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Published: April 10th 2007
Hello again! There's so much to tell, and judging by the speed of this computer most will have to remain until I get home. It hasn't even been a week since my last blog yet so much has happened I feel we have been away for months. The Kabale part of our visit was rounded off by an extraordinary partnership ceremony which was like a mix of cabaret -cum -prize giving, in which our "blessed Liz headmistress" was called upon to pray for the students. We were given gifts (personalised t shirts bearing the crests of both institutions) & certificates of attendance, and Twino and Liz swapped UK / Uganda flags. (Earlier, Phil had been wearing our Union Jack round his shoulders in a Tebbet/football hooligan style!) Everyone here has been incredibly generous to us; Liz, Susie, Karina and I were invited to tea at Enid's house and were given samosas and sarong -style cloths to wear as skirts (so now we are fit to go to church), and later Liz and I were given prints of Edward's work. Enid lives next door to Penninah, and their children, when put together, form a decent choir - they performed several songs
for us (another lump in throat moment). Karina was delighted with the welfare of her hens who had spent the night (unbound) in P's house being fed on rice and water, and are now scratching around in her garden until Peter builds them a coop at the nursery.
On Sunday I got up early to see Mike off (he's going to a wedding in Australia and it's weird to lose one of our party now we're all so close) and after breakfast (fresh fruit, sweetish toast, eggs, thermos of hot water and tin of coffe) we went to lovely Lake Bunyoni (stunning scenery, like Austria mixed with Sri Lanka) and were taken by canoe to island Byoona Amagara. Putting up our tents was a rare sight - some had no poles, and others no pegs, various people became 'helpless', and there was much screeching - and not just from students this time. Had a splendid afternoon's bird-watching - too many exotics to list but chief among them must be the pin-tailed wydah, the bee-eaters, long-tailed sunbirds, pied kingfishers, fish eagles and mousebirds. (Liz and I behaved quite retentively, consulting our books and making a complete list in the bar in the evening) It probably wasn't one of my best ideas to race our canoe (me, Liz, Phil) against one containing Natalie, Tony and Mooney - but it was great fun, and we won.
We have just returned from Queen Elizabeth game park where we went next - in the Bushenyi region. This time we were pitching tents among families of warthogs, comical creatures - the male's tusks are on sideways, and were visited by a hippo or two (really). A lioness roared in the night, and the whole air was alive with chirruping cicadas and other things which hiss and whistle (not to mention Tony's snoring). The early morning game drive rewarded us with sight of a young, female leopard (!) who mooched about for 10 mins or so before walking into the bush nonchalantly. We are now expert identifiers of Ugandan Kob, Defassa water buck, impala, elephant, buffalo, baboons and the ubiquitous warthog (alas no pangolin yet). Best for me was the afternoon's chimp tracking where Jack, our guide (armed) took 8 of us deep into Kyambura gorge and the jungle bordering DRC (it was like being in one of those films about Vietnam). The humidity was extreme and after a couple of hours' walking we were steaming and dripping nicely. Early on we were treated to b&w Colobus monkeys and eventually chimpanzees - it was well worth the sweat, and the bites from the black ants which got inside our trousers, to see the fellows with whom we share 98.7% DNA. There is so much more, including running out of petrol and having to acquire some black market diesel, but some students want to shift me from this machine so it's time to sign off for now.
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