Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tell the world that I'm coming home....

After Helen and Sarah left on Sunday we all needed a bit of a distraction so we went to the craft market for a bit. Not all of the stalls were open because it was a Sunday but quite a lot of them were, though a lot of the smallholders seemed to be taking the piss a little bit with their prices, and not willing to come down at all. We bought some stuff, after some hard negotiating, and then we went to open house, an Indian restaurant for lunch. When we arrived it was deserted and we weren't sure if it was open because all the staff were in the bar watching the tv. It transpired that it was open, so we went in and got a table. Once we were inside we realised why they were all watching the tv, the Olympic marathon was on and a Ugandan was winning! Most of you will know by now if you follow the Olympics that the marathon was won by a Ugandan man and it was the first gold medal for the country for something like 45 years! When he crossed the finish line everyone was clapping and cheering, all a bit surreal but all good fun!

In the evening we were planning to go to mish mash to watch the closing ceremony but in the end we decided we were too tired, and just stayed at the hostel. The next morning we just hung out at backpackers because Astra was leaving, until she decided that she wanted a last dash into town so that she could go on a boda boda again! We left with about an hour an a half to spare before her taxi to the airport was due to arrive, mad dash into town where Astra bought herself some more stuff from the craft market, (prices were much lower on a weekday, as there were far more customers) and then a mad dash back. The text wasn't due til 2, but when we got back at 1.20 it was there already and has been waiting since 1! This was a bit annoying because she really wanted to stay as long as possible, but she ended up leaving at about 1.45. 

After Astra left we had to go back into town to meet Sam, who was coming in from Ntungamo on the bus. We shopped for a bit (got some great new headphones!) and then he called to say he was at the post office, so we went there to meet him. We couldn't find him when we got there, so after much ringing and effort we eventually got through to him and it turned out he hadn't come on the post but, but another bus, and didn't know where he was. We told him to get a  taxi to backpackers, dump his stuff, and then meet us at the craft market on Buganda road. About half an hour later we get a phone all saying he is in the craft market, so we make our way there. He is nowhere to be seen. We call him again and tell him to meet us outside the gate. Still no sign. We call him again and it transpires that he's in another craft market on the other side of town! We did catch up with him eventually.

That night we decided to go out, as Sam had to leave for the airport at 5am, so we thought it would be a good idea to just stay up! We started out in bubbles (after dinner at a nice chinese) which was completely dead, but we had a few drinks there anyway. Then I had a tip off that a club in town called hi-table was good on Mondays, so we made our way there. It was a bit of a dive but not too bad, we were pretty much the only mzungus in the place! We got some shisha and sat in the VIP area (a cool 5,000 shillings- £1.25 - each.)smoking it and just hanging out really. At about one in the morning we decided it was finally time to get up and dance for a bit. It was fun, though I thought the men were quite grabby, even by Ugandan standards. At about 3.30 we decided to call it a night and go back to the hostel, sot hat Sam could get his stuff together and then go to the airport. We got bodas back and when we arrived at the hostel I opened my bag to pay the driver and.... Yep, my purse was gone, I had a bit of a drunken panic, decided there was nothing I could do at that precise moment, texted my dad and paul, and fell asleep. I slept really badly, and by seven I was dressed and sitting in the bar of the hostel, talking to the staff there about what had happened. I noticed in the morning when I had a more thorough check that my camera was also gone, which is pretty gutting. 

My purse had contained the key to my safe at the hostel, cash, my diving licence and my debit card. I obviously didn't expect to get the cash back but the staf at backpackers said that I might well get the wallet and cards back, as stolen wallets often just have the cash removed and then get thrown on the floor. I and to go to the police station to get a crime reference number for my insurance, I was warned that I might have to grease the palms of the policemen on the desk, but it was fine which was a good job because I was shit scared of having to try and do it! We then went to hi table to ask if it had been found on the floor. Predictably, it hadn't. When we arrived back at the hostel the manager told me that it had been found, a man had rung up but was too scared to bring it in because it was empty of all my cash. I told her it was fine, tell him to bring it. She called him and told him to come, and then told me that I would have to pay for him to bring it. I asked where he was coming from, and she said town, the cost of which would only be about 5,000 shillings, which is about £1.25. When I said that, she told me that I needed to give him more than that, more like 10,000. I was a bit sceptical but I decided that £2.50 was a small price to pay for getting my driving licence and debit card back. 

I was a bit suspicious though, as my purse had contained cash in the notes bit, interspersed with various receipts. This guy said that he knew I was staying at backpackers because he found the receipt in my purse, but surely if you were going to take the money and run you wouldn't bother to separate the random bits of paper from the cash and then put them BACK in the purse? Anyway, he arrived at backpackers looking seriously shifty and barely spoke a word to me. He handed over my purse which still contained my cards, and all of the bits of random  paper, which had been neatly folded up and relocated to the coin department of my purse. Very odd. After the guy left and I discovered this the manager of the hostel told me she was certain he had taken it, and to be honest so was I. But what could I do? He's on to a bloody good scam, stealing your stuff, and then looking like a good Samaritan and getting more money to return it to you! 

After all the drama we went to the cinema in the evening at garden city which is a big mall. We saw the new dark knight film which was actually not as bad as I thought it would be; it's really not my kind of movie. Both the boys fell asleep during it, which amused me as it was them who wanted to see it in the first place. 

The next day the boys went home, so we just hung out at the hostel until it was time for them to go. After that I was a bit lost without them so I just hung about the hostel. I spotted a Ugandan guy I was sure I recognised from meeting with paul once, and I texted paul and it turned out it was the guy I was thinking of. He text me and told me to say hi to him, but he had already left! Paul could tell I was a bit miserable on my own and eliab was out with a British girl who is going to work with volunteer uganda, so he arranged for me to meet up and go out with them. We had dinner and then went to makerere university freshers week, which was hectic! After we went to bubbles for a drink, and then I went back to the hostel as I wasn't feeling all that wonderful. 

My flight has been rescheduled so I'm actually coming home tomorrow, starting my journey later today. Can't wait to get home now! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Rafting and riding

Almost immediately after my last post Sarah, Helen, Jonny and Stewart left for their bungee jump. It's a really cool setup at adrift, where the bar looks out over the bungee tower, so I could sit with my big telephoto lens and take pictures of them jumping. There was a guy who worked there too who had a really old canon lens on a newish camera, trying to take 'proffessional' shots of them, but the lens was so old it wouldn't autofocus, so they just ended up with loads of blurry shots which he expected them to pay $10 each for! 

While they were getting ready for the bungee I was on the phone to the horseback safari place and managed to get Astra and myself on a trip that afternoon, so we left basically as soon as they got back from the bungee tower. It wasn't too far away, so we took a boda. The woman who worked ATF adrift made out it was a REALLY long way and that it wouldn't be at all satisfactory to get a boda, but we did it anyway and it only took about 20mins. When we got there we were introduced to another person who would be riding with us, who was a French lady of zero riding experience, and the guides who would also be coming. She asked us about our levels of experience, and so I told her that I had a few years experience but it had been a couple of years since I'd last been on a horse. Astra detailed her experience too and thus she decided which horses we would ride. She explained that we would be riding through some farmland and the horses sometimes would decide to stop for a snack on the maize growing or something, and you had to be very insistent with them about not allowing them to do this and kicking them on. She also said that they compensate the farmers for the crops that get eaten, so not to worry if we couldn't stop them! Anyway, she introduced us to our horses, and she gave me the most difficult one as I had the most experience of the three of us! I was a bit unsure about that as its been so long, but it worked out fine. We got going, walking along the Nile and then looping back through the villages and back to the farm. 

We were out for two hours and when you haven't ridden in so long, you get saddle sore pretty quickly! I was quite relived when I saw the jumps in the paddock coming back into view. I was nervous that I wouldn't feel confident enough to ride well or anywhere near the standard that I used to, but actually I got back into it really easily, and Astra and I ended up going for a really long canter, while the poor French woman didn't really seem to be enjoying herself, she tried a trot but couldn't get into a rhythm with rising, so when the time came to try a slow canter she was quite scared but she didn't say, so we ended up going with her screaming 'stop!' at her horse, but not actually pulling on the reins or doing anything that might actually make the horse stop. Anyway, the rest of the time we were trotting or cantering she insisted on just walking. I don't really know why she chose to go for a 2 hour trek without any previous experience! 

Astra got really lucky with her pony who was raring to go, while I got lumbered with the difficult and lazy one. Next time I'll keep quiet about my experience! He really was a lot of hard work to get going, lagging behind in both trot and canter, and stopping to eat all the time! 

After horse riding we caught another boda back to adrift (which felt amazingly comfortable straight after the horse, but after about 5 minutes I was ready to get off!) to find that the others weren't there, so we had to then get another boda into Jinja town, where we had dinner.  

The next morning we were up bright and early for rafting. We went and paid for our trip and I was chatting to one of the guys about how I went last year and how I managed to pull both shoulders out of joint in the rapid called 'the bad place' and he looked a bit surprised and asked if that meant I wanted them to take us on easier rapids and I was like no way! Then about ten minutes later he came over and said that two guys had requested to do the extreme rafting and they needed four other people, so did we want to do it with them? We said yes straight away, it's meant to cost another $25 dollars for the extreme version, but we got to do it for the normal price, which was cool. The rafting was really good and we only flipped the raft 3 times, out of eight rapids that we did. I did hurt my shoulder in the bad place again but Stewart helped me put it back in place. Afterwards we immediately went back to kampala, arriving back at about 8pm, and then going out for dinner and drinks.

This morning we had breakfast in the hostel and Helen and Sarah have just left, which is so sad! 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Bunyoni and beyond...

Hey guys! Sorry I haven't posted in so long, it's been a nightmare trying to get online. I'm now around Kampala so my posts should be more frequent as most places have free wifi. 

At the weekend I went to lake bunyoni with quite a few of the other volunteers, which was fun. It was really good weather, unlike last time, so I spent a lot of time swimming, and hopefully not catching bilharzia. The food was amazing, I ate so much crayfish, Garlic and cheese, all of which are treats we don't get at the lodge. 

The past few days we have just been chilling, as it's been summer school. The summer school was quite a different set up to last year, with only the older classes coming in and having actual structured lessons and long breaks for play. I can't help thinking that this is more constructive, but I do feel a bit sorry for the kids not getting to just relax, and also sorry for the little ones who aren't allowed to come in for play in the summer, like they used to. 

On Wednesday all six of us who were leaving the lodge and a few other volunteers went out for lunch, taking oz, Alex and Boaz with us. They all work in and around the lodge and are really lovely, we have all spent a lot of time with them. The lunch was... Amusing, as usual for sky blue! We waited for our food for a long long time and it arrived in dribs and drabs, with the people who were served first finishing before the rest of us even got our food! 

Yesterday morning we got up at an ungodly hour to sort our stuff out and catch the post bus. I was kind of sad leaving the lodge but it wasn't that bad as most of the kids aren't around now and I was leaving with most of my friends that I've made here, so I didn't feel like I was leaving much behind. On our last night morass came and made rolexes, which was really nice. Last week we realised that he doesn't actually own his own cook wear, and when he comes to cook for us he has to borrow from the kitchen at the lodge, which isn't exactly overflowing with equipment either. Anyway, last week the frying pan he was using was from the kitchen and the handle was broken and kept swivelling round, which led him at one point to spill hot oil all over his feet. I went into town and tracked down a frying pan for him (it was much harder than I expected!) and presented it to him yesterday before he started cooking, and he was really happy, which was nice. 

When we arrived in Kampala yesterday, I had arranged a driver to pick us up but when we arrived he wasn't there! I called him and he said he was on his way and would be there very soon. We waited about half an hour longer and then I called him again, at which point he said he had been trying to call but couldn't get through, and was in the completely wrong place! I was very clear that we needed to be picked up from the post office, so I don't really know how that went wrong! We just jumped in a taxi, anyway, which was cosy with six mzungus and a driver!

We got to the hostel and just dumped our stuff, and then went straight back out to Mediterraneo, where I had the most amazing steak. I don't think I could have been happier at that moment! After we ate we went back to backpackers and had (hot!) showers, got ready and went out to the Irish pub for a pub quiz. We came 5th out of ten, which wasn't too bad, it was a really hard quiz! While we were there I bumped into Hannah who I met last year and hung out with quite a lot, which was really nice. We went back to the hostel at a fairly reasonable time, as we had to get up at six this morning to come to Jinja. 

We got up at about six fifteen in the end and went and waited for our bus, which was only a bit late. Most people slept on the journey but I couldn't sleep at all, it was ok once we could see the Nile as its pretty cool to look at. Now we are sitting in the bar at adrift eating breakfast and waiting for Helen, Sarah, Jonny and Stewart to bungee jump! 

Friday, 3 August 2012

'I'm not drunk, I'm just stupid!'

Yesterday was the last day of term at school, and the kids only had to attend for half the day. we went along to watch the final assembly which was cute, they were singing and stuff, and then they just had to go back to their classes to be given their reports and a big file with all of their exam papers and work in. i took my camera over and took some photos, and when they were getting all of their wrk given back to them, i went along to Baby 1 class, where i have spent quite a lot of time, to get some pictures of them with their work. baby 1 and baby 2 are right next door to eachother, and the only thing that separates the 2 rooms is a thin screen made from palm fronds. this isnt the most practical thing in a room full of 3 years olds, as the sound goes straight through it, but its what they've got. anyway, yesterday i was in baby 1 standing by the screen when i heard the baby 2 teacher shouting, but not shouting like you would normally hear in a school, like properly raging shouting. i wanted t know what was going on, but i knew that if i actually went next door i'd never find out as the teachers are all sweetness and light around us, so i pressed my face right up against the screen and looked through the little holes in the weave. i could see her sat behind her desk, with a little boy of about 4 standing in front of it, looking a bit shocked. as i was watching she stood up, and using the full force of her arm, slapped the child around the face, sending him flying accross the room.

i don't think i've ever been so angry in my life, and what happened next was probably not the best way to handle the situation, but i just think its a miracle i didnt backhand her myself. i went running out of baby 1 and burst into baby 2, slammed my hands down on the desk and shouted 'How DARE you hit a child?!'she looked pretty taken aback, and she was clearly in a panic that she had been caught, and then she said lamely 'he was throwing paper...' i just looked at her and picked up the child from the floor who was in quite a state, and walked out. i was literally shaking with anger and shock, i knew i would be angry if i saw anything like that but i really surprised myself at how strong my reaction was. i just stood outside with Collins, the little boy, for a while while he calmed down and i tried to calm myself down. i was in tears at this point, and still trying immensely hard to to go back and shout some more or do her some serious damage. thankfully the baby classrooms are attached to the headmasters office, and he was there. i approached, i must have looked such a mess, crying, shaking, bright red and fuming! he saw me coming and came over, he thought that she child in my arms must be really ill or something, i think he was a bit shocked when i started laying into him, telling him that he needed to control his teachers. he went and spoke to her in the classroom, a big group of teachers had appeared at this point and they all went in to discuss it, i felt like they were going to hatch a plan to claim it didnt happen. when he came out Kenneth (the head) said that she had admitted it, and that she had apologised so that was ok. i told him that it absolutely was NOT ok, and it was his responsibility to make sure that she knew it wasnt acceptable to to make sure that it didnt happen again. he looked at me and asked what i wanted him to do. it was then i realised that there was nothing that could really be done, aside from firing her, which they couldnt do as they had a class full of children who needed a c\teacher. i told him (which i realise now must have sounded ridiculous, i only remembered i said it this morning) 'if this happened in England, she would be sacked. she'd never teach again. in fact, she'd probably go to prison. go directly to jail do not pass go do not collect two hundred pounds!' he looked at me a bit wierd, and then asked if i expected him to fire her. i told him i didnt, but he needed to come up with something otherwise it will just happen again. he went back and spoke to her a bit more, and then came back out and said 'ok, dont tell anyone, we are going to deal with it internally.' i laughed in his face. i told him that iw as calliing anne immediately that i got back to the lodge, and telling dennis as soon as he gt back from safari. i directly told him that i didnt trust him to sort it, because it was  happening in school all the time. there have been 3 incidents f volunteers actually witnessing assaults in the past 3 weeks, and so you cant even imagine hyow many happen when we arent around.

i walked little collins home and by the time we got there he seemed to have pretty much recovered. he lived absolutely miles away, about an hour and a half walk, and in the middleof the day with no water! i thought i was goig to die before we got there!

in the evening last night me, sarah and helen organised a quiz, which went down well, and is the source of the wonderful quote that titles this post! astra declared this towards the beginning of the quiz, and her team didnt stop laughing the whole time, it was no surprise that they came last! there was a fair bit of heckling coming from the teams too, there was a question in the sports round which was 'in which sport would you carry an octopus?' the answer of course being scuba diving, but lots of people complained, saying that diving isnt a sport its an activity! the debate was still going on thismorning.

today as there was no school we walked to the top of the tallest mountain again and took a picnic. it was absolutely boiling walking up there, but when we got to the top it was cold and raining. as soon as we started walking again it got hot and sunny again! so unfair.

i dont have much else to tell you other than im going chimp tracking on tuesday! mega excited for that! and only 6 days left at the lodge so sad!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Dreaded Head Fungus...

yesterday morning we took another trip to Mbarara to buy more baking ingredients, we have got through 10kg of flour in a week! we went to the wholesalers this time about bought 25kgs of it. Astra and one of the newer volunteers, Erica, have taken over the baking for the past 2 days, which has been a nice break. when we got to Mbarara, Alan, who was driving didnt know where to park the car, so he parked it in what looked like a space near the bank, and we all arranged to meet up 2 hours later. but when we got back we found that the car had been clamped! we were all panicking a bit but then we found out that it was only 20,000 shillings, which is about five pounds, to get it unclamped. We thought that was pretty good, a fiver to park all day wherever you want and there is no chance of your car being stolen!

when we got back from Mbarara some of the girls wanted to go on a walk up the mountain, so i decided to go too, thinking that i wouldn't go to the top, i'd probably just stop when i'd had enough. the thing was, when i got to that point we weren't that far from the top, so the others managed to persuade me to carry on. when we got there we sat and took photos and rested for a bit, and then we all thought it would be a good idea to walk along and up to the next peak; so i ended up walking to the top of the tallest mountain in the local area. by the time we got to the top it was starting to get a bit gloomy so we sat a while and watched the sunset, which was really nice, but then we had to walk back down in the dark! i hurt my foot at the top and i was wearing these walking sandals that are just like flip flops with  bit more support, so i was having to bend it to grip my shoe on with every step, which was really uncomfortable, so ditched them and walked barefoot. everybody here is always laughing about how i never wear shoes, i start out wearing them and then i just get fed up with them and take them off!

as we got to the bottom of the mountain there was a big herd of cows in front of us, and some of the rest of the group got a bit nervy but i was actually ok, they do have big horns but generally they justmove out of your way if you approach or if you clap. so i was walking along clapping to get them to move but then the ones we had walked past started following us and picking up speed, there were 2 boys with them looking after them and they were herding them towards us! we started walking quicker and one of the girls held my hand and started dragging me along because they were freaking her out, the next thing i knew we were all screaming and sprinting away because they had started to charge us! it was hilarious afterwards, i couldnt breathe for ages because i ws laughing so hard, but i will admit i was absolutely bricking it at the time!

its not been a great few days for illness though! there has been an outbreak of Ebola virus in north west uganda (im in the south west) so lots of people have been concerned about that as there have also been 2 cases in Kampala and we have to go there in just over a week! we have been warned to to go to the hospital, if we're sick we have to call out a private doctor to the lodge, and i dont know what we are supposed to do if the kids are ill. there has also been a big increase in the number of cases of nodding disease quite ner to us which is sad and worrying, though none of us are really at risk as it seems to only affect 5-15 year olds, it worrying in case the kids get it. Loads of the children have this fungal infection on their scalps, which im sure is just ringworm, because i caught it last year but not on my head, on my arm and it looked exactly like it.  the other day i had this wierd patch on my nose that i thought was sunburn on top of sunburn turning innto a little blistery patch, but it grew over a few days and i realsied i must have caught it again! i came prepared with the treatment and its only been 2 days since i started using it but its gone down so i think it must have been, and then yesterday i realised i had a patch on my chin too! its really obvious to me why ive got in in those places, when im sat with a kid on my lap i always rest my chin on the top of their head of if they are taller i would kind of lean against them with my nose touching their head or face, its so annoying because i know its completely my fault that ive got it!  anyway, it looks like ive noticed it pretty early so hopefully it will go down quickly.

ive had to deal with quite a few more cuts and scrapes too the last few days, which i dont mind doing but my first aid kit is looking distinctly empty! someone pointed out to me today that when im gone there will be virtually no first aid supplies at the lodge so i went to the pharmacy today and put together a bit of a kit with a big bottle of saline, some plasters, iodine, and bandages, and when i leave i'll also leave behind some lint stuff they can use for dressings and micropore tape. there is a 'first aid kit' at school which used to contain gloves and bandages and stuff but now it just contains a giant bottle of 1,000 paracetamol, which they give to the kids freely. i think im going to mark up all the stuff saying what its for and leave it at the lodge rather than t school because stuff just goes missing when you leave it there.

i cant believe how close im getting to leaving the lodge, im  not ready to go yet at all. last year by the time it got to a week before i was really ready to come home, but this year i just want to stay!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Bake and Bitch

hey guys!

theres been so much drama at the lodge this week! i dnt really want to write about specific things but lets just say there have been lots of hook ups, bitching and bed hopping!

towards the beginning of the week my new roommate, Astra was getting a lift into town on the back of a truck, but when she was climbing down she fell and hurt her arm quite badly. when she got back to the lodge we made a sling for it, and we were going to just leave it like that but when dennis saw it he made her go to hospital. she wasnt a big fan of that and when she got there moses apparently started jerking her arm around which was really painful for her, to the point of making her cry, but he still didnt stop. he declined to x-rayit, saying that he would do it the following day if she was still in pain, and sending her off with strong anti-inflammatory painkillers, valium, some other random steroid thing and menthol balm of all things! that night dennis brought dr moses to the lodge to look at her again as he was still worried, but she didnt want to be examined by him again which i think was reasonable, and moses was completely wasted anyway! the only good thing that came out fo that was that i made him tell me what all the drugs were as they werent labelled properly and astra didnt want to take them without knowing what they were.

the next day she kept saying it was ok and she didnt need to go for an x-ray mainly becuase she didnt want to be examined again, but the day after that we managed to persuade her to go back as she was still in a lot of pain. we went to the hospital around lunchtime and the place was basically deserted. we couldnt find moses and nobody wanted to help us, so we went straight to xray but there was nobody there. we eventually went back to the front desk where the lady was completely unhelpful and told us to go to town for a private x-ray. we were expecting that to be really expensive but her insurance would cover it, so off we went and got a private one, which was a much more pleasant place and only cost 20,000 shillings, which is about 5 pounds! fortunately the xray showed that it wasnt broken and its now getting better.

Alan, another of the volunteers who came with his 16 year old foster son, brought with him a solar oven that he had designed himself. he built it when he got here but unfortunately it didnt get very hot, so he took the oven part of it out, which is essentially just a big steel box, and built bricks around it with a space for a fire underneath to make a proper oven, so every day this week i have been making bread and cakes fresh for us to have for breakfast and afternoon tea, which has been going down a storm, but i wont pretend its not labour intensive. a few days ago i taught the staff how to make 'mzungu bread' and 'mzungu cake' which they were pleased with. denis says that making it with them once isnt enough though, i have to set a test! i think im just going to give them the ingredients and watch them to check they really know what to do.

on thursday a group of us went to Mbarara to buy ingredients for baking and other things that you cant get in Ntungamo, we even found heinz baked beans and maple syrup! ive made amrican pancakes for breakfast a few mornings too!

i dont have much else to tell you really, im getting so comfortable being here it doesnt feel that exceptional anymore, it just feels like normal life. i dont know how im going to cope when i go back to the UK! i cant believe ive only got a week and a half left at the lodge as well, i still feel like ive only just got here despite being the longest running volunteer by about 3 weeks now. ive been planning my time in kampala and jinja really well too, im going rafting again, doing horseriding and maybe quad biking, and doing some work in an orphanage in the city. exciting times!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Making the Mute Speak...

yesterday i came into town and used the internet but didnt post as i hadnt really done anything, other than go for lunch in town. we went back to a little place i discovered a few days ago, but they didnt have enough fod for 4 of us, so we went to another one next door, where we had a rather bizarre exchange with the woman behind the bar.

when we went in there were several groups sitting at the tables munching away, so we went to the bar and asked the woman for a menu. she looked back at us and said 'we dont have.' in quite a lot of these places they dont have a written menu, you just ask for what they have on the day, so i was like 'ok, do you have food? chakula?'  she looked a bit surprised and said yes, so i was like 'ok, what do you have?' she just looked back at me and said 'we dont have.' at which point we left! i dont know if she understood me really or if she just didnt want a load of Mzungus eating in her restaurant, but we werent going to get fed there! we ended up at sky blue.

this week the kids have got final exams, which is a bit rubbish volunteering wise as there isnt a lot we can do, but we can go in at breaks and after the exam has finished, even if there is like an hour til lunch the teachers dont do anything with them, just let them basically run riot, so we can go in and organise stuff to do then.

ive been working on my runyankole too, i can now count to 19 (can't for the life of me keep the word for 20 in my head), ask if you are ill, where you are going, and what you want, tell people to smile for photos, ask for things, say please and thankyou, name some animals and body parts, ask your name and age, and say that a mosquito has bitten me! the kids love it when you speak to them in their language, and today at break some of the older girls were teaching me some more things, asking me how many sisters, brothers and babies i have! I also learned how to say 'I will beat you', which started out as a bit of a joke around the lodge, we all learned how to say it and were constantly threatening eachother with it, but its actually really useful because you hear the teachers say it all the time, and then you know that they are breaking the rules by threatening the kids, and so you can keep a closer watch on them.

today at break Shila came and found me and climbed onto my back, she has special needs (though i have no idea of the specifics of the situation) and she doesnt speak. she does make some effort to make the sounds though and she's not deaf or stupid; if you tell her to write her name on a piece of paper she can and she's only in baby class, so its more than most of them can do. anyway, she's really cuddly and always wants to be picked up, despite being bigger than the other babies. once you pick her up she will tap you on the shoulder and then point to things she wants you to look at or where she wants to go, and the other day i was holding her and break finished and she was indicating that she wanted me to go to her class, as she kept pointing at it. i was like 'where? where do you want me to go?' she was just pointing and saying 'dey' which is a favourite of all the kids to point things out to you anyway, but i wasnt having it, and eventually she was like 'ba-bee' which was completely amazing, ive never know her say something understandable, ever.

i kind of passed it off as fluke, but today she was on my back and i kept asking her 'Nozahi?' which really means where are you going, but i was asking her and she was pointing where she wanted to go. anyway, i was asking her and she pointed so i started walking and then i stopped and asked 'where, here?' and she was like 'here! here! here!' it was so cool. i really want to just spend more time talking to her, because im sure that if she just had more one to one time she would be fine.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Someone tell me why?

i know a lot of what i write on here is just a blow-by-blow of what ive been doing, and i dont often write what im actually thinking about the situations i find myself in. obviously being here makes you think a lot and consider things that might not seem important back home.

the past week hasnt been particularly eventful, ive just been at school and the lodge in the usual routine. Shanita, the girl with malaria was back in school yesterday and was looking much better. she tells me she didnt get taken to hospital, she was just 'eating medicine' for the 2 days she was off school, and now she's feeling better. yesterday we did another sports day as it was the last school day before exams start. we did some much better games and things, with completely different stations to last time, which was nice. we had wheelbarrow races, sack races, limbo, egg and spoon race and a frizbee throwing competition. i (predictably)ended up dealing with a few injuries, most of which were minor.

as soon as the kids see someone getting first aid of any kind (i wouldnt put it past them to act the same if they saw someone getting CPR) they all decide that they want it too. so as soon as you put  a plaster on one kid, you get like 10 others coming and showing you cuts they've had for weeks and expecting you to put plasters on them. so yesterday i was putting antiseptic and a plaster on a cut knee, and a few other kids came over to gawp and also try their luck at getting plasters too. i told them to all go back and play, and they all did, apart from one, who sat the grinning at me, and gesturing at her leg. i was about to tell her to go and play again, i even told her her leg was fine, and then i looked at it properly. i literally gasped out loud and had to restrain myself from swearing. she had this enormous open wound on her leg, which was full of puss and dirt and grass, and absolutely stank. i got jameel over to look at it, and he was just like 'maybe you clean it and then put a plaster'. i wanted to scream at him. she didnt need a f*cking plaster, she needed stitches when it happened! she didnt get them, and now its been a week, its horribly infected and she needs antibiotics you fool! after cleaning it and dressing it as best i could,  i told him (rather more politely than above) that a plaster wasnt really going to cut it, and that she needed antibiotics. it was only after this whole debacle of me cleaning this thing with no gloves (my small supply of those ran out  long time ago) that he thought to ask me 'dont you have gloves? its very dangerous to be touching blood without them.' i told him through gritted teeth that no, i didnt have gloves, but im sure its ok, and he then said 'but this one, she has the HIV.' i was just like great, so now she has a hideous infection that is not only unpleasant and painful, but could kill her.

i took her off to the hospital only to find that the ENTIRE staff was in a meeting that wouldnt be finished until 2 hours later,at which point the lab would be closed. this was immensely frustrating, and really did get me asking myself WHY they would do that, when it so obviously doesn't make any sense. anybody coming in with a serious bleed or something would have been completely screwed. in the end we just went to the chemist and bought her some antibiotics, which (hopefully) will do the trick.

last night we went out clubbing at sals again as is traditional on friday nights, which was a good laugh. i was completely exhausted having got up at six to walk up the mountain to see the sunrise (bloody hard work, if you were wondering) and then not going to bed unto 21hours later. James works at the lodge as a general handy man and driver, so he drove us to town. we had negociated that we would pay him 2000 shillings each, and he would drive us all there, and then make 2 trips back at different times when people wanted to leave. James does tend to push it a bit when it comes to making money from the volunteers but there is also a lot bitching abut him that goes on which i think exaggerates the problem. we usually pay him for driving us the next day, and last night was no different, except that early thismorning 5 people went home. he was around and asked them if they would pay their share, and one of the girls evidently turned around and told him to f*uck off, and only one of them paid. when i heard about this iwas really annoyed, i think its increddibly rude and i also think that you have to expect people to try and get as much money as possible out of you, at the end of the day they have next to nothing and compared to them we have everything, if you were in that situation, wouldnt YOU try it on a bit? i think i would! annoyingly it was me that negociated with james to drive us, so its also me that had to collect the money, which means that i will be left to foot the bill for the people who didnt pay. im a bit pissed off with that situation because i feel as though im constantly doing that,, and normally i dont mind, like the other night i spent about 50,000 shillings on ingredients to make dinner for everyone, and when they offered to give me the money i refused, as it was me that wanted to do it, but now im wishing i hadnt.

this post has come off sounding really whingey, but this ismy only outlet for that! i am enjoying everything else about being here, ive just been in quite a reflective mood...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Matron? She just deals with the shit....

hey, sorry to have left that post in such an abysmal state yesterday!

steven's foot has been looking much better though his shoes have not reappeared, i'd love to know where they have gone, but im afraid i know already. i get that people here are desperate and some will do anything for money, but how could someone take shoes off a child that obviously desperately needs them?

the following day, i think it must have been friday, i saw another child with a foot injury. there are so many foot problems here, it really is frustrating that we cant give shoes to all the kids, and even if we could they wouldnt have them for long because they might be sold or whatever. anyway, this child had been running around the playground barefoot and had kicked a rock that was ebedded in the ground, which had ripped his toenail out. the base of it was completely free of his toe, but there was still a strip of skin accross the middle where the cuticle had been, keeping it attatched to his foot. a few of the female teachers including 'matron' had just been playing with this child and not taking any notice of the serious injury to his foot, and eventually MK brought him to me. when i saw it i was annoyed because im there to teach not to patch kids up all day, and although im happy to help i was still pretty upset by my experience with steven the previous day. MK was advocating cutting the nail off with a razorblade, which i certainly didnt want any part in, so i turned to him and asked 'wheres matron? isnt she meant to deal with these things? isnt she supposed to be the nurse?' he laughed and was like 'no no, she just cleans up when one of the little ones shits themselves' at least that cleared that one up for me, ive been wondering what she was supposed to do for ages... anyway, i refused to cut the child with the filthy razrblade that was offered to me, and cleaned and bandaged the toe as best i could.

ive already written about friday night in my prevoius post and about going clubbing, before we went out we played volleyball at school after the kids had gone home which was fun but even though i wore wrist guards i managed to pop one of my wrists out which wasnt so hot. 

over the weekend i didnt do a huge amount, just hung around the lodge and town. some new people came who were really friendly and we went on a really long sweetie walk up both sides of the valley.

yesterday i had another day of f*cking medical issues which was annoying and concerning in equal measure. I noticed that olivia (the same child who i took t hospital with an eye infection in my first week) had these really wierd hard lumps on her head behind her ears a couple of weeks ago, but she was perfectly happy and said that they weren't painful at all so i didnt do anything about it.yesterday she was sent to me by her teacher and she was crying, which ive never actually known her do before even when shes been ill, s i knew that something was definitely up. she said that they were really painful and she wouldnt let me touch them at all, and she had developed several more on her neck too. i asked Amon who is meant t be the village medical officer as well as volunteer supervisor if he knew what they were but he didnt, so i took her off to the hospital. i was praying that it would be Dr Moses i would see as he is nice and used to Mzungus rather than Dr Edwin, who doesnt like me and thinks im just an annoying woman with too much time on her hands. and as i knew that this was unlikely to be life threatening, i didnt think he'd be too impressed with me bringing her in. thankfully only moses was there, and he was nice about it but he didnt know what was wrong with her, he tested for malaria, syphillis (i was told at school that she was born with it) and HIV, all of which were negative. at the end of all of this he was like 'er.... maybe she's had a chest infection?' so he gave her antibiotics and diclofenac, which i was a bit shocked by, she's only 4! and some stuff for her head fungus, which she can never seem to get rid of.

after we got back from the hosiptal i was jst chilling at the lodge for a bit and went into town, and got back in time for afternoon break. h ids arent really supposed to come over to the lodge during school hours but its right next to the playground and they often wander over. there is a girl who lives basically in the school playground so she is always at the lodge outside of school time as her house is so close, so she knws and trusts me. she came over during break and was like 'shanita is asleep in class' which was a bit of a non statement so i asked her why and she was like 'she is very sick' so i grabbed my first aid bag and made my way back over to school. when i got there shanita wasnt in the classroom anymore as it was ebing cleaned and so was loud and dusty, but we eventually found her balancing on one of the benches, trying to sleep. she really didnt look well and when i checked her temperature it was 39 degrees, which was pretty concerning, and she was coughing absolutely loads. i gave her some paracetamol and waitedwith her until it was time t go home. i asked one f the teachers how far away she lived and the teacher said it was 'far but not far' which was really helpful, but she claimed it would only take half an hour to walk there, which sounded fine. we started walking and after a while Abi passed me on a boda boda, taking another child home. we were still walking when she was heading back, still on the boda, so i shouted for her to send the boda man back for me. thankfully he picked me up soon after when i had been walking for about 35 minutes, and then when we got on the boda it was a seriously bad road, if you can even call it that, and it took us another 20 minutes on the motorbike before we reached her house! when i gt there i explained to her mother what we had done and that if she wasnt better today i would take her to hospital, but typically she wasnt in school today, and neither was olivia, so im quite worried about both of them now :(

today i went into school for porridge which was really fun and then sat in on a maths lesson with P3, which was nice. i dont really have much else to tell you, but ill post again soon!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Disapointing chickens....

hey all

the last few days havent been all that eventful, but ill give you a rundown anyway. on friday we went out for dinner and then went to sals. last week when we went to sky blue for dinner i had chicken and chips and it was actually really nice, the chicken had a fair bit of meat on it and was cooked nicely, so this week i ordered it again but it was completely different, no meat on it at all and it looked like it had been grilled for hours, it was completely dried up. anway, we pre-ordered our food because they take ages to bring it anway, but they brought it out pretty much as soon as we arrived, and so by the time we finished it was still too early really to go to sals for clubbing, so we hung around for as long as possible and then went to sals a bit early at about nine. we would normally go at about ten or half past but we thought it would be ok. when we arrived it was really dead, there was absolutely nobody there so we just sat at a table and chatted a while. MK, one of the teachers was there though and some of the staff from the lodge, and he came running up to me in the dark outside the club, scared the crap out of me!

after a while it livened up a bit and we actually had a really good night, lots of mzungus came and danced etc, and there were quite a lot of boys at the lodge at the time, which meant that there was always somebody you could grab and pretend to be married to nearby! some people left at like midnight but it got really god after that, somebody asked them to play the venga boys and i got so excited singing to it that i dislocated my jaw. everybody thought it was so funny and didnt help me at all, it was really painful!!

a few days ago, i cant remember what day exactly, i think it was thursday, i got shown this kid with a gammy foot. i took him to the lodge to get a better look and when i got there i realised that it was actually really bad and he had been burned all between the webspace of his toes and the skin was essentially rotting. it was also really dirty and full of grass and stuff, which obviously wasnt ideal. i took him off to hospital and the doctor recognised me and gave some medication for the infection, and then sent be back to the lodge to clean it. that was exactly what i didnt feel equipped to do but i didnt really have a choice, so i spent about 2 hours trying to clean this thing while he screamed the place down, it was completely horrible and in the end i had to leave a blade of grass in it because everytime he saw that i had tweezers in my had he went absolutely mental, even thought i was trying super hard not to hurt him and we had put loacl anaeasthetic on it and stuff, i think he was more upset because he was scared and he didnt undertsand what was going on than because we were hurting him. i did get it much cleaner than it was anbd we gave him some shoes and its been looking much better the last few days.

i dont really want to abandon this post half way through but i have a boda driver waiting outside who is getting restless!! will finish this tomorrow xxx

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

a quick update...

hey guys, sorrys its been so long since i last posted.

blogger has been doing some wierd shit and suddenly decided it didnt like the browser installed on the internet cafe computers, so im writing this in a different internet cafe, where it still says the browser is incompatible, but will load the page and work perfectly.

on friday morning we drove back to the lodge, Paul and Tariq were on their way to lake bunyoni for the weekend so they gave me a lift. when we arrived back i was told that the staff at the lodge had cut the lock off my door because they thought everybody had gone home, even though im here for another six weeks. i was a bit annoyed because although they replaced the lock, the one they replaced it with has a key rather than a combination, so if new people join me in my room it will be really annoying as there is only one key. also, all of the locks in the shops here have at least 3 keys, so i wonder if the staff now have access to my room... :/

anyway, when i got t\back there were loads of new people, it was a bit wierd, i felt like a stranger in my home! including a 16 year old boy who came with his foster father. his name is ben, and he has asbergers, so he comes over a bit immature but hes really sweet.

anyway, nothing major has happened the last few days apart from that, ive just been going to school every day and trying to impart some wisdom on the kids. ive been going on quite a lot of walks with the kids and doing the so called 'sweetie walk' a few times, which is basically when you walk through the hills giving sweets to any passing children.

at school one of the teachers babies that i know from last year who remembers me and always comes running up to me finally said my name today, which was so nice. she usually comes running over and says 'Mzungu, Agandi?' which basically means, hello white person, how are you? and i would reply with 'ndyaho', which means im fine, and then i would say 'no mzungu, my name is Lucy' but she's only 2 and she would always just look at me and laugh, but today she came running over and she was like 'Mzungu LUCY, agandi?!' and she was so excited that she knew my name, it was so cute!

i didnt go to sals on friday because nobody else was going, whihc was a bit dissapointing, but we had a reallyy nice night in the lodge anyway. now that dennis is back i've had quite a few nice evenings in the lodge actually, and on monday we went out for dinner and drinks because it was one of the new volunteers 18th birthday.

last night a few people organised a quiz, and we came 3rd, missing 1st by only 3 marks. tonight mrass is coming to make rolexes which is good, im dying for a good meal. when i got back from my week in kampala everybdy said i looked like id massively lost wieght, all of the a\staff at the lodge kept asking if i was ok, i couldnt work out why they were asking, and then i sat with one of them and he was like 'you are so skinny now, are you sick?' i was like er no?! i didnt know whether to be offended or pleased with that!

ive got a beast of a cold now which is really annoying, all of the kids have colds and its so easy to pick them up.

the other day me and one of the other volunteers, Sarah, walked this little boy home from school. ive not been that way before and when we got there it was a really nice house, brick built and even had glass in the windows. the baby had smallpox though (do we get vaccinated against that in the UK or has it just been eradicated?) and when we wnet inside the mother insisted we sit down and she was like 'you must eat, what would you like?' and i knew it might be abit like that because ive been in that situation before but we just tried to make an excuse, and while we were explaining that we had to go back t the lodge for dinner we both saw something move and looked up, there was this ENORMOUS rat running allong the top of the wall, we made our excuses and left pretty quickly after that!!

i dont really have anything else to say at the minute, sorry for the disjointed post!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sports day and beyond...

God its been a while since i posted!!

on Friday we had sports day at school. in the morning i was in charge of baby one along with Martha, one of the other volunteers. we basically had to herd them from station to station of the different activities and get them to join in, help them along, tie them together for 3 legged (3 armed for the babies!) etc. The first thing we had to do though was tie these coloured bands onto their wrists, so that we could see at a glance what class they were in/what team they were on and also where they should be (in theory). we went along to our class with a shedload of blue bands, ans started tying them on, in a bow, so that they could be easily removed. the problem with this was that they were prone to coming undone, and so the kids had to either come to us to have them retied, forget about it and drop it on the floor, or get a friend to tie it for them. most of them were reluctant to abandon their bands, i think we could have just tied them on and not done any activities and they still would have been delighted, but anyway, most of them opted to get a friend to re-tie it. the problem with this, was that being aged between 3 and 6, most of them ended up tying them back on far too tight and with impossible knots. in hindsight using non stretchy material was not a good plan.

anyway, once the band crisis had been (virtually) solved, we took them outside, asking them to all hold hands in a line, which of course they didnt do, to the obstacle course. as they are so young we had to take 2 kids at a time each and run the course with them. as you can imagine, this gets pretty tiring and repetative after a while, but mostly it was fun. i came well prepared with my big first aid kit on the day, imagining lots of scraped knees and the like, so i wasnt really surprised that i had to crack it out within half an hour of the sports starting, but i was surprised that the child who needed attending to wasn't actually doing sports day until the afternoon! Anita, the child who had malaria a couple of weeks back, who i was so worried about appeared, ran over to me and said 'lucy, come quickly, my friend is sick!' she seemed to be in a bit of a panic and i was wondering what the hell could be wrong, so i grabbed my bag and came running. when i got the classroom i found that there was no teacher (the staff  were all far too excited by sports day, and those who were scheduled to participate in the afternoon - ie, the teachers of the older classes, had abandoned their classes to join in with the morning session too) but the child was essentially fine, she just had a headache. i gave her some paracetamol from the schools supply (they are constantly handing out pills to the kids and not recording them anywhere, its a wonder they havent given any an overdose) and explained to Anita that she was going to be ok. i told her that next time somebody is sick there is no need for her to be running around and loosing her head unless there is a real emergency, like someone is unconscious or having a fit, and even then, it would be better if she could be a bit calmer about it! she was really apologetic and told me that she was scared that her friend had malaria too, because she had started out with a headache and her friend wasnt talking to anybody either. i felt massively guilty and tried to reassure her that her friend didnt have malaria.

when i returned to my group they had descended into a bit of chaos, (though it wasnt just us, every group was in a similar situation!) so we moved them onto the 3 legged race. when we arrived at the 3 legged station in became apparent that the 3 legged race wasnt really appropriate for children so young, they had struggled to even tie the kids in the first group together at the ankle because they had never done it before and didnt understand what was happening. they had instead run it as a 3 armed race, tying the kids together at the wrist, and letting them run down the hill that way. although infinitely less challenging, they loved it and laughed all the way down, and not a single child fell over, which i was glad of, because it would have been me who had to patch them up.

after the 3 legged armed race we moved our kids on to the water station, which was a game that we had seen one of the teachers set up with the kids at break one day, and decided to steal his idea as the kids loved it so much. basically, the kids were split into 4 teams, and each team has a big basin of water at the start line, and a bottle at the finish line. they have to take it in turns to pick p as much water as they can, in their mouths and hands and however else they can think of, and then take it along the line and empty it into the bottle. the first team to fill their bottle wins. they absolutely love this game and get completely soaked in the process, but they couldn't care in the slightest. they also couldnt really get the hang of sticking to one basin and bottle or taking turns, they all just run to the basin with the most space, fill up, and then empty the water at any bottle that doesn't have somebody already using it. they seemed to enjoy it anyway.

the next station we took them to was the musical bumps station. although this is a party game and not a sport, we have been heavily plugging dance as a sport, because the girls arent allowed to play football and therefore dont get to do any sports at school at all. again, being young children they loved this game and didnt seem to be getting tired out at all.

after they had done all of the stations (i might have forgotten one or two...) they had a break for lunch. the poor kids had missed out on porridge that morning because the school have a new kitchen that they have suddenly started using, and the food is never out on time. as it was, porridge was served at 12.50 (its meant to be at 10.00) and lunch is meant to be at 1pm! i dont know how they worked around that one. while they had porridge we went around and removed any bands that the kids were still wearing, we were planning to re-use them in the afternoon with the second group, but we didnt get anywhere near enough of them back for that, though it turned out we didnt need them, as the older kids are much better at staying put at the station they are at.

after lunch i was running a station, rather than staying with a class. It was a new station for the older kids, as the younger ones couldn't really grasp it  - over and under.  for those of you that havent played this game before, you basically split into a few teams (we did 3), and stand one behind the other. then a ball is passed over the front persons head, and then under the next persons legs, and so on, until it gets to the back of the line. once it gets there the child at the back runs to the front, and it starts again. once every child has been the 'starter' at the front of the line, and the original starter is back at the front, the team sits down. the first team to do this wins. running this station was absolutely exhausting, i was hoarse from shouting 'over' and 'under' so many times, and running up and down the line at the same pace as the ball was moving. i got some great pictures though and the kids loved it.

i dont know if i mentionned it, but on wednesday during porridge i saw a child sitting extremely still. this is really unusual and generally quite worrying. i made my way over to him and saw that one of his toenails was missing, and in its place was an open, weeping wound. i was a bit horrified and immediately carried him over to the lodge, and started cleaning his poor toe. there were some pretty large chunks of crap (thats a clinical term, you know) in it, that i did my best to remove with antiseptic wipes, but in the end i had to use a sterile needle. ive got a pretty big supply of them, so i wasnt worried about using it, but i didnt want to scare him. he looked wide-eyed and scared when i took it out of its packaging, but after id finished he actually told Oz, who was translating for us, that when i used to needle it was less painful than the wipes. i was relieved that it hadnt been too traumatic for him and i dressed it and sent him on his way.

on friday i was working at the over and under station when one of the other volunteers brought the same child to me. the nail looked as though it was starting to grow back, at an alarming rate, i had to check that it was the same child, but he had knocked the top off whatever sort of healing was taking place, and was in a whole heap of pain. i cleaned and dressed it again, but i felt bad that i couldnt do anything else. im certain that it's going to get hideously infected.

after that sports day was basically over, we were all exhausted. i sat on the grass getting my breath back, and Jameel approached and said 'the volunteers, they have made very good games today. are you going to do this every friday?' if i hadnt laughed i would have cried. i explained to him that in the UK we do this once a year, and he seemed a bit dissapointed. i have to admit, the whole school had a jovial party atmosphere, which was great, but i definitely couldnt do it every week!

Wow, ive written a lot, and im not even done talking about friday yet!

after we recovered from sports day - i think most of us had a quick power nap! we got ready for Sals. i dont know if ive explained this but Sals is as close as Ntungamo will ever get to a nightclub. its a good laugh. anyway, before we left i started feeling a bit dodgy in the stomach department but i couldnt miss a night at sals so i was determined to go anyway. by the time we got there i was feeling pretty horrific, too ill to drink, and after about an hour, too ill to dance. i felt absolutely freezing, even though its always warm in the club, but i was boiling hot to touch. i ended up going home at about midnight with a few others.

on saturday morning when i woke up i was still feeling ill, much worse than the night before, so i stayed in bed. at around lunchtime i was desperate for the loo and i didnt want to walk accross the compound in my pyjamas so i got up and got dressed. i sleep on the top bunk in my room and there is no ladder, so you essentially have to launch yourself off the top bunk. i felt a bit faint just sitting up in bed, but i had no other way of getting down slowly so i jumped. i was really weak for some reason, i think i was more ill than i realised, so i fell forwards and banged my head on the bunk opposite. it was a great start. i got dressed quickly and set off for the toilet block. then, as i sat there on the loo, feeling like crapola and producing a fair bit too,  i full on fainted and fell off the throne, banging my head on the wall next to me. i emerged from the toilet block looking worse than i went in (and that was difficult, in my state) and everyone was quite worried about me. i could barely keep my eyes open, and i felt like i was going to faint whenever i was on my feet. there were 2 junior doctors at the lodge who offered to put a drip up for me, and i dont know why because i would have felt better so much quicker if id said yes, but i said no. i tried to drink as much water as possible, which wasnt much, and went back to bed. when i was in my room i remembered that i had a thermometer that i had really brought to use on the kids who had suspected malaria and stuff, but there was no harm in me using it too. i was a bit shocked when my temperature came out at 39.8! it was no wonder i was feeling so bad. i took some paracetamol (no idea why i didnt think of that earlier) and after a couple of hours i felt 100X better. i dont think it can just have been the paracetamol, but it definitely helped! my temperature came back down nearer to normal and i felt less wobbly, which was great. i still couldnt really eat or anything because i was vomiting everything straight back up, but compared to the morning i felt amazing.

on sunday we had the day safari to Lake Mburo and although i still wasnot feeling 100%, i was determined to go. the day didnt get off to a great start, the driver was over an hour late, and asked for double the fee we had been expecting. he also brought a lady friend with him for the ride, and Amon told us that Anne had insisted that a member of the lodge staff come too, so he tagged along as well. this would have been ok had we been in a proper safari vehichle, but we weren't, we were in a matatu. obviously, matatus have limited looking out space as you cant lift the roof off, and Amon and this random woman were both hogging a window seat each. we were a bit pissed off but we didnt say anything as we werent in the park yet and thought they might move when we got there. when we arrived we saw some impala and waterbuck before we even went through the park gates, which was nice, but once we were in the Ugandans we were riding with became increasingly irritating. Amon has recently acquired a digital camera somewhere, and so whenever we saw anything he was getting all excited and leaning out of the windows to take pictures. this would have been fine, except he was blocking the WHOLE window, for the WHOLE time, so the people sat next to him couldnt see, or take any pictures themselves. he was also a bit over excited and VERY loud, so he kept scaring the animals away. the other volunteers got pissed off, obviously, though they were quite rude to him, telling him to shut up and shouting at him, which i thought was really innapropriate and rude.

we saw loads of zebra (76 i think...) and impala and waterbuck, along with a pair of hippos that we were really close to, just standing on the bank of the lake watching them in the water. we also saw a few interesting birds and stuff, along with a load of monkeys and an impressive line of siafu.

on monday morning my roomates, Maya and Suzanne and I set off on the post bus for Kampala. there were no seats when we got on and so we had to stand in the aisle, but thankfully they stopped for a short call after about half an hour so we moved down the bus and sat on the floor. quite a few people got off in Mbarara so then we had seats for the rest of the journey. i had spoken to Paul and he said he couldnt meet us, so he sent one of his drivers, who too us to Medditaraneo, an italian restaurant to meet Tariq. we had lunch (lasagne, amazing!) and then went back to their flat, where we just chilled until the evening. once it got a bit later we went out to a cocktail bar ive not been to before called Big Mikes. it was quite nice (though very expensive, 17,000 for a drink when im used to paying 3,000) and i saw some people i know from being here last year. we stayed there most of the evening, and some new volunteers of Pauls joined us too.  Paul didnt join us because he has a girlfriend who has been living here for the past year but is moving back to Canada, and it was her last night in Kampala.

on Tuesday morning we got up and went to the craft market in town, Maya and Suze wanted to get some last minute gifts for people. Tariq was going to give us a lift but his car wouldnt start, so we got bodas (motorbike taxis) instead. the craft market was as i remembered it, busy, with loads of stalls and lots of stuff to buy. i bought a few things, but didnt go crazy, i've got 7 weeks left here! we went to Open House for lunch, which is just down the road and is owned by a friend of Paul and Tariqs who i know quite well. i was still feeling a bit delicate so i ordered a kids meal, expecting it to be small, but it was huge! i didnt eat very much of it, and when the waiter came over i couldnt work our what he was saying, it sounded like 'can i park it?' nd he gestured at our plates, we thought he was asking if we were done. we said yes, and he took them away, only to return a few minutes later with a doggy bag! we were a bit embarrassed and i realised he must have been asking 'can i pack it?' and we had agreed. we gave the food to a disabled homeless man we passed on the way back to the market. i was also a bit embarrassed and taken aback when we asked for the bill, and the staff seemed to just ignore us. we asked again, and they looked a bit confused and just said 'no, nothing to pay.' we tried to explain that we hadnt paid yet but the situation just got more confused. eventually we worked out that Ronak, the owner, had instructed his staff not to charge us for our lunch! it was very nice of him, considering he only met the girls the night before at big Mikes, and me a handful of times, but anyway, we werent going to argue!

when we got back to the flat maya and suze had to sort out their stuff for going to the airport, as we had booked a car to take them at 12:30 am. Paul called and said he was on his way to the airport with his girlfriend, to see her off. he said we should go out when he got back. he didnt get back for AGES, i was actually assleep on the sofa by the time he got back, and it was almost time for the girls to leave. he was a bit deflated having just had to say goodbye to dy, so he said he wanted to go out. Tariq was at the casino, and he wanted to go and meet up with him, so i agreed to come. what i didnt realise was that we would spend the next 4 hours in the casino, the boys playing poker, and me alternating between trying to learn the game and trying to stay awake. we eventually got back to the flat at about 5AM, the only good thing about going to the casinos is all of the free food and alcohol, and for the boys, free cigarettes. (people lighting up inside is something i will never get used to here, after living with the smoking ban for so long, it seems really strange to see people smoking inside a plush casino)

on wednesday Paul had some businessy stuff to attend to and i went with him, basically riding around the city looking for coffee buyers, and trying to track down some money that had gone missing. it was quite fun actually, way more interesting that conventional 'work'.

by the time the evening rolled round i was starving as we hadnt really eaten all day, apart from some pineapple at breakfast, so we went to this place called MishMash, where i had tilapia and chips, which was really nice. apparently MishMash is the new Mzungu day and night hang out, though i still havent been there at night so i cant comment on what thats like. there were a lot of mzungus there though, and Paul and Tariq seem to know all of them. after we ate the boys decided they were in the mood for a bit more gambling, so we headed over to Simba casino. i wasnt quite so worried about this one as there was another girl there, a friend of Tariq who we picked up at MishMash so at least i had someone to talk to! surprisingly we didnt stay long and headed back to the flat before i could even finish my second free gin and tonic. when we got back we just chilled for a bit, and then Tariq re-appeared with the same girl, and we all just chatted and hung out for a bit before we went to bed.

this morning i went with paul again while he was working, though we did some more leisurely things too, like paul went to get a shave in this salon which was a bit mental, they seemed to do everything. there were women sitting with foils in their hair while one person worked on her fingernails, another on her toenails and someone else gave her a piercing. and it literally was all happening simultaneously. Paul was a bit doubtful about the guy who was shaving him, and had to explain how to do it! if i had to explain to the guy what he was supposed to do i wouldnt want him anywhere near my face with a cut throat razor, but paul was quite chilled about it. he eventually got the job done, though not without spilling some blood (some of pauls blood, that is) and then putting acetone,(thats nail polish remover) of all things on the cut! craziness, clearly didnt know what he was doing. all the acetone would do is sting like a motherfucker, which apparently it did, and then he got some in his eye... i was glad i hadnt opted to get my nails done or anything! i also saw a woman who had acrylic overlays on her nails and was getting them re-done, sitting there and picking them off with her other nails. she was sat right next to me, and i had to actually bite my tongue to stop myself from saying something to her, i wanted to scream! i couldnt stop myself from cringeing.

tonight Tariq cooked us this slightly odd but edible tinned tuna curry and rice, and they have gone to a poker tournament. i will be joining them soon, after the poker is over, to go out.

they are going to Lake bunyoni tomorrow, and will be passing by the lodge, so they are going to give me a lift in the morning :)

bloody hell, that was long. if you made it this far you deserve a medal!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Milking it...

hey guys!

what with all the drama of the other day i forgot to mention some things, so im back tracking a bit. on tuesday night me, danielle and Christy went with Frank the Cowboy to milk one of his cows. wierdest experience ever. i did actually manage to coax some milk out, though i dont think the cow was very happy about it! it had a little calf running around as well, who was dissapointed not be getting in on the action, and kept running past us and kicking out, i was scared it was going to kick me!

after all the drama i actually feel a bit better, i spoke to a few of the girls who were really reassuring, and ive just been keeping away from Amon and Oz as much as possible. ive been doing some serious work at schoolt he last few days too, which has been a good distraction. we are doing a huige survey of all 470 kids to find out their favourite things, about their parents and sibling etc, to send the info on to the people who sponsor them, so they can have a bit more personal information about their child. it took forever because the records the school has about the children are years out of date, and they have taken on 200 kids in the last year alone, so we had to go through and sort all of the enrolement forms and update them to show what class the child is now in, and then copy the information into a book, and only then could we start asking the kids what their favourite animal, colour, and lesson is, and who their best friend is and what chores they do at home. it was quite sad going through all the forms, lots of children dont have more than one parent, and a surprising amount dont have any at all. the notes on each child ranged from 'from a poor family' to 'has been defiled by her father'. the child who had that on her form is only 5.

yesterday we continued with the survey, and then we started organising sports day, which is today. the whole school is participating, which is great. im excited to see them have some fun after a week of exams. last night i walked one of the kids home, who doesnt live particularly far away, but very high up the steepest mountain. i was knackred by the time we got there but she hadnt even broken a sweat. it was worth it though, the view was amazing. no sooner had i got back to the lodge from this walk i was persuaded to go on a 'sweetie walk', which basically involves walking around the hills giving a sweet to any child you see. they love it and it helps to stop the parents and other villagers feeling that we are starangers, as we come by ther houses and chat to them too. after that we went to school and played baseball. ive never played it before but is basically rounders with a metal bat and a stupid glove on. a few people had been playing at the lodge earlier and had persuaded one of the staff to bat. unfortunately he smashed a window! everyone else said it was them and that james wasnt playing, as they didnt want him to be in trouble. thankfully anne thought it was funny. so anyway, we moved the game to school where the windows are just holes with metal accross them. i played barefoot and when i had finished running round my foot and big toe was killing me, whenever i moved it. the possibility of it being broken is pretty high i think, as its still really swollen and painful today.

thats all ive been up to really,. but ive got an excting few days ahead! its sports day tonighjt, and then clubbing at sals, then tomorrow im going to the refugee camp/settlement, and then on sunday im going to lake mburo for a day safari, and then on monday im going to kampala with my roommates for a night out and the craft market and nice food before they go home. im going back ot the lodge on wednesday and i dont know what im doing after that!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Secrets and Lies

The last few days have been a bit mental, and necessarily in a good way.

On Monday night everybody got back from safari which was nice, I hate it when the lodge is empty. There is a new guy who came on Monday too, called stuart. He’s about 35 and really down to earth, which is good, we need someone to diffuse all the bitching!

we had chips for dinner on monday,  so ive had the rare treat of nice food 3 days in a row.

for the past week or so, one of the younger male staff at the lodge had been making it apparent that he was interested in me. its not like i dont like him at all or anything, but i really didnt come here to get a ugandan boyfriend. he had wanted to dance with me a lot at Sals last friday, and i didnt really think anything of it, we were all dancing with everyone, and being staff from the lodge, they are supposed to understand the limits and also i would hope understand that we would much rather dance with them at Sals than dance alone, because that you makes you more vulnerable to unwanted advances to random african men. so anyway, the long and short of it is, i danced with Oz but i also danced with alex, Teacher MK and Amon. as far as i was concerned it didnt mean anything. 

on monday night Oz said he wanted to talk to me alone. i was a bit nervy about that because i didnt really want to have to turn him down and upset him. it turned out that declaring his undying love for me was only a very small part of his adgenda. we walked over and sat at school in the evening to have this talk, and he basically told me hat all of the other volunteers at the lodge hate me, that they are constantly bitching about me, and telling him he's crazy for liking me. he named a few specific people but also said that there was nobody who didnt feel that way about me. that was a bit of a blow really. i wasnt feeling welcome as it was but could just about persuade myself it was me being paranoid, not EVERYBODY hates me, etc, but there he was, claiming that he had been told all of this stuff.

the next thing he spoke about really shocked and upset me, and i still dont know how to deal with it. Amon is the volunteer co-ordinator, and although he's not really old enough to be any of our grandfathers, he is basically viewed as the grandfather figure of he lodge. he's really nice, knows a lot and looks after us. i obviously know him from last year and i am freinds with him on facebook. throughout the past year, whenever i am online he would come on chat and talk to me. i always just thought he was being nice. after i mentioned that i was coming back, he was always messaging me saying things like 'hello dear, have you fixed your flights yet?' again, just thought he was being nice. the only thing that i ever thought was slightly odd about Amon and his behaviour towards me was that when we were at Sals (which i don really think is his idea of fun) he was quite insistent about dancing with me, and was trying to grind with me. I'm not against griding with someone for a laugh, but when they are older than your mum thats just wierd. anyway, Oz tells me that before i arrived, Amon has been telling everyone that he has this girlfriend called Lucy Fordham who is coming to visit him for 2 months. a lot of the staff believed him as well, because i quite often sit next to amon in the evenings around the fire and talk to him. the only reason i did that was because he is a nice man and a familliar face, and interesting to talk to. 

after dropping that bombshell, Oz did then tell me that he was in love with me and asked if i loved him back. i told him that he couldnt possibly love me having known me for only 2 weeks, and tried my best to let him down gently. he seemed to accept that and thanked me for being honest, and then he swore me to secrecy about the whole conversation. i had no idea what to do and was really upset, so naturally i rang home in tears. my parents advice was to talk to Dennis, who runs the lodge and school. i havent spoken to him yet, and i dont know if im going to, i just thnk that all of this is out of his control, its not like he can UNsay what amon said, and he cant force the other volunteers to be nice to me. 

i basically just went to bed miserable, and ried to decide what to do. yesterday morning i got up and felt a bit better, and got really stuck into ome super boring paperwork. it took forever but did feel like i was being generally useful. i tried not to say anything to anyone, i dont want them to get annoyed with me any more than they are already. yesterday evening i spoke to Dannii, who i feel i can trust, and Brittany, and they both think i should speak to denis too. today all i ahve really done is come into town to get phone credit, money and to use the internet. im definitely going to go to school later and walk some kids home this evening.