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Uganda Retrospective Our thoughts, experiences and photos from six months as volunteers for the Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda.

Visitors and More Visitors

UGANDA | Friday, 4 August 2006 | Views [549]

Local kids watching the bird watchers

Local kids watching the bird watchers

We have had more visitors in the past 3 days than in the past 3 months.  The Busingiro area is a major destination for bird watchers from around the world.  Monday afternoon a couple from Capetown arrived in their pick-up camper to do some birding.  I had an immediate flashback to Rocinante, Steinbeck’s home-on-wheels in “Travels with Charlie”.  They have been modifying it for five years though it will never achieve perfection.  That’s the way we campers are! They have driven as far north as possible through Zambia and Tanzania and will return through Malawi and Mozambique.  It’s quite a trip in the converted Land Rover.  But these are not the “real adventurers”. 

Along the way, they met a couple from Australia who are traveling on a Harley Davidson.  Before they began their trip they registered the engine and chassis serial  numbers and have now covered 450,000 kilometers and visited 168 countries on the same Harley.  Their goal is all 190-something nations recognized by the United Nations!  And we whinge about a rainy ride to Masindi….. check them out through Google: Forwood is the name.  Explorer’s Club material I should think.

We checked in with Kara at Kinyara yesterday.  She is the only white woman on Kinyara, the others have sought safe haven from the strikers in Kampala.  She is staying with Richard who is weak but improving. Jack (GM) McLean has brought in private security police to keep order until thinks are settled but no one is permitted entry just now.

More campers, also from South Africa arrived and took Vincent to the “Royal Mile”.  They also live in Capetown and have their three boys in tow. So much for peace and quiet for a while.  They didn’t object to the prices nor to the booking surcharge but refused the 1900/= exchange rate opting for 1850/=, a saving of $1.50 – hardly worth arguing over.

At dinner time in rolls a bus with a group of students and their chaperones from the U.K.  They got a late start from Masindi where they are building a school nearby and wouldn’t be able to reach Nile Safari Camp before dark – nor could they afford it.  Connie called New Court on the off-chance Sally had 13 beds but no luck there.  So they are bedded down on the floor in the education center and cooking in the pavilion avoiding the freshly painted floor.  I guess Stephanie doesn’t have to know.  We’ll chalk it up to good PR and a desire for us muzungu volunteers to stick together.  But I suspect it will be an earplug night. 

We each had a restless night, no wonder. The baboons barked off and on, probably sensing a leopard on the prowl and it was warm and muggy and perhaps we ate too much pasta.  On top of which it was a hectic day, the last class day for this term. 

I got up early on Friday to make sure our unexpected company cleared out on time.  They invited us to join them at Nile Safari Camp, a nice gesture, but we passed.  They did make a 10,000/= donation to A,V, and P which I guess was appreciated, but I heard no “asantes”.  Vincent went to “Royal Mile” with an elderly (actually my age) single woman birder.  She impressed me, traveling alone from her home in Zurich where she is known as “our crazy aunt”, but says she has gotten used to it. 

While Amnon and I taught the morning session the three South African boys audited the class.  Rupert, the eldest, reminds me of my nephew Tyler at 13, the same angelic face, but unlike my nephew, he is already a serious birder.  Amnon, by the way, taught classification for the first time and added a few very good tricks that we have noted and will incorporate.

Another couple from Switzerland, arrived at lunch time and as the weather was threatening they opted to watch and photograph the afternoon session rather than bird so Vincent got another chance to teach.  Vincent and Amnon have turned out to be much better than I expected or even hoped and I wonder if they can pick up from here next term.  Next to arrive was a group from Makwere University School of Eco-tourism but their NFA guides handled them.  Ronnie from Masindi who is trying to get an Eco-tourism internship came once again.  I hope something works out for him.  He’s a nice kid and very persistent.  Lotsa pasta for supper.  The fridge is getting empty and there is lots of room on our shelves so the end must be near.

Neither of us is anxious to do anymore riding so Vincent is doing the school pick-ups and Masindi errands today.  He may as well get used to it.  After a bath I expected a quiet day while Amnon finished the painting. But our U.K. kids returned for a picnic and a forest walk and Joffa delivered the rest of the furniture.  Not unexpected considering Africans’ lack of attention to detail, the glass is covered with varnish, there are obvious flaws in the work and the locks don’t function – not a Norm Abram project for sure.  But that’s the last tick on our list assuming Vincent gets the passenger seat on the bike.  As the Lone Ranger said. “Well, Tonto, our work here is done.  Hi, ho, Silver”

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