Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It's been a while since I last put a posting on. But I have a good excuse -the hotel was extremely busy for 10 days right up to last weekend and there wasn't much time to sit down and do the blog. There were two groups (one of 17 and one of 40) staying in the hotel who ate in the restaurant every evening. Unfortunately, there wasn't a head chef so I took on the role of head chef/kitchen manager. I've worked in some hot kitchens over the last 20 years but never one quite as hot as the one here, it was like working in an oven! The kitchen and restaurnat staff were fantastic and willingly gave up their days off for the week just so there was adequate cover on each shift. The group of 40 UK-based teachers ended their week on a real high as they were treated to a concert of music and dance put on by school children from the local schools in the district - the kids were great.

Local school children performing traditional songs and dances

I'm in Kampala this week on VSO In Country Training (ICT). Because I arrived in Uganda out of cycle and by myself in mid-December I went straight to my placement and so have now joined with a new group of volunteers who arrived last Sunday. I took the post bus from Masindi to Kampala on Saturday, a journey which should take about 4 hours, but by the time the bus stopped to drop off/pick up post at local post offices along the way and also made various stops to allow passengers to buy bananas and pineapples on the roadside, it ended up being just over 5 hours. The post bus is known to be one of the slowest public buses but also one of the safest as they tend not to travel at high speed unlike many of the bigger buses and they also limit the number of passengers they take.

I met up with a group of Kampala-based VSO volunteers on Saturday evening, we went out to a Thai restaurant, which was a real treat - there's not much social activity in Masindi and few, if any places to eat out. It was nice to meet up with other volunteers and to hear about their experiences, which are often very different to those placed up country.

Part of the VSO ICT training involves learning one of the local Ugandan languages, so today I started having lessons in Runyoro, which is the language spoken by the Banyoro tribe who live in Masindi district. It's certainly not the easiest langauage to learn as many of the words tend to be really long and have spellings like 'oi', 'ii', 'nny', and 'nd' that take some getting used to. Although Runyoro is the local language spoken in Masindi, the staff at the hotel come from many different regions, each with their own dialects and languages, so they generally tend to speak to each other in Kiswahilli. I'm planning to start Kiswahilli lessons when I return to Masindi as I think it'll be more benefical for me.

On Sunday evening VSO had arranged for the new volunteers to attend an outdoor cultural show at the the Ndere Cultural Centre in Kampala - it was a great evening, with lots of traditional dancing, singing and music - see photos below. The energy of the dancers and drummers is amazing especially as it is so hot here.

1 comment:

Julian Robinson said...

Wow, good to read your latest entry. Sounds like lots happening as usual - never a dull moment it seems in Masindi and surrounding areas.

Photos look great too - seems you are getting a real introduction to the cultural traditions/customs, etc.

Keep up the good work and the blog of course. Lots of people are following your adventure!