and we all thought it was thrilling. The driver, the African, thought it was frightening because he, unlike us, understood the dangers.


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