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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

A Week at Morely House and Back to Uganda for Red Tape Nightmares

SOUTH AFRICA | Tuesday, 21 April 2015 | Views [509]

So what did we get up to during the second week of our holiday?  As I told you at the end of the last chapter Sunday was a wash out and it literally did not stop raining all day.  Luckily the DSTV was still connected so we could watch back to back games of footy.  Not to mention spend the rest of our time talking about all that Steve had achieved and what still needed doing. 


On Monday morning we armed ourselves with pen and paper and visited each room in turn in order to write a new ‘To Do’ list.  It ended up longer than anticipated but many of the jobs are quick and easy.  We’d decided that Steve needed a break from DIY so only crossed off a couple of things.  It’s all starting to look great and the plans feel like they’re beginning to come together.  Of course the actual setting up of the business is very dependent on us securing the correct paperwork.  That is the next crucial step and why Steve needed to return to Kampala with me.  Much as we didn’t want to leave the place empty for so long we have to apply for the business permit outside South Africa.


Steve had done all he could when in Bathurst and now we’re waiting for the DTI (Department of Trade & Industry) to give us their nod of approval.  Should they say it’s a valid business proposal then we can start applying for the business permit.  Before we get that far we need to have other bits of paperwork; namely, a medical certificate, radiology report and police clearance from Uganda.  The first two we’ve managed to do this week – it only took 3 visits to 2 different places!  The last one is in progress and we hope to be done and dusted soon – we just need to go to the Interpol office to have our finger prints taken.  I had this done in Thailand and it makes you feel like a criminal!  We’ve since found out that we need to go back to Interpol to have our photos taken – you would not believe how shabby and badly run the place is. 


Assuming we get all of these pieces of paper we can then start writing more lists i.e. what we need to do and buy for the B&B and tea rooms.  Not to mention start the permanent residency application – hopefully we’ll already have most of their paperwork requirements in hand.  No doubt they’ll chuck in something tricky to slow us up!  We’ve quickly learned that things do happen but it takes a lot of time, perseverance and nudging people into action.


The cottage needs some work doing on the floor boards downstairs and following the day of heavy rain we now know we need to seal and varnish the windows.  Other than moving out our things and buying a few bits and bobs it’s pretty much good to go.  Best of all is that’s it’s been converted to rain water and being able to turn on a tap and drink the water is a real treat / novelty for us.  We hope to get everywhere converted to rain water but that’s a long term project.  Once the thatch has been done on the rondavel we’ll need to give it a final lick of paint, furnish it and build a patio area.  The pool needs a coat of paint and we’re going to build a hedge to make it more private for overnight guests.


The architect has drawn up the plans to convert what is currently the car port into 2 B&B rooms, turn one of the store rooms into a guest loo and move the car park area into the back corner of the garden.  Obviously none of that will get started if we don’t get the permit but in the meantime the builder is preparing a quote.  I have some plans for the garden but that’s at the bottom of the list since it looks so lovely as it is.  Basically I’d like to establish a herb patch and look into indigenous plants to attract birds and small animals.


Speaking of wildlife; while we were there one of our trees was in full fruit and armed with my little field guide I’m fairly sure it’s a native woodland waterberry.  The vervet monkeys loved it and we regularly saw a large troop in the garden.  We were surprised that it didn’t attract more birds and in fact we don’t actually see very many birds in the garden.  We think it’s because we’re surrounded by native bush and they basically fly over us. 


That brings us to the main house where Steve has worked wonders getting the base layer of paint on before the roof is re-thatched.  What will be our living room is ready for furniture and the kitchen just needs a bit of cleaning and pampering.  The biggest difference I noticed was how good the decking and balcony areas looked after just one coat of paint.  Once the workmen have finished we’ll give it another coat, paint the walls and the place will look brand new.  What will be our bedroom is completely empty at the moment but once the roof is done we can finish off the painting and go shopping.   It all sounds rather mundane but believe me I was so excited to see the place and can’t wait to get down there permanently and turn the place into a home.  Plus if all goes well a business too. 


Irrespective of the permit we will be able to rent out the cottage and rondavel.  The property has already been zoned for accommodation and we do not need to reapply.  Once the zoning has been agreed it stays with the property rather than the applicant.  The lady in the planning office has kindly agreed to do the paperwork and apply for permission for us to have a tea gardens too.  She seems to think this is basically a formality as we are actually located within the CBD (Central Business District).  It always sounds odd to us when someone refers to us being in the CDB when we’re living in a rural village.


Steve and I aren’t enjoying being apart but we’re extremely glad we’ve been able to start the whole process 6 months earlier than planned.  With having to apply for the permit outside SA the timing has worked out really well.  We know there’s still a long way to go but feel we’re going in the right direction and are fairly confident that we’ll secure all the bits of paperwork we need.


We did venture beyond our gate and enjoyed time pottering around Bathrust.  Now obviously that had to include popping into the local pubs as that’s the best way to start meeting some of the locals.  We’ve already met some lovely people and can see we will very soon have a good circle of friends.  We’ve also met some of the local characters many of whom are barking mad but we expected that and it all adds to life’s rich tapestry.  What I loved was stepping out of the garden and going for a walk where within seconds you’re deep in the countryside.  It certainly beats dodging traffic and inhaling exhaust fumes – it was a bit quieter too.


We needed to pop down to town one day (Port Alfred) so combined chores with lunch out and a walk along the beach at Kenton-on-Sea.  It’s so good that these lovely places are right on our doorstep and we’re really looking forward to exploring more of the coastal walks.  Many of the bays stretch for mile upon mile of unspoilt sand and the views everywhere are stunning.  The Garden Route may be the established tourist centre but it hasn’t got anything better to offer than we have on the Sunshine Coast. 


You won’t be surprised to hear that we just couldn’t resist another trip to Addo and I think I told you that Steve had managed to book us a tent spot.  With all the recent rain the vegetation was very lush making it more difficult to spot animals.  We felt we didn’t see wildlife in vast herds like we’ve done in the past but it was good gain a different experience of the park.  Even the elephants were more scattered and it took ages for us to find any.  As we drove through the park from the southern gate up to the main gate in the north we saw many of the usual antelope and birds.  The most significant sightings to tell you about are finding a caracal and a jackal again and we finally found a lion.


Initially we were a little disappointed with the campsite as it all felt rather cramped which is unusual for Sanparks.  However, putting up our tent whilst watching a herd of elephants soon lifted our spirits.  Sunset beer watching elephants at the nearby watering hole was also a highlight.  We still haven’t got our camping kit organised so had decided to treat ourselves to a meal in the restaurant which is proving to be consistently good.  We had hoped to go on the night game drive but discovered that even by early afternoon it was already booked up.  Oh well, it gives us an excuse to go back another time. 


Following a rather restless night we were up early ready for an early morning self drive safari.  We were somewhat dismayed to find the place shrouded in a thick cloak of mist but set off anyway as we could put the heating on in the car!  The conditions made for a very atmospheric drive but unfortunately visibility wasn’t very good.  We found some more elephants including a young mother with what we feel must be her first calf.  The bushes next to the road were particularly tasty it seemed as they hung around for ages.  Up on the grassy plains the mist had thinned slightly and we found a huge herd of buffalo.  With it being a time of plenty many young were around and we saw the youngest buffalo, zebra and hartebeest ever.


We’ve looked and looked but still haven’t spotted any hyena in Addo; there aren’t many but they are there.  Another excuse to go back – not that we really need one!


Saturday morning seemed to arrive all too soon so we grabbed our bag and went to catch the taxi we’d organised to take us to the airport.  Our first week back in Kampala has been rather hectic with trips to doctors and Interpol, selling our furniture to the lady who will be moving into our flat and meeting up with most of our friends. 

It’s almost like we felt we had to cram everything into one week just in case Steve had to dash off.  We know things won’t happen that quickly and intend to spend this weekend in a more relaxed frame of mind.  The idea is for the two of us to enjoy some of our favourite restaurants as it may be the last time we visit them.  That in itself makes us realise how close we are to the end of our time here in Uganda.



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