Wednesday, 21 February 2018

My 1st Mini Getaway in 2018: Gloria The Hippo & Murchison Falls National Park ( Part 2)

Day 2

Tent number 7, my home until tomorrow.

Last night I sat by the fire getting acquainted with my new travel companions. The Red Chilli Staff also informed us about Gloria, the resident hippo who just had baby. Actually what they really did was give us a stern warning. They warned us that late night trips to the toilet may result in a serious casualty if we didn't mind our way carefully.

So at 5.30am my bladder is full and merciless pleading to be relieved. But I dare not leave my tent. Can you imagine them talking at my funeral?

"On her way to the toliet, attacked by a hippo, they found her lying in her own pee.."

We shall wait bladder, we shall wait.

At 6.00am torch in hand, I dash to the communal bathrooms, pee for what seems like the longest time on record, shower,then return to the tent to get ready for the day's activities.

Yesterday, as we were settling in to our tents, the staff cautioned us about leaving food in our temporary accommodation because the resident warthogs had been known to destroy tents and everything in them in search of food. Warthogs have very keen sense of smell. So you just picture my face when I discover while getting my small backpack ready for the day, that I forgot an open packet of crisps in my bag over night. God is merciful people! Once again just imagine what they would say at my wake,

" Over a bag crisps..... both her and the room mate..... the tent ripped to shreds and Maria was drenched in her own pee, just drenched..." 

Our breakfast, ordered the night before is packed and neatly labeled with names and we are allowed a cup of coffee or tea before the mad rush for the ferry. We need to be on the very first one to get to the game park early. 

We make it! Our travel van is number eight in the line, so we line up and wait for the ferry to depart. As we are waiting we notice tons and tons of white stuff floating upstream, at first I thought it was pollution, and am deeply embarrassed for my country but as the ferry crosses the river I notice it's a bubbly foam. I am relived it's not plastic bags, but gosh what the heck is it?

This was taken later in the day but you see the same bubbly stuff..

I later learn that it is caused by the speed of the water, the air, and a certain type of algae living in the river.

We pick up our game park guide on the other side of the river, the sun is slowly making an appearance despite the grey sky so we head on to the park. 

We saw quite a few animals, but I was taking pictures on my phone which as mentioned in the last post does not do the trip justice. Never the less here are a few to give you an idea..

Gloria's extend family



We learnt about how the palm trees in the picture below came to be in Uganda. These palm trees are responsible for  palm oil, which if you have natural hair, is part of the hair gold family . Elephants , being the natural  guardians of the earth that they are , brought the seeds of this marvelous palm tree all the way from South Sudan in their poop! Yes elephants introduced a new tree species to Uganda; they contributed to the environment through their poop. Your poop on the other hand is NOT that special... your 💩💩💩💩 left unattended and not disposed properly is every emergency response NGO's nightmare.... a potential cholera outbreak 😐😐😐

The last part of our safari was this building, which we were told by the game park  guide was built by Idi Amin ( President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979) and when he lost power they just abandoned it. It is the most peculiar thing to see in the park. This worn away building with overgrown plants spelling out raw forgotten feelings about the past.

Sad about no lions being spotted, we headed back to camp for a quick rest and lunch; then at 2.00 pm we headed for the next adventure...a safari boat ride.

This was just fantastic! 

The holes in the picture below are homes of particular species of bird which gets thrown out mid way through the year by another species of bird. I am told this is a reoccurring cycle. I can't remember the names of the species because I was starting to doze, the steady lull of the boat and my delicious lunch was getting the best of me. 😴😴😴

Ernest Hemingway crashed his plane near the Murchison falls ( see picture below) a rescue plane was sent to collect him and guess what that plane crashed too...😧😧😧  Though I felt mortified at fate's cruelty towards the great literary legend that Mr Hemingway is, it made for a great storytelling session by our tour guide. In fact I was waiting for the guide to add that sometimes amongst the  shadows of the trees his ghost is seen scribbing away in his little black note book, jotting notes inspired by is thoughts and observations, notes that will eventually become the first original draft of another best selling book. But that's not the case, the fall is not haunted by a famous writing genius.  *sigh*

The hippos we saw on boat ride, I can only assume are  Gloria's immediate family, and she must be joyfully bobbing amongst them. Hi Gloria, glad we never met on a late night toilet trip. 🙋🙋🙋

Can you see the mother crocodile protecting her eggs? 

still fascinated my the white form...

Day 3 

We wake early once again hoping to spot the lions on our way out the park but alas the big cats and their cubs have shunned us. The only evidence of their existence are fresh paw prints crossing the road. I am happy none the less,  it's been a good trip and I have seen another side of my country. As always I can't wait for the next opportunity to do so.

Thanks for stopping by! 
Click Here to read part one in case you  missed it.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

My 1st Mini Getaway in 2018: Red Chilli & Murchison Falls ( Part 1)

You need to visit cause my phone photos just don't do it justice.

Day 1

 I wake up at 4.00am because of a nightmare.

 A nightmare about cannibals.

 I was in a safari van heading somewhere with cannibals *Cue any Hitchcock movie soundtrack*.

A week ago when I told my Dad that I was going to be away for a few days, he said,

“You’ll be eaten by animals! ”

This isn’t the first time he has tried to talk me out of my random mini annual breaks. Still I have no idea how his animal warning turned into a-cannibals-on-safari-nightmare!? I suspect my creative subconscious dug deep in the well of my memories and pulled from a forgotten horror film. I am starting to realize I have been programmed to think the worst, worry shall be a familiar companion on this trip.

I give myself thirty more minutes in bed before I get up to prepare for the journey. The special is collecting me at 6.00am. Once I have woken up, dressed,  and finished packing a quick glance at my phone’s clock tells me that I am running late. We finally set off at 6.26am. 

I arrive at Red Chilli Hideaway at 7.00am, it’s definitely hidden because we missed the turning and have to be guided back by a boda boda. After nervously checking in, I am told I have time for a cup of coffee.  So I head up stairs to the restaurant to have some breakfast. 

“Maaaaaaaaria!” Shouts a lady from the rectangular window linking the kitchen and the restaurant, her voice effortlessly projects across the room. She’s done this many times before.

I am a little bit startled by her call, it reminds me of school and I feel  caught in some mischievous wrongdoing by the headmistress. You see I am sitting in the corner, engrossed in my odd behavior of observing other people. I walk up to the  kitchen window; she points at the milk and sugar and hands me my breakfast. This appears to be a common feature of the Red Chilli team, the staff memorize your name to plan your accommodation, your meals and tour activities. A nice touch in my opinion, it helps ensure consistency in their customer service.

We leave around 7.50am. There are seven of us in the safari van. Still recovering from my dream last night, I am naturally reserved and so is everyone else except for one. We have a talker amongst us. Someone who is determined to bring everyone together with the warmth of their character. He has travelled with his wife and friend from Canada  and is just soooooo enthusiastic about meeting everyone. First he makes us all go through a group introduction using our names and nationalities.

Once introductions are done , I pull my novel out and glance out the window as we go. The talker continues his conversation with the lady behind me, and I can’t help but eavesdrop.  He tells her he was 18 years old when he first came to visit Uganda, and two months after his arrival Idi Amin took over, becoming our third President. The talker loves Uganda, you can hear it in his voice and every time the van stops he makes an effort to talk to everyone and anyone in luganda. He can’t contain his excitement, he makes  jokes along the way, and gradually his joy becomes contagious. This man is a much needed addition to our group, without him we would all have stayed very much to ourselves.

It’s around 2.00pm when we arrive at the falls after a long long long journey with only two proper stops to stretch our legs. Given the amount of distance we have to cover and all the activities we have to pack into a few days, it is understandable. Tummies rumbling we finally sit to eat our packed lunch, then it’s a 45 minute hike/walk to see the falls. Our assigned guide,  Daniel, informs us that there are two falls, Murchison Fall and the Uhuru fall. Uhuru was formed in the year of Uganda’s independence from Britain. How fitting that the water represents our path to freedom, making a way through the sharp black bolders until we were finally able to push our way over the edge to independence. There used to be two tribes living on either side and each tribe had a name for the fall until Samuel Baker came along and named it Murchison after the President of the Royal Geographical Society. In fact the tribes used to make regular sacrifices at the fall, a goat would be killed in hopes that good fortune would follow. If a man wanted a wife from the other side of the fall, he had to wait for a special day when they would line up all the single women, and then to demonstrate his love, he would have to jump across the falls. If he made it, he got himself a wife!

where we ate lunch.

Our guide, Daniel

It is beautiful.  I am exhausted from the heat and hiking but it is beauuuuuuuuuuuuutiful. The view is worth it! There is something about being near the water that’s refreshing, even in the blistering heat (my toes are sweating) . The sound of the fall stills the self, and makes me stop and take long deep breaths. I am always struck with a sense of gratitude that through such opportunities I can see the earth show off it's magnificence. Doesn’t it deserve too though? It’s put up with us humans all this time. 

Show off Mother Earth, you’ve earned it!

Would you jump across for love?

Uhuru and Murchison Falls

Uhuru fall

Murchison fall

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has really taken care of the area, there is no rubbish around. The railings to help you keep your balance while walking/hiking looks freshly painted. If they were rusty I didn't see it.  The signs are still readable and placed in significant areas. There are litter bins around. There are rules that must be respected.

No litter...Not one piece of annoying plastic

 It’s been a good day. As we head to camp, my sweaty sticky body is looking forward to a shower and a hot meal.

Wait! Don't leave! Here's the link to part 2, Click here

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A Girl Going Through Puberty...

The mistress has a daughter. The daughter inspired this post. Unfortunately, to understand the daughter we must discuss her mother, the mistress *cue eye roll and sigh*

The mistress likes to appear like she's a well trained domestic goddess, but me and the house girl know from experience that she barely does a thing.

Funny thing about women, I am of the opinion that we have developed or been conditioned to look for our own subtle social rules and cues that tell us about each other and our backgrounds.

My mother used to continually remind me during moments of my reluctance to complete my chores properly,

"You know people will know what kind of mother I am just by looking at the way you behave in their homes. Don't embarrass me! " 

Her warning is a reoccurring thought in my head, made more prominent ever since I started to observe the mistress pottering around the house.

The mistress takes pride in being seen fussing about the kitchen pretending that she's tidying and organizing when all she does is clog up the sink with chicken bones. The women seems unable to understand the relevance of a rubbish bin. We now all know when she's packed up the sink because she won't be found in the kitchen for the next twenty four hours, or until someone manually unclogs it with the metal hanger in the store. She likes to flex her culinary skills by making a special meal of spaghetti with boiled potatoes. (My father hates spaghetti).  She has mastered the art of going through 3kg of sugar a week, and somehow ensures the house help gets blamed for it. The young lady hired to clean the house used to get shouted at for not doing her job properly, because the mistress conveniently kept forgetting to buy soap and floor polish. Last week the young lady came to me in tears begging for some Vim.

Now the mistress' ability to fake domestic talents was a favorable achievement, until last year when her daughter got her period. As we all know the period changes everything. The way people look at and treat you changes. There are standards and expectations that a girl turning into a women must learn. When she hits puberty every older female makes it their duty to ensure the newest member  knows what's up.

You see the mistress's daughter never used to do much in the house either. She would wake up at 1.00pm and immediately sit on the TV to watch cartoons. One time I was told she spat at the former house girl for not serving her breakfast properly.

So how did I know that this stage in life had been reached?

The same way mothers can sniff out a newly pregnant woman. Every female knows when another girl crosses over. The girl becomes socially awkward in the first few months. Why? Because she's suddenly extremely sensitive and aware of her body and the people around her. Shyness becomes an obtrusive part of a girls' personality for a while.

The way my father treated the mistresses' daughter changed. No more ice cream trips. No more babying or indulging. He started to point out her flaws. Her hair wasn't combed. She had not matched her shoes well with her outfit. Her skin looked dry, why isn't the girl wearing Vaseline? Why did you behave badly in church, you cannot play anymore you have to pray? How are you sitting? Women don't sit like that! 

One afternoon we sat at the dining table to eat breakfast just me and my father. It's a dinning table that I'd known since I was a child.  It's actually one of the many pieces of furniture in the house that is older that me. After some deep quiet reflection, my father swallowed the some pineapple, cleared his throat and made the following comment.

"Look how she chooses to raise her." He said the word raise as though he had a horrible taste in his mouth.

I burst out laughing because the 'her' was still fast asleep upstairs while the mistress was outside doing what she does best masquerading as useful. I was in shock that my father made this comment to me of all people. At first I thought he was just thinking out loud, but then I looked up to see his expectant face waiting for my response. Why was he confiding in me about a situation he has often refused to address? What exactly was I supposed to say? I decided to remain silent. I continued sipping my coffee and eating my blue band and jam toast.

I expected things to continue as they were. However,  the mistress's daughter well....she surprised me. You see I had forgotten that with puberty sometimes comes the ability to empathize.  Empathy is a capacity that should never be taken forgranted.  In this world if you are unable to metaphorically put yourself in someone else shoes' the ghost of misunderstandings will haunt you.

The mistresses' daughter seems to have become aware of her mothers short comings.  She looks at me differently now, almost like she's apologizing for her mother. She seems to want to show all of us in the house that she is nothing like her. She leaves the sink spotless after washing dishes, not a chicken bone in sight. She greets me in the morning with extreme fear in her eyes. I am not sure whether this is part of her rebellious teenage phase or a Jedi mind trick she learned from her mother. I have decided to keep  my distance and remain silent.

The first time I encountered this girl was years ago, she was dying. The school called the mistress to collect her, I gather they did not expect her back because they packed up everything. The girl arrived unable to talk, sit , eat or even hold herself up. My father spent weeks showing the mistress how to save her daughter's life. He had to force her to take care of her own child.

They argue often my father and the mistress. It's never loud and emotional, like how he used to argue with my mother. It always these strained whispers as they move from room to room hoping none of us will hear my father's hurt frustration and the mistress' heartless responses. Then he packs up her one bag and she's gone for the time being. Still trying to convince us that all is well in mistress-ville, She always leaves the house smiling like she's off on holiday. Days later the girl who's becoming a women is obliged to act. She makes the phone call from her mother's mobile, begging my father to save them. Her father is alive I am told, but not too bothered about her well-being. She is learning to be the adult in a very muddled situation and her mother can't even be a-mother-enough to protect her.

It's the unfortunate thing about puberty. The reality of life pops your perfect safe happy bubble. People think I didn't notice things as child, they thought if they 'made nice' maybe I would not notice. So I pretended not to know to please them, to protect my self and to cope. I am not sure how convincing I was, I know my siblings didn't buy it.  I think they hoped that if  I did know I would try to forget, and not ask them questions they could not answer. The comforting thing is I had my siblings, we witnessed the same, we were together, not left to figure these things alone.

On the rare occasions the mistress' daughter interacts with my nieces she leaves clues in her stories about her mother's behavior. Clues my nieces don't understand but when my nieces repeat them to their mother, and their mother repeats them to me, we can't mistake the meaning, its always clear to the adults. The girl becoming a woman is looking for answers, things that may explain the peculiar behaviors of those charged with her care. Answers she hopes will be filtered back from my sister in law, through my nieces, to her. But we can't help her piece together this confunding puzzle. That's the responsibility those raising her.

Don't forget to leave a comment below. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Taking Stock - It's 2018 already!?

Making: Not one single Vision Board! I am feeling disenchanted by this whole goal setting thing. You rush to cross the finish line then what? Still out of breath from your recent accomplishment, you then look at your list to read the next goal that MUST to be crossed off by the 31st December....yish...I am tired! I got burn out remember? When am I supposed to celebrate my accomplishments if the year's schedule is so jam- packed? While I am ranting, let it be noted by our universal note taker that the last month of the year is not enough reflection time for the adult human race. Also  the rush to achieve things in 12 months is just  NOT practical in my 'humble' millennial opinion. I am taking a break from creating new goals, I am heading of the track field to the locker room to regroup. I need to give my body time to heal from the bruises and sprains. Although I achieved many of my goals last year, I tripped and fell a couple of times while jumping over the hurdles. Plus I have goals from the last two years I still want to complete thoroughly, I refuse to leave them halfheartedly done in a cupboard some where called 'Things I did in 2017'. I shall be dragging them into 2018 to ensure they become master pieces ( Remember we are creating legacies here).  Plus I want to leave space for spontaneity this year, and create room to live. I no longer want to feel overwhelmed nor restricted by organized lists and calendar plans that were blindly drafted in January and influenced by FOMO from the previous year. God shall make my vision board this year.

Drinking:  Water, can't get enough water it's soooooo hot during this time of year!

Reading: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan I may have bought this book because I loved the cover. I ask forgiveness from the book loving community and hope that despite my weakness for good graphic design they shall take into account that this book was also recommended by Goodreads. 

Playing: Just bought 30 Seconds for the whole family to play. I shall be looking add to my games collection this year.

Wishing: No current wishes just looking forward to this year!

Enjoying:  Finally found time to catch up on all my fave series. Usually  tucked up somewhere comfortable with The Farmhouse Chicken or pork sandwich/burger thingy. It's glo-ri-ous!  They put purple cabbage and some lovely mayonnaise like sauce.  I could make it at home but I am a millennial, I have been conditioned to believe there is power in purchasing things. Comfort food + fave series = Perfect Lazy Afternoon

Writing:  A short story. Will it ever see the light of day? To be Confirmed.  

Loving:  My Lipstick collection! Blue Flame. African Queen. True Red. Red Sunset. Rouge Brilliance. Kitten Heels. Kiss Me Now. Vintage. Back Stage. Pin Up. Arabica. Purty Persimmon. Cherry Wine. Fired Up. Irresistible. Is there a limit to the amount lipsticks one can have? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below

Eating: After December Burn Out we are eating whatever keeps our body happy. My body said and I paraphase, " All these upcountry trips you are taking and you want to remove sugar from our diet...No Nope, Double No and Neda!"

Needing: A holiday. Already planning a few mini ones for the year! Excited. 

Wearing:   Daily eye makeup to justify the cost of buying this really lovely eye shadow palette.Y'all the Morphe 35 R palette is F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. It is the perfect blend of day and night shades for ladies of colour, and for beginners like myself. I shall be looking for other shades this year.

Knowing: That sometimes we MUST let go and let God. I have to remind myself to not try and fix everything. I have to let things be. Recently had a difficult conversation with a family member, actually it was more of confrontation. It made me realize that while I may have good intentions and want to help, my helping hand  may be taking away the person's ability to believe they can solve their own problems. In fact this person had gotten so used to making a mess and then coming to me with the mop and bucket saying ' I am not sure how to clean this up. You fix it please.' Their flippancy sent a wave of an epiphany through my nerve system. I got frightening but necessary chills of revelations. I took a step back and left them in shock with the mop and bucket. I didn't advise them on which soap to use.  This year some family members shall be required to fix their own mess, because they need to learn they CAN do it. I may have already written about this on this blog..oh well. 

Thinking:  Of People who have lost loved ones this holiday season. One of my father's school friend's passed away on boxing day, his son showed up at the house devastated. Brought back memories of when we lost our mother. There is just nothing you can say in such moments that will ever be enough. Praying for them. It's tough. Sometimes I wish we could banish death, but that sounds like a phase for a fiction piece.

Giggling Over: I bought all these old Christmas movies, Frosty the Snowman, Micky Mouse's Christmas Carol, The little Drummer Boy, How the Grinch stole Christmas. Some of these were made in 1960's and you can tell cause the element of story telling is really strong. They always help bring about my reluctant Christmas cheer at the end of the year.


I am leaving this quote here, cause it's fire! I hope you stay inspired this year. And keep dropping by the blog, love seeing you here.

Comment below, what are you making, enjoying, writing loving etc...?