Yesterday, January 26th, was a public holiday in Uganda, commemorating the day that the National Resistance Movement came to power and Museveni was sworn in as president. The day started off very soggy and wet, after a torrential early morning downpour of rain. It's good to know that's it's not only the UK that experiences damp bank holiday weather! The sun did shine brightly again a few hours later though.
Last week the army had been practicing marches on a playing field near the hotel in preparation, we were told for a big parade to celebrate the day, but unfortunately there was no sign of it. Some of the staff at the hotel told me that because there have been some recent cases of meningitis in outlying villages, a decision had been made not to go ahead with the event. The hotel was busy at lunchtime, mostly with European tourists on their way to/from the national park. I thought we might of had more Ugandan customers as many had the day off work, but money is tight for many of them at the moment as the new school year starts next week and there are children's fees to pay.
The weather has cooled down quite a lot in the last week. It had been so hot, even the Ugandan were complaining. The rainy season isn't due to start till the end of February but there has been rain most days for the last week. The rain tends to come in really heavy downpours but then dries up pretty quickly. It keeps the dust down and the temperature is far more pleasant and bearable. It's also easier to sleep at night, I've even needed a light blanket the last few nights.
The hotel is relatively quiet at the moment, though it's pretty hard to judge quiet/busy periods as a tour bus of tourists can down up at any time - a full menu of food is served all day. A group of 23 turned up today and ate off the very extensive menu, so the kitchen was a tad rushed for a short while! It's due to pick up in early February as there are a number of UK groups booked in, many of them are teachers - they come to liaise with local schools and to do training workshops.
There have been some issues with staff at the hotel recently, their attendance and time keeping is not the best and they tend to work very much as individuals, it's quite hard work trying to get the chefs in the kitchen to communicate with each other, let alone work together as a team. I've just had a call to tell me that the head chef (I use the term loosely!), who's been on leave for the past 5 days and was due back at work tomorrow, won't now be back till Friday! Apparently it is quite common for workers not to return when they say they will.
I got asked by some of the hotel staff the other day, what was I going to do on my days off,when I replied that I would probably be doing my washing, ironing, cleaning etc. they were completely amazed and couldn't believe that I would be doing all this by myself (I have a lady called Rose who comes twice a week as well, all the washing is done by hand) - the assumption was because I'm a white woman I couldn't possible know how to do such things!! I had a carpenter fit a mosquito screen on my back door for me last week and he was also amazed that I had a screwdriver, let alone knew how to use it to undo the brackets on some curtain poles!
I've had a problem with my 'askari' (guard) this week - he showed up for work on Saturday evening having consumed quite a lot of alcohol and then fell asleep in his hut at the back of my house. Unfortunately, he's not much use in this state, even if he does have a bow and a handle of metal-tipped arrows! He's fallen aslepp once before, so unfortunately he's now on his last warning.
Mother and daughter digging up the field beside my house using only a hoe, they were delighted to have their photo taken.