Kampala to Jinja, Uganda
Day 10: 7 August 2002 7:00 pm
The trucks are no longer running in parallel as one group sets off for the gorilla trek and the other onto Jinja. The group are recovering from their ‘bad taste’ party and are rather subdued.
We woke at 7:30am after sleeping like babies, even though the music had blasted out all evening. In the shower block, I met Florence, a local that cleans at the Red Chilli camp site. She was so beautiful and friendly. She was only 20 years old and her family lived north of Kampala. She visits them every three months and sends money home to them. Working six days a week, she only gets one day off and this is when she meets her friends in Kampala and parties. Florence studied for two years in Nairobi, yet she is still a cleaner, although I noticed she took great pride in her work. Being Catholic, she sings in a choir (around two-thirds of the population are Christian). I would have loved to chat to her for ages, but as always the truck was ready to go.
We set off to Jinja, but stopped in Kampala first to change money. The forex bureaus have two tier exchange rates. The best rates are for US dollar bill denominations of 50 and above. The next tier is $5 – $20, and for $1 dollar bills, don’t even bother. Bring large US dollar bill denominations if coming to Uganda.
Jinja lies on the shores of Lake Victoria and it’s main attraction is that it is the ‘source of the Nile’. Most tourists come here to attack the Grade V white water rapids.
Our camp site was on the edge of Bujagali Falls, a scene out of "The Land That Time Forgot", it felt postively prehistoric. The series of rampant rapids are approximately 50 metres from the door of our tent, so no midnight sleep-walking. Fish eagles survey their prey, perched high up in the trees.
School children collecting water from the Nile
We went for a wander outside the camp site and Tom found a steep trail down to the river. As we were walking down, a group of school children came running past us with plastic jerry cans to fill up from the river. They attend school in the morning and are then sent out in the afternoons to collect water – it is a hour’s walk to their village from here, so the process is time consuming.
We chatted to them and asked their names. Lulu was the youngest at 3, followed by Rose, Joy, Brenda, and Doreen the oldest at 8. I tried to pick up one of the full jerry cans, but I could hardly lift it, while they hoisted the jerry cans with ease onto banana leaf rings placed on their heads. I was amazed at how agile and strong they were – they would put most Western children to shame. Even Lulu had her own smaller jerry can. Tom tried to balance a small jerry can on his head much to the children’s delight – it was a great source of entertainment for them.
It was a lovely experience, exactly what I had come to Africa for. At last, we were meeting the locals and finding out how they lived. We were so happy as we tramped back to our tent and rushed to tell everyone, but no one was interested (except Natasha and Jason). It would be so easy on this trip to hardly meet any local people or interact with them as you are ferried from camp site to camp site viewing wildlife on the way. Yet our group seems quite happy with this status quo. Each to their own.
Postives: Watching the children fill up their jerry cans from the Nile and scamper up the steep hill, balancing their precious cargo on their heads.
Negatives: My rash/bites has not got any better. I’m wondering if something will explode from it in true "Alien" style.
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