Tag Archives: trees

A Bonus Sunday, overpriced Christmas trees and rainy days.

A rare treat: a Sunday at home, no work, courtesy of the Islamic New Year.  Happy New Year and welcome to the year 1433.

Not only was it a bonus Sunday but that meant the first Saturday night in months and a Sunday night that felt like a proper, night before the start of the week, Sunday night. Complete with eggs on toast and a side offering of baked beans.

Of course it also meant a 3 day weekend.

And well deserved it was too, after a week that culminated in a day and a half of parent teacher interviews. I was a little worried about getting all the Mohamed’s, Ali’s and Fatima’s straight. I think I did ok, considering that I have about two in each class. One thing I did notice is that the parents were most kind, very grateful to us teachers and that the mothers have an uncanny ability to lift their hands up considering the heavy bling.

This weekend saw more rain. Damp, flat, grey weather that reminded me of a London day in July. I loved it. And I have to risk the removal of my Canadian passport when I confess that despite being 18 degrees Celsius, it actually felt quite cool. Yes, I thought exactly the same thing when people told me it would feel cool. Are said “ are you mad?” I am a Canadian. I have lived in Winnipeg ( better known as Winterpeg in some parts). There is no way I will feel cold, ever, without serious frost bite chomping on my cheeks. But I guess 4 years of heat stroke will do that to you.

Ok it felt cool, not cold and I was just appreciating the seasons, that’s all.

Speaking of seasons….I have wondered about Christmas in the desert. How is it possible? And a Muslim desert, no less. But believe it or not, it is not even December and Muslim desert or not, the malls are top to toe in wreaths, garlands, tinsel and trees. I asked some of my students what the hell was going on and they replied that it was just another theme. And an excuse to shop. And eat out. And party.

So I guess Christmas spirit in all its materialistic glory will find its way to the Sandy Isle.

And here is the first evidence. Turns out you can get real Xmas Trees here. In my naivete I thought that meant there was a place tucked away in a green house that grew them. But no. They are flown in at great expense both to the customer and the environment. Exhibit one:

 

The smallest tree is $87.50 and that is for 1.5 metres. And the largest is a whopping $3.10 for 4 metres.

I guess we are sticking with the straggly, anemic, dwarf tree we bought in Kampala.

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Filed under Family Stuff, I miss shopping.

Easter eggs and Dodo brains

We are nearly there: The flight takes off tomorrow afternoon and before long we will be one family again, in the same place, sharing the same hug. I love the closure of end of term: asking where everybody is going, hearing the exciting travel plans. One friend is going to run the Two Oceans Run in Cape Town; another is going Gorilla Trekking, another to a wedding on the beach, another welcoming family and showing off Uganda. And we are going to see where our new life will be and put some footprints in Bahraini sand.

I promise to take my camera and bring back some photos to share.

Just for the fun of the things and because it is the end of term and there is that wonderful feeling of my desk looking a bit tidier than usual I thought we should have a little visit with the search engines.  How are you all ending up here chez 3limes?

peeing chimps

Those people who are planning on spending some time chimp trekking in Kibale might just experience the joy of being peed on by a chimp. For the very lucky folk, the chimps come down off the trees and sit quietly in a circle picking lice out of each other’s hair. But for us we had the special joy of craning our necks way high to stare at dark shadows in the tree tops and enjoying the spectacularly frequent splashes of pee. They pee, a lot and all the time. The amount is akin to having a large bucket dropped from a great height over and over again.

tree that spread her roots by the river is?

I think you are the same poetic lovely who searched for twisted tree roots. I think we should meet, hug trees, lay down by the roots and have a picnic. I picture a large willow tree that leans precariously yet determinedly towards a running brook. The water is dappled with broken sun light, the poet Rupert Brooke has flung himself upon a field nearby and is tousling his lover’s mane in his bare, strong hands.

dodo brain

That would be me. I am the one who owns the dodo brain, so welcome, come in and take a look. The evidence is clear. I very nearly forgot my niece’s birthday today thinking the 21st is a date more apt for a birthday than the 20th, though after 11 years I should have known. I slipped up and forgot it was my class assembly and only found out an hour before we were due to go on stage. I owed them a lot of chocolate after that performance. I lost my passport while all the time it was sitting on a book beside my bed, I went out for dinner last night with my bag and wallet, phone and lipstick and not one cent of money. I pride myself on holding it all together and keeping my memory intact. But recently the hard drive has been full up there and things have been leaking out. See now, I can hardly remember all the other mistakes I have made and I am sure there are plenty. So if you were looking for the brain belonging to the long deceased Dodo bird then you might want to go to google images. Here it is all dodo brains and worry.

Ta ta for now, holiday people. Enjoy those Easter eggs. We have Neuhaus eggs in our fridge which is a treat from the Great Shiny West and one that exceeds excitement.  In the land where chocolate tastes of sour milk even a Cadbury cream egg would have made us jump but Neuhaus? A box of delightfully wrapped coloured mini eggs?

Too much fun.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Great Big Shiny West, Uganda

Safari Day 6: Chimps and time to go home

We woke up before sunrise in anticipation of our chimpanzee tracking expedition in Kibale Forest. A candle lit breakfast awaited us in the dining room of the lodge and we ate facing the crater lake, watching the sun rise as we sipped our coffee.



Kibale forest is home to the greatest number of chimps in Eastern Africa. There are also 13 other primate species, 4 of which are nocturnal. The ride from the lodge to the Forest took about an hour and passed through tea plantations, and crater lakes that sat still in the morning light as thick as skin on warm milk.

 

A $200 walk through a forest is an enormous amount of money but for the chance to see chimps in the wild it is money well spent. With two guides and a couple of Dutch travellers we set off at 8 am, trousers tucked into socks, rain jackets on and plenty of water in our possession. I walked through thick sludgy mud, camera in hand, across twisted roots, careful not to trip and land in an undignified and muddy heap on the path. Tracking it certainly was as we stopped at intervals to listen for the call of chimps or to observe knuckle prints, still fresh in the mud. Chimps sleep in nests, a different one each night and they feed predominantly on figs so we walked head up looking skywards for any dark shadows or moving shapes in the trees.



(this is a baboon.)

(these are the tracks of Chimp Knuckles. We knew we were on the right track!)

(Twisted and creeping tree root.)

(Chimp nest.)

(these are the figs that are sucked and then thrown on the ground by the feeding chimps.)

 

The sounds in the forest, as we walked in silence, were a cacophony of bird and monkey calls and as the heat took over from the coolness of the early morning the air became filled with the fresh but sticky scent of figs, warm mud and life pulsating all around us, Butterflies darted about, stopping on moist leaves, red berries and the odd splash of colour in the form of a flower. Suddenly our guides told us to look up and there almost 50 metres above us were 10 chimps, some grooming on a branch, but most happily eating figs and throwing down the remnants below as we dodged the fat fruits like soggy pelants. We hoped and prayed that at least one would come down, at least a bit closer to us, but since they were happily feeding and were still cool up high in the trees there was no reason to come down and put on a show for a few tourists eager to see them up close. Unlike monkeys, chimps cannot jump and despite being able to swing happily between branches they come down to walk, or run from one tree to another. The closest we got to them was when we had to move aside quickly to avoid the splash from their pee. And pee they did! They suck fig juice most of the day so there is a lot of liquid to dispose of and any unsuspecting person below would find his or her shoulder or even head wet from chimp pee. After waiting some time in vain for them to come down we left for another corner of the forest where there were reports, via the guide’s walky-talky of other chimps in trees. We found two large males contentedly sitting as high as they could sucking figs and enjoying the view.




 

After 3 and a half hours of walking, tracking and craning our necks we knew that this was as good as it was going to get. I think that the lions of Ishasha used up all of our luck for this week. The glimpse I got of the chimps was enough to make us want to return for another try, another time.

 

It was back to the lodge for a last languorous lunch before the 4 hour drive back to the dusty world of Kampala.

As if we hadn’t had enough road drama for one trip we had one more bad experience on the way home. Driving with our driver through the dark about 2 hours from Kampala we hit and killed a dog. Almost immediately myself, Trooper and Princess burst into tears and by the time we sse stopped at a police block, minutes later, the back seat of the car was a scene of misery.

 

I didn’t think it would be possible to bond our family even further but this trip has tightened the bonds between us like moving up a notch on a belt. It has been a trip of memories, extraordinary sightings, disaster and joy. The adventure will continue as we plan to spend the eve of December 31st in a tent on the Delta of Murchison falls, a place where animals roam wild and we will sleep amongst them with nothing between us but a thin sheet of nylon.

 

Oh Africa.


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