Monday, September 27, 2010

Tri it!

Lake Nabugabu in Uganda is a special because it is allegedly the only open water to be Bilharzia-free in Uganda. Finding a swimmer for the Lake Victoria triathlon is always the hardest part of the race;  numerous bribes have to be made to entice people to swim a kilometer in the bilharzia ridden, crocodile infested water. But I did succeed, unfortunately my friend had to back out in the week of the tri because she had Bilharzia. She got the 'snail-fever' (which symptoms mimic Malaria) on our recent fishing trip at the Nile. We then found out another one of the 6 of the fishing trip had got Bilharzia, but I continued to feign enthusiasm for the triathlon and cajoled a swimmer from a local swim club to join our team.

The day of the tri began at 5 am, with a drive to the lush and quiet suburb of Entebbe.I then had a long wait
before I was to run and it became a running joke (!) that I had bilharzia - making excuses for a bad time before I even ran!!I actually introduced myself to the British medic on call, just in case he met me later in the morning!!

More than 100 people were gathered at the sailing club all ready for a fun day out! We did our school proud with a large number of employees taking part. There were tears of frustration, nervous giggling, broken bikes and stolen cameras all before 9am!  My team did a great job and then it was up to me to,lets face it, just get over the finish line! I nervously fumbled to get my chip on and swap bibs before I set off in the heat of the late morning. My chest hurt, my breath was short and I felt nauseous... it took a lot of encouragement from my buddy for me not to jump on a boda-boda to the finish line! Thank goodness there was a beer and a silver medal waiting for me at the end of my leg of the race!

My running buddy and I made a lunch-date today with the doctors to take the Bilharzia test, secretly hoping that it would be positive so that I could justify my recent exhaustion, When we saw the red lines on the panel and the nurse counted out the horse pills we decided we had a valid excuse not to run tonight.

I have heard that tonight, the night of the pills, could be quite rough, but I think that is a small price to pay for the fun of  fishing in the Nile.  I do feel a bit bad for those swimmers on Sunday, including my running buddy, who has to repeat her meds in 5 weeks time! Think I will stick to running!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kooking in Kampala

Kook club is BACK!

I was introduced to the idea of a cook club in Kuwait by my lovely friend Jane. So Jane (head chef), Kirsten, Ange and I would get together and plan the all important theme and menu. Previous themes have been; Asian Fusion, Italian and a weird throw-back to 1960s James Bond Apres Alps (!!the food was just as bad as the outfits!!!) There were rules, of course, in our Kuwait Kook Club, that we religiously followed; only cook something you have never cooked before, take turns cooking the meat dish, always invite a different guest couple and most importantly always invite a single man for Robyn to entertain...I liked that rule the best!!

I then continued this idea in Kampala, with less cooks (as we have smaller apartments) but the same idea. However the other cooks were not that enthusiastic about dressing-up in the theme, so we dropped that. Cooks have left and a new year has brought together a new Kook Club. Now menu ideas have been flying back and forth and we are all educating ourselves on what a Damper is.We are busy drawing up the menus and writing the guest list as well as designing the all important themed costumes! Ready, Steady, Let's Cook!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just thinking...for now.

A beautiful friend of mine was (back) in Kampala for 24 hours this week. We spent the evening catching-up after our favourite yoga teacher helped me get into Crows position for the first time. My beautiful friend is now based in Nairobi; a place I fall in love with more each time I visit. It has all the comforts of the western world, but with Africa on its doorstep. When she works late she can get sushi carry out...imagine the luxury! We talked of the highs and lows of living in the Pearl of Africa. And after laughing over wine, my beautiful friend jumped on her boda-boda and  waved goodbye and I was once again left thinking of all my friends that come and go in Uganda; most living a transient existence here.

Where do I want to be? Friends at home, I'm sure out of love, tell me not to come home (yet!!) due to the shortage of jobs ...they don't need more competition! So today, I have spent my free time on websites of British and International schools in Kenya and Cape Town. My 'plans' change from week to week, so I have just saved them on my "favourites" list...for now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I kid you not!

The Royal Ascot of Kampala was on Saturday- no horses raced, or hens (Mairi) but goats. Organised by the owner of the school I work in, but an event open to all. Good friends of mine (the returnees) arrived by helicopter (apparently I didn't make the weight limit !) and others by boda-boda. Fashion was flaunted; from flip flops and kikoys, to feathered hats and kilts. I got dressed up for my day at the races and was pleased that I brought a hat back from Scotland; I was even interviewed by Ugandan television about it's designer...!! Ha!

The highlight of the day for me was watching the races in the sunshine whilst drinking pink champagne with strawberries. Others were happy to stay in the VIP tent, not worried that they did not see a goat all day.

Billy-the Kid and Goatzilla looked on fine form!
They needed a little encouragement!

A little help from a mattress was needed!

Day turned into night, turned into day again! I am just wondering if the goat races are a good enough reason to stay for one more year!?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sa-far-ri so good.

It has been such a busy term so far at school but an enjoyable one. I have managed to get on my yoga mat twice weekly and am wobbling less (when I stand with both feet on the mat..!!!) and have found a new running buddy; one that speaks to me continuously as we run and doesn't mind if I just huff and puff my replies! And of course-Jane and Sven have returned to their home in Uganda...need I say more!

Saying all this I have found time to plan my next two holidays; surly a  teacher's prerogative! My October and December safaris are now all planned and booked. This was harder than  first imagined; trying to select my favourite places to stay  as well as trying to show my visitors some animals...although I am sure my mum would be quite happy if all she spotted (with binoculars) was a the distance(sorry mum!!).Not that I want to wish my life away or anything, but... I am super excited!

I shouldn't get ahead of myself though, before my safari adventures I have; a girlie pampering session with my dear returnee friend, the Goat races, the Entebbe Tri-atalon (do I sound enthusiastic!!!??), report writing and a camping trip with 40 eight year olds....oh the joys!
The count-down to the holidays has begun!

Bush dining- can't wait to do this in October!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Love

I was having coffee today with a Ugandan friend and we started discussing the 'One Love' campaign in Uganda.The "One love" campaign has got the country talking about fidelity within relationships. We started talking about if people were more likely to have affairs here; (I can only use Uganda in my discussion as I live here) or if it is the same problem all around the world.

Our discussion became heated and he suggested I write something about this in my blog; I am still not sure whether I will be able to do this debate justice, but I will share some thoughts.
The 'One Love' campaign encourages people to "Get Off the Sexual Network" , in very simple and straightforward language, aiming to reach a wide audience in the country. It is blunt and provocative; Get off or die ; being a phrase used in local newspapers. One advert shows a dying man, ill, having "eaten his side dish" (!), a euphemism for a relationship outside a marriage.
So why is moral campaign needed here?
Statistically 1 in 4 men in Uganda will have slept with the same woman.
Scary stuff. So....
Is this unusually high or the norm for every part of the world?

Well- I really don't know that answer to this. I did try to search the Internet; you usually find all the answers there...but funnily enough 'infedility statistics" didn't come up with many results!
I think it seems that more people are unfaithful in Uganda. There are many reasons for this:

One is that Kampala is a bit of a fish bowl, so everyone knows everything; there are no secrets or hiding places. Maybe people are better at hiding their secrets in other parts of the world! What is the saying..."don't pee in your own backgarden"-very appropriate for here!
Another reason is the rising disposable income in Uganda. It is joked that here that the more money a man has, the more erections he gets. Quite a thought!
And the other, more controversial reason, is because it is more "acceptable" here to have "side dishes".

I don't want to generalise, but this is what I have seen here..and this is my blog! I am speaking of male/female relationships because... this is Uganda after all. I have spoken to Ugandan friends of mine, males and females, and for many it is just the norm that the male in the "relationship" will have other partners. This is just part of life. It may not be what the female would like to happen, but is accepted and part of the deal. Men and women are not equals in life or in the relationship. I can't even say that it is because of lack of respect, as I really don't think that that would be true, it is just the way it is.

Maybe I am naive and this happens all over the world, but I don't think it happens to the extent that it happens here in Uganda. I can't think of any morality campaigns that I have seen in the UK, encouraging fidelity. The 'One Love' campaign is not about encouraging the use of condoms but encouraging serial monogamy. The sexual health campaigns in UK are generally based on giving young people information about protecting themselves. In Scotland at the moment they are encouraging you try the 'beer goggles' test, to see things which are not obvious at first. The fight against HIV in Uganda is a world success story, but there are (a high estimate of) 1.1 million people living with HIV in Uganda; teenage girls are more worried about getting pregnant than catching STDs. Perhaps Ugandan should start a different type of campaign.

Is there an answer? Well-I can't remember the question..can you!!??

Is this a problem every country faces? I think the idelity campaign "One Love" just makes you more aware of what is going on around you.Maybe Ugandan needs a new sexual health campaign; one that doesn't give men (sorry-men!) the idea of having "side-dishes". Just like when you teach, you don't say, "now don't eat the play dough" -duhhh, now they will eat it!!

Some say the campaign is not working because it has been oversimplified. It has been successful getting people talking though!

What do you think?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Most Beautiful Shoes in the World.

Once upon a time, I lived in Kuwait. I earned a substantial amount of money and I also spent a substantial amount of money... on pretty things- Mulberry bags, Kurt Geiger shoes and dresses from Reiss. Oh how I loved dressing in my pink sparkly shoes or my polka dot dress.

Those days are, for the time being, over. My bags are in dust covers and I wear Africa-friendly clothes, namely; Jesus sandals and shorts. Oh, apart from last night, at an art exhibition, where I received a compliment (or what I think was one, it was hard to tell, because it came from a man!) saying that I looked good, very "London-fashion" ....yes, I was wearing shorts...but I did have heels on- quite the novelty!
I am reminded of my old fashion-loving self every now and again when an e-mail arrives into my account to announce the new collection for this or that. These e-mails are usually deleted before they are opened,I remind myself that it would not be fair for such items of beauty to be brought to Africa, where they would be  couped-up in a cupboard (that, and the fact that having an empty purse makes it much harder to buy pretty things). But recently I have been spending many hours gazing at the most beautiful shoes in the world.  My favourites...well I have so many, but aren't the VICENZA C - INDI CASTAƑO divine...and soooo practical for Uganda!!!
Yesterday I had to par-take in some retail therapy to get over the most beautiful shoes in the world. I came back with a bunch of flowers!
Next weekend I am getting all dressed up for the Ascot of Kampala; The Goat Races. I have a hat and a pretty dress and on my feet I will be wearing...flip flops!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My first fishing trip

I am just recently back from great weekend away at the Hairy Lemon, previously known as the 'Itchy' Lemon, because of the local residents; the Tsetse flies.

Great news!  It is now under new ownership and the showers have improved,  the flowers are brighter and the Tsetse flies are better behaved! Dettol was religiously plastered all over my body and it seems to have done the trick. My last stay I was busy (not) scratching my sores! This weekend I was able to spend my time making jugs of Pimm's, taking photographs and cuddling puppy Mag...I only manged  to read one line in my book. I also cast my flirst ever fishing line.

Unfortunatly only one fish was caught from the Nile over the weekend and we are questioing if there is a link to the industrial strength Dettol! The said  fish was then thrown back into the river, deemed too small to feed the 6 of us, however when nothing else took the bait and we went hungry we regretted our rash decision!
This weekend my friends and I also set our 'school year resoulutions'; one being to have more weekends away. Fingers crossed Eid is on Friday and I get to go to Sipi Falls for the long weekend!

The Hairy Lemon

Camping Essentials!

There was not 'mush-room' in Stacy's tent for the both of us!!!

Fishing in the River Nile

Even Mag was exhausted after her first camping experience!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Loafing Around

It is my monthly book club meeting tonight. We are an all-female club, so it is surprising that we generally stay focused and only talk about the selected book. If our mouths are not full of words, then they are full of nibbles and treats that members bring along to share. We are not competitive about the dishes we share, but the bar was raised when one member cooked an Indian feast when we met to discuss The God of Small Things. At tonight’s meeting we are discussing Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand (a book that I found unmemorable, but that is by the by) and it is also the host’s birthday. Rather than take another cake, as I am sure there will be plenty, I decided to try something new. I followed a simplified version of a recipe that was found in a well-known grocery store’s magazine.

I say ‘simplified’ as I don’t have any weighing scales. I like to think of myself as a bit of a Keith Floyd in the kitchen; count to 3 elephants and that is a splash of wine etc. The recipe went something like this:

Goats Cheese and Pesto Loaf

  • 100g of goats cheese -as this is weighed accurately at the deli, use this to help judge the weight of all the other ingredients!
  • 225g of butter
  • 50g of caster sugar – I would say that is about 4 elephants!
  • 200g of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsb of baking powder - thank goodness there is something I can accurately measure! Bugger… I don’t have any baking powder!
  • 4 large eggs…if one fall on the floor and breaks, you can use 3…it seemed to work just as well!
  • 3 tsb of pesto
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pine nuts and olive oil –drizzle on when serving (hahah – good luck finding those!

Beat the butter and sugar together, and then add flour, eggs, baking powder and salt. Crumble the cheese and fold into the mixture. Swirl in the pesto.

Bake in an oven that feels hot and when you start to smell burning, the loaf needs to be taken out of the oven. Don’t let it get to the stage where 3 fire engines rush to the scene…then it has defiantly been in for too long! My loaf took about 35 minutes..


Monday, September 6, 2010

The grass is always greener, the air is always cleaner

I have not quite settled into my Kampala routine yet. I think I am trying hard to fight it. In the staffroom at school we joke that we have been so busy with; assessments, meet the in-laws night (I mean parents!) and teaching, that we have not had time to have our usual pedicures that make us function in the developing world a little bit more easily! I have not even managed to squeeze in a tennis lesson and only once have I been doing the down-ward dog (in yoga!) on a Saturday morning! It must have been a tough few weeks!

Although I enjoy all of these things once in a while, I think I got my fill of the 'good life' in Kuwait. Not the Tom and Barbara tomato growing, chicken farming 'good life', more like Margot's life;  manicures, flashy cars and lunches.

So now, I would rather get out of the city. I am busy booking accommodation for both my October and December safaris and I haveLacam Lodge  on speed-dial on my phone...just in case we get a long weekend for Eid!

Technical Difficulties!

It has been pointed out to me that readers cannot comment on my blog postings. The "it's not you, it's me" phrase comes to mind! After spending hours last night on my 'settings',  the problem is still not solved. An annoyance and a shame, but not the end of the world. You can always e-mail me a comment by clicking on the envelope below the posting...or just e-mail me to say 'hello'!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Creature Uncomforts

I am having a quiet Friday night and it is bliss!
I am quite content tinkering on my blog and listening to some new music that friends have recommended. My biggest decision tonight is whether to sit through yet another episode of American tripe (even though the acting is dire, it is a tempting option) or to start a new book. I think I will do the later! I  must also pack for my weekend-away camping.
 This camping outing is one that I may regret by Sunday evening; the reason being, the dreaded Tsetse Fly. I am not worried about getting ill, but the last time I went camping to this particular small island on the Nile, I returned to the city with sores all over my body. It ruined my Rabbie Burns evening; I missed 'To a Haggis' as I was busy in the bathroom, armed with a pencil, scratching my skin away!
This camping trip I am taking better precautions; Detol (this wiped all over my body will keep more than flies away!!) Claratine pills and lots of lots alcohol (if all else fails, I hopefully will still get some sleep!). Don't feel sorry for me, I treated myself to a bottle of Pimms and I am going to drink it while I am fishing in the Nile. Surely a few flies won't spoil my fun..!!!???
I'll let you know!