Monthly Archives: June 2011

Farewell Uganda

The day has arrived. The past week has been quite wonderful with dinners and breakfasts and coffee breaks spent with good friends. It has been a slow but soulful goodbye and I feel happy and ready to depart. Of course my mind swings back to the last farewell, two years ago, when we said goodbye to Trinidad.

I am absolutely sure that I will come back, I am already day dreaming about a visit next year.

In the mean time it is time to bid this great land farewell.

And 3limes will be taking a short break too. I am boarding a plane for Bahrain today, then a short week later I will hit London for the weekend. Finally on July 3rd we arrive in Montreal! It has been a long two years since we were home and I intend to have a splendid summer both lake side and in la belle ville.

See you later, Uganda, and thank you.

 

 

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Filed under Being brave, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda

Last days

Tearful, celebratory, funny and warmhearted, these last few days. And through it all I feel a huge sense of accomplishment, relief and bittersweet feelings about moving. Leaving is hard and in the past few days I have, again, said more goodbyes than most would in a life time.

When Handsome left some 3 1/5 months ago I looked at the mountain of tasks before me and thought it would never be possible. And now I have climbed that mountain and am free wheeling down the other side, I am aware that I am stronger than I thought I was.

I have done it all.

Marked the exams, written the reports, packed up the house, wiped the tears, clapped my hands, cheered for my girls, hugged my students, tried not to cry, failed and cried, sold the car, paid the bills, dined with good friends, said goodbye to the Nile, went to Jinja, filed the paperwork, danced, said some very hard goodbyes.

And I watched as the entire Year Ten stood on their chairs and clapped in my farewell assembly.

I was royally roasted and made fun of at the leaving teacher’s function. Created by this clever lady, all my quirky anti camping, cockroach freak out, pedicure loving, car crashing princess tendencies were caricatured and made hilarious in the skit prepared and acted out by a few talented staff members. Of course the show was stolen by my impersonator, the lovely leggy, hard as steel, Aussie MALE PE teacher who donned a short dress, heels and feather boa, all in the name of Theatre. He took it, went with it and made us all laugh, rather than cry.

The next morning, despite a night of dancing and tequila I was up and in the car driving to Jinja. A last little jaunt out of town where the girls could swim with best friends, play mini golf, wash off the worries of moving and feel free and glee.

And now two more days….then Bahrain.

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Filed under Being brave, Miss Teacher, Photography

10 things I love

Just because, why not? It is healthy to focus on the positive and the lovely, especially during times of change, upheaval and boxes.

And before we begin I should quickly say that the list below, comes of course after the following:

Handsome, Trooper, Princess, Marks and Spencer’s, Sushi, my iphone and London taxis.

1. Getting lost in a sensual, evocative film and wishing it could never end. I love the movies so much it is quite an obsession, so much so that I have always told new parents that in my mind it is the only notable sacrifice to having children. Babies will impinge on that bi-weekly movie habit. When I was a teenager I remember taping Bunuel’s Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie onto a VHS tape and storing it safely in a box so I could always have it near. Thereafter I started my Truffaut habit and it just moved on from there. In another life I would be studying film.

2.My Mulberry.

It is extremely beautiful and makes me wondrously happy everyday. I shouldn’t have, because it was simply too extravagant for words, but I am so glad I did. My handbag fetish is now appeased and quietened for sometime, this is because I was hunting and finally found perfection.

3 .The sea.

Looking at it, smelling it, walking beside it, swimming in it. It is the place I am happiest.

4 .Shoe shopping. Shoes make me very jolly, and you don’t need to worry about fitting into them. Luckily for my bank balance there is no shoe shopping in Kampala. Scary for my bank balance is that Bahrain has many a yummy shoe shop. But my dreamiest shoe shop is in Montreal; it is called Scarpa and is in Westmount.  I am day dreaming about it now, even that makes me happy.

5. A hike in the woods. I am not a fan of exercise but a good walk outdoors somewhere very pretty and wild makes me very happy.

6. Teaching Shakespeare or an obscure but wonderful poem and the class just gets it, Bingo. Makes me happy every time.

7. Taking a near perfect photograph. It doesn’t happen very often but it does give the best sense of achievement.  Looking at a great photograph taken by someone else gives me the same thrill.

8. The National Gallery, London.

How lucky was I to have compulsory scheduled Art History lectures in the National Gallery? And I still love walking through those hallowed halls. You could say it is as close as possible to a church, for me.

9. The post meal conversation. Picture the scene. Great friends sitting together, the meal is over, the wine glasses still full. The cigarettes are lit and the candles low yet flickering. The night is deep and slow and there is no reason the get up early the next day. The moment is still and perfect. Memories are being made.

10. Princess and Trooper are happily busy with friends, or horses or any such fun. The house is ours, quiet and alone and rare.

Thanks to Belgian Waffle for the excellent idea.

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Kampala: ground and sky

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Martyrdom at the jaws of a Tsetse

Our 24 hours by the Nile was touched with magic, the elephants, the children squealing with glee in the pool, the rose tinted Nile at sunset. But there was also a cloud in this silver time and that was a cloud of Tsetse flies. I am notorious for attracting biting bugs and I am famous for having nasty reactions. But this time takes the cake. There have been stories of fleas, bed bugs and other Tsetses but the beastly attack I suffered this time makes me a true Martyr to the bite.

They must have got me pool side, when I was lapping up rays and laughing in the splash of the jumping beans. At one point I thought there was something trapped inside my suit and biting me ferociously while trying to get out. But no. It or they had bitten me through my suit and only later in the shower did I see the large welts all over my thighs, back and bottom.

All night I raged with the pain of itching. I tossed and turned and prayed for day light. Then I was up at first light and stumbled to the reception of the lodge. I could hardly walk, I was numb and felt poisoned by my chewed flesh.

They fetched a doctor and I was administered a steroid injection and a heady dose of 4 antihistamines. So heady in fact that I spent the next three hours sleeping them off by the pool and getting bitten by more Tsetses. I needed my own special hero to drive my car all the way home.

Why do they love me so?

p.s I have just been informed by WordPress’ handy informer that this post is the 365th post on 3limes. Quite a journey! From Trini tales of Doubles, Maracas and Carnival to Montreal summers, London summers, Kampala days and Ugandan outback stories.

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A Hero’s day and a Safari Swan Song

It is Hero’s day here in Uganda and that means a bonus day off. I assume this day is in honour of real war heros or those who are celebrated for the part they played in the history and freedom of their country. Or perhaps we could take the time to consider all the real heros in this world who selflessly give up mountains of time to dedicate their lives for the well being of complete strangers. Okay I tip my hat to those variety of heros. Done. But to be completely honest with you I feel a bit like a hero at this moment and I am taking this bonus day off as a celebration of myself and all the heroic feats I am accomplishing this week, last week and the two weeks to come.

As you might have noticed there has not been a whole lot of blogging recently. However there has been a whole lot of marking and report writing and yearbook editing and adolescent rearing and photography club exhibition preparing and clothes sorting and sorting through the bureaucracy of car selling.

And there has been this: ( for all Heros deserve their just reward.)

Last week there was another national holiday here and this one was called Martyrs Day. We celebrated it with a day up north on the banks of the wild Nile, sipping wine to the tune of Hippo grunting, jumping into the best pool ever and gazing over the sunbaked stretch of stormy water waiting for the majestic sun to set. It felt a bit sneaky and spoilt driving 4 hours north for 24 hours just because. We wanted the Nile, one last time, and we wanted it with good friends in some luxury. And it delivered. We even squeezed in one last game drive and a squeeze it was. There were 9 of us shoved, sardine like, into a car intended for 7 and the windows had to stay sealed shut due to the extraordinary quantity of Tsetse flies swarming us. More on those later, my tale of martyrdom at the hands of a Tsetse still to come.)

One of the passengers in the car was the UWA ( Uganda Wildlife Authority) Ranger who was there to show us the way and hopefully find us some animals. As is customary for all rangers he came bearing his gun, well slung over his shoulder. Not wanting to be difficult, yet conscious of the small baby who would be sitting next to said gun, and all the other children in the car, I did ask, politely whether it as absolutely necessary for the gun to come along.

“Oh don’t worry Madam, this gun is very friendly!” He replied, big smiles all round.

And friendly it was. It remained cold and unwanted, un touched and nearly forgotten on the floor of the car. Still, a gun, friendly? I smell an oxymoron.

We drove, in the steamy car, shut up like sardines we were, breath pressed against glass, bottoms on laps on chairs, and we peered longingly out of the window looking for animals. This side of Murchison is not known for its Wildlife, it is densely forested with no savannah for cats to bound, hunt and pounce. Still we spotted three giraffes through the trees, one a triangle as it bent, head between legs to drink. Then we saw a group of highly suspicious buffalo who wagged ears and flicked tails worriedly as we stopped to look. Then much excitement as Princess yelled “Reverse the car! I saw something in the grass!” It was a turtle. Yes, a turtle.

Tired and dreaming of a sunset sundowner we turned to go back to the welcoming arms of our lodge. Never mind, we hadn’t been lucky this time.

“One last turn!” The ranger with the friendly gun, called out from the back seat.

So we did. One last turn, just seconds from the gate of the lodge. How could it hurt? Just 5 more minutes of squashed bums.

And then we saw it. And elephant crossing the road right in front of us. I saw his trunk first, then his ears, as he crossed through the foliage on one side and loped over to the other. “ He must be coming back from the river,’ we whispered.

And then another and another and another. And they just kept coming, one after the other until the road before us was grey with massive elephant, the wonder of it filling the space before us. Some smaller, and even babies, clustered in the comfort of their mothers and some enormous, old grandfathers grandmothers, the great, the old, the brave returning from their Nile bath. There must have been 50 elephants passing in front of us, this was the greatest elephant sighting so far in Uganda, and this, my safari swan song.

Then a maternal beast, shoving the bottom of her baby with her trunk come out from the trees and spotted us. She turned, lifted one thick foot as if to charge, raised her trunk in anger and flapped her enormous flag like ears.

“Reverse, Now!” called out our ranger. “She is not pleased.”

And so we did. For a bit before we felt brave enough to approach a little closer, again, after a time. One more, than another crossed before us. One with a “fifth leg” as the children called it, I thought “ oh the trunk of the one behind is between that one’s legs!”

But it wasn’t. He was just a little frisky. The ranger laughed and called it his “Roucka!” The girls giggled.  The boys blushed.

And then home to our lodge, filled to the brim with the magic of what we had seen.

And time to watch the sunset from the porch of our tent, perched over the Nile so the water was the music of our night.

Oh Africa. Oh Africa.

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