Category Archives: Uganda

Tuesday is International Women’s Day

I am particiapting in an exhibition in honour of Women’s Day here in Kampala.

These are the photos I have chosen to celebrate  and honour the women of Uganda.

Last year I wrote about the lives and hardships of women in this country. Sadly the facts I documented are still too relevant. You can find the post here.

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Filed under Photography, Uganda

Sleeping in a tent, sunrises and back to school.

 

What a lovely break! My trip to Kenya was a fabulous and inspiring time, the course both proved I was on the right track and at the same time educated and inspired me to go further in my teaching. It was the first face to face course I have taken and hopefully not the last. I think it is imperative that teachers develop professionally, especially if it gives us specific tools to help our students improve.

 

A startling coincidence and proof of a very small world found me at morning tea on the first day of the course. Sitting beside me was the author of an African blog that I read. You should too. She is a teacher,mother, wife, writer and musician and to top it all off a blogger too! And she has lived in Africa all her life. Check her out here.

 

And then I returned and was immediately swept off my feet and into a tent. Camping for two nights beside a most peaceful lake. I cannot stress enough how much I dislike sleeping in a tent. It is claustrophobic, uncomfortable and on this occasion freezing cold, forcing my entire body to cramp up in the position of one who is trying desperately hard to stay warm.

 

However, despite no sleep and fuming with the injustice of a night spent in a tent with fellow campers happily snoring all around me , I must admit that breakfast cooked over an open fire with the sun rising over a lake as still as a mirror is pure magic.  I had two sunrise breakfasts this weekend, and two nights of star gazing. With great company and happy children frolicking in the lake what more could a camper want? Other than a soft bed and a warm duvet.

 

Plus let me not fail to mention that our friends camp in style. We had sushi, Champagne and hot chocolate made from melted Ghiradelli chocolate squares. All well and good.

 

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Filed under Family Stuff, Uganda

Report Bad Driving

Today I offer you glimpses from Uganda roads. I laugh when I think about how strict and controlled our rules and attitudes towards the roads are in The Great Shiny West compared with Uganda. The lawlessness here considering the heavy police presence on the streets is pause for thought. Seat belts? Optional. No kids under 12 in the front seat? Funny one. I see plenty of toddlers bouncing around the front seat not even strapped down by a seat belt.  Passengers limited to the number of seats in the truck/car? Again, amusing. The number of passengers is determined by how many can be squeezed in or even on. Basic rules about overtaking on the left? Changing lanes on a round about? Using an indicator? Indiscriminate horn usage? The quantity of black ugly smog expelled from the exhaust? Again, not relevant. The plan is to get from A to B in one piece. Taking a nap in the back of a truck? Good idea! Why not? By the way that is a large pink pig in the last photo.

In other news the Ugandan General Election is taking place today and our fingers are crossed that everything goes smoothly and safely. The roads will certainly be clearer as the majority of Kampala residents have returned to their villages to vote.

Over in the cyber world another election of sorts is taking place and there are only two days left to vote.  Imagine winning in two different continents! This is my only chance to enter the field of world domination since my childhood dreams of ruling the world never materialized.

If you are a fan, either new or have been visiting for ages, and if you have not yet voted please consider doing so before the February 20th deadline.

Here is the link to this year’s Bloggies. Results will be announced March 1st.

Vote here!

Thank you to all my readers. Drive safe.

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Filed under Uganda

Eyes wide open

I could put up a lot of photos of Kampala and sometimes I do but I also enjoy the challenge of trying to capture what I see with words. On any drive there is a tableau of pictures spread for the taking if one simply keeps eyes wide open.  A drive in Kampala is therefore never dull and even on the most frustrating days there is, for an observer such as myself, poetry on the streets.

Having just dropped Trooper off at a pool party we drove through a neighbourhood inhabited by foreign diplomats and wealthy Ugandans. It is wealthy and yet no houses are visible, since they are hidden behind large metal gates. Before entry is permitted an armed guard, usually a privately employed police officer comes out barring a large AK47 to give us the once over. Driving away we notice other guards carrying guns, either outside of the large residences or walking to and fro to work. The huge police presence here is something we quickly take for granted but every now and again we remark on how many guns we see on a daily basis. Kampala is very safe, generally, but there lies beneath the surface a frisson of instability and it is the heavy police presence that keeps things from snapping and turning mad with violent chaos. This is a country that knows well the price of such violence and they have taken measures to keep themselves safe.

And we drive on, past bare chested men digging deep trenches into the red soil. Fibre optic cables are being laid, a sign of modernism creeping in, slowly but surely. Yet mere metres away people live without running water in a capital city. Access to clean water and health care are basic necessities that the majority hardly dream of. Cables are laid by hand, the soil dug with sweat and strength; bricks laid one by ones, roads fixed inch by inch by hand, this is a place where everything that can be done by hand is done so. Slowly, painstakingly, with bare arms and sweat.

We pass a woman, an enormous basket of bananas resting on her head. She walks with posture that would make a cat walk model jealous yet she is unaware of posture. She has been carrying on her head since she was knee high, this is not a new skill.

A baby lies naked in the mud while his mother fills a Jerry Can from a slow tap, grey sacks filled to splitting with blackest dusty charcoal lie next to him. Two children race another who rolls an abandoned bicycle tire with a stick, women gossip next to wooden planks that shelf pineapples and lettuce. A mother bathes her child with water in a bucket, another slaps clothes against a wooden frame and hangs them to dry and capture more dust.

Then we turn and home is in sight. More guards, more guns and another woman carrying bananas with poise and a determination to sell. We pass a Boda Boda carrying a family of four, the smallest child sits in front of the driver holding onto the handle bars, the wind whipping his short cropped hair. A group of men sit on the grass before a gate chewing sugar cane and talking in earnest.

In a simple 10 minute drive a world is open, but it is not my world. I am the observer, always watching, reading, imagining, wondering.  Eyes wide open I see but can never really know. I am forever the Other.

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Filed under Kampala, Uganda

How many days until the Election of 2011?

Seen in the newspapers this Sunday:

Not a good start if the newspapers can’t agree.

The election will be held on February 18th.  Many people are fleeing the country for the slopes of Switzerland, the wines of Capetown, the cold of England or the plains of Ethiopia. Those that are staying here are stocking up on canned food, water and tucking cash into emergency envelopes. I am buying lots of DVDs and baking chocolate in preparation for long days at home.

I am optimistic that things will be calm and sane. I hope the newspapers sort themselves out. The first editions of the above papers that came out Saturday night read 13 days and 11 days. The Vision (the government sponsored paper) actually corrected itself before Sunday early morning, amending the countdown days to 12.

You’d think the government would know.

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Filed under Uganda

Kampala through the peephole

I often get requests for more photos of Kampala.  People ask: ” what do the streets look like? What about the shops?” I will endeavor to bring supermarket snap shops in the near future but in the mean time here is a glimpse of Kampala, through the peephole.

Here is the neighborhood disco. It might not have the glitz and shine but it certainly has the boom boom.

Hitch a ride on our chairs for free! Honest!

Here is a local convenience store. Airtime, coke, lentils, bread and conversation.

Moonlight Butchery. We ‘ll do it at night. They’ll never know.

All you need is an umbrella and a chair and airtime is good to go.

If we say it is divine; it really is.

 

We are practicing something to do with guns. We use sticks instead of guns and we have no uniforms. But we are still practicing.

Don’t you agree it is better to put all the merchandise on the sidewalk? That way no one needs to come inside, no one needs to advertise. It is all simply there. Window shopping without the windows.

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Filed under Uganda

The end of the year and the start of a long road trip

Two weekends ago I danced on a bar stool and didn’t fall off. It was fun, and rare and since it was  the closing night of what was a fabulous panto, had such a sense of celebration and relief about it. It was a dancing tonic; so much so that now it is my New Year’s Resolution to go out and dance a whole lot more. It is necessary to get out more, feel alive and grab a bar stool to dance upon now and again. I certainly don’t do that enough. So with thoughts of New Year’s resolutions it is time to wrap up 3limes for 2010 and take a short break. Of course it is always tempting to look back on the year in a sort of Top 100 moments flashback series but I won’t. The few highlights that spring to mind start with the extraordinary New year’s eve of last year, spent camping on the Delta in Murchison Falls. Then more trips spring to mind; Lamu, London, Amsterdam. I have been a lucky girl travel wise this year. On the home front the pictures that make me remember and smile tend to involve the girls. Princess on stage in the Sound of Music, both girls as mice in this years Pantomime, Trooper on the soccer field giving it all she has, Princess as Veruca Salt, singing her little heart out despite the fever she was fighting. They are good, happy, thriving,

 

We are heading out on a Road Trip Through Kenya in a few days; in my mind it will be the Road Trip to End All Road Trips. 17 people, 4 cars, 2400km, 5 stops. I will return with a survival tale and photos. I promise.

 

Until then it is time for 3limes to take a little holiday, freshen up and come back more inspired and ready to see things in a new light.

 

Happy Holidays to all.

 

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Filed under personal, Uganda

Christmas Spirit where are you?

I am trying to conjure up some Christmas Spirit and I have found that it is hard to do without chilly snowy weather and shops. Going to the mall, hearing the same looped Christmas music over and over again, standing in endless lines under bright lights choosing between red, silver or gold tinsel and seeing your pale reflection in the shiny orbs hung on huge mall trees might grate on the nerves but it does continually remind you that Christmas is here. In Trinidad, despite the warm weather we never forgot it was Christmas as the whole country gets into the swing of Parang music, Pastelles and shiny ornaments. The Trinis love their Christmas and have built a whole set of traditions and ritual around it. Here it is harder to find spirit. Yes, a few stores have thrown together some tinsel and cheap bright lights, a few plastic trees here and there and some loud piped music but it feels like it is done for the expats and not for themselves. Where I come from Christmas is predominantly materialistic but here materialism does not exist so the Christmassy feeling that generally creeps up on you mid December or in some frustrating years, not at all, is harder to come by here.

So we have poured the favourite Christmas music into the ipod and we sing in the car. The Christmas films are out and tonight we all cuddled up an watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“ Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from the store

perhaps it is a whole lot more.”

A perfectly apt quote for Christmas in Uganda.  But I can feel the spirit sneaking up on me just a little bit. Tomorrow we begin the last week of school; reports are written , shopping lists are being compiled and menus set. Our dear friends are flying in Saturday night and we are all set for wonderful holiday together. It might not be the same as Christmas Over There…in the Great Shiny West, but it will have its own particular spirit created from a mix of music, movies, funny tree decorations, new traditions and friendship.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Uganda

A little quiz to help you on your way

How do you know that you are living in Kampala? And not London or Montreal? Or even Trinidad?

Let’s do a quiz.

You are walking along the road and you trip. Not realizing what caused you to fall, it is early and there was no Baileys in the morning coffee, you look down and see one of the following.

a)     A discarded rum bottle, empty and left to roll inconveniently into the path of pedestrian traffic

b)    A baby goat, sleeping and unaware that his mother has climbed the grassy bank to chomp on some grass

c)     A greasy half eaten slouvaki roll

d)    A huge chunk of ice that has been spat out from under the wheel of a passing car.

You are awoken early in the morning by a strange sound. You have no idea what it is until you lift you head up from under the pillow and remember where you live.

a)     A pack of cats fighting over a pile of flying fish that leapt with no rhyme or reason out of the water and landed in an unfortunate pile in the garden behind the house.

b)    The clanging of metal pots and pans joined with the serenading of a boisterous and horny rooster from the garden next door. Simultaneously there is the distance echo of some China men singing early morning Lionel Richie Karaoke.

c)     The squeaking and lurching of 20 buses that have all arrived at the bus stop at exactly the same time, angering the cold, shivering, commuters who have been waiting for that one bus for the past 42 minutes.

d)    A huge chunk of ice slipping of the roof and crashing onto the roof of your car.

It is a Friday night and you feel like going out for dinner. What do the restaurants have to offer?

a)     A healthy assortment of Chinese, American and Indian. Or, if you like, all the choices under the same roof and possibly rolled into a warm and buttery thick slab of pastry. Either way, everything would be eaten with a chaser of rum and a very loud thumping soundtrack.

b)    Indian, Thai, Indian, Indian and some Pizza. The service will be painfully slow and the waitress will visit your table 4 times in the first 30 minutes before you even order. Once because she didn’t understand the order, once to verify what kind of Gin you want, once for the ice that you had asked for the first time and once more to tell you that there is no Gin and the ice machine is broken.

c)     Anything your heart desires, for a price.

d)    A cosy warm bistro featuring the imaginative creation of one young trendy dude, considered the “latest thing.” His hair will be spiky, the cafe will be warm and feature alternative music and mildly out of focus black and white photographs. There will be just as many people having a cigarette outside in the snow as there are drinking good wine at the bar waiting for a table, ‘cause they don’t take reservations.

Time to go grocery shopping. What do you find?

a)     Hot spices, plenty plenty hot sauce, Amos Chocolate chip cookies, Ribena and Mangos. And rum.

b)    Nearly everything but you will have to go to 4 different stores. One for the eggs with the yellow, not white yolks, one for skimmed milk, one for whole milk, one for cheese, one for chick peas, one for fruit. Oh it goes on and on and on.

c)     Anything your heart desires, for a price.

d)    Everything, in supermarkets with super wide aisles. The music will be muzac but the cheese and bread is good. You will bump into many people you know.

It is Sunday and you have plans for a great day out. What do you do?

a)      Beach. Body surfing in the waves, bake and shark for lunch, Carib beer and friends to lime with. You will go home sticky with salt and sand, sun burnt and happy.

b)      A day spent by the pool with some scrabble on the side.

c)       Well you have the option of the latest offering at a world renown museum, a walk in the park, a bike ride on a Boris Bike, lunch with friends, a stroll by the river or a lazy day at home with a pile of newspapers and some good food. It will be bloody cold.

d)      Skiing, tobogganing, ice skating, movie, brunch, walk the dog on the mountain or home with newspapers and good food. It will be seriously bloody cold.

 

How did you do?

Mostly a)s and you are in Trinidad.

Mostly b)s and you are in Kampala.

Mostly c)s and you are in London

Mostly d)s and you are in Montreal.

 

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, La belle ville, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda

A special season. More Green than Red.

Some places have real seasons like Winter or Spring, or best of all, Autumn with its comforting crunch and startling blue skies set perfectly against a crimson leaf or two.

Here we get rain, or no rain. But the most thrilling and disturbing season of all is Grasshopper Season. It started today like the apocalypse with hoards of grasshoppers flying into my class room, or, when I shut the windows, sticking to the window panes. I had one fly up my skirt, one hit my face and one hop around my desk. I had one student who sadly discovered he has a Grasshopper Phobia and had to return home to sort out what he is to do for the next month. Yes month. For close to 40 days we will be swarmed with flying green creatures, the sports field will be hopping, literally and a cloud of birds will swoop through the skies, hungry for green flesh.

To some this is a pest issue, windshield wipers will get stuck, dead or petrified green bugs will lie on the floor. For others, this is a season of delicious treats for here in Uganda people love to eat the hoppers. Driving downtown cars can conveniently pass through a crowd of vendors ready to open their Tupperware bowls and serve you bags of green or brown crunch. Some people erect tents with lights to capture the critters, all the better to catch and fry.

While some are feeling the first nips of Jack Frost, hearing that Chestnut Song over and over on replay, or fighting through tinsel in the line ups for Mince Pies, I am getting attacked by Grasshoppers.

How did I end up here? Did I fly though a green whirlwind vortex?

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Filed under Being brave, Uganda