Saturday, 18 April 2009

Lake Albert photos

I've had two trips to Lake Albert recently - I visited Butiaba, a fishing village on the shores of the lake at Easter with some VSO friends. It's about an hour and a half's drive from Masindi and an interesting place to visit - it's usually incredibly hot and dry there but fortunately it wasn't too hot when we went. Not surprisingly the majortiy of the people who live there make a living from fishing tilapia or Nile perch. The area seemed incredibly poor with most of the people living in small mud huts. The local kids got very excited when they saw my camera and wanted to be in every photo. Ernest Heminway is known to have stopped in Butiaba to recover after a plane crash close by. another claim to fame for the village is that the movie The African Queen was filmed nearby in the 1930's. Lake Albert is situated on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fishermen repairing nets on the shores of Lake Albert
Young girl with tiny baby on her back!
A Maribou stork, (centre), two ibis (left) and some white herons (right)
Over the Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of May, myself and two VSOer's from Masindi stayed at the Lake Albert Safari Lodge for 2 nights - it's further down the lake from Butiaba, about a 3 hour drive from Masindi. The lodge is situated in the Kabwoya wildlife reserve and is perched on the side of a cliff looking down onto the lake - it has fantastic views of the Blue Mountains on the other side. There were lots of babaoons, wart hogs and small antelopes around the lodge - I had a wake up call early one morning from one of the baboon, it was banging against and trying to open the sliding doors of the banda I was staying in, fortunately he didn't mange to open it!
Blue Mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the background

Monday, 6 April 2009

Let the rains begin....

Some of the local children who live near my house - they all come running out, shouting 'muzungu, bye' (they mean hello!) when they see me

Two women dressed in the traditional Ugandan gomesi (it's made of polyester so is incredibly hot and sweaty - they also wear a long tunic-style dress underneath it) - they were on their way to a wedding in Masindi

A beautiful and very large butterfly that decided to settle on one of the work units in the hotel kitchen - the staff told me it was small by Ugandan standards!

The rainy season normally starts at the beginning of March but this year it's have been delayed by many weeks.The rain finally came to Masindi last week and when it rains here it really rains. There is no such thing as a light or soft drizzle here just torrential down pours and they come with very little warning. In the last week there have been quite a few spectacular thunder and lighting storms. So instead of the usual red dust, there is now lots of very slippy red mud! The one good thing is that the temperature has dropped and it is now much more pleasant and bearable. When it rains everything comes to a standstill - the Ugandans don't like to get wet and find it quite amusing when I tell them that when it rains in the UK everything just carries on as normal.

I've not 'blogged' for quite some time as the last few weeks have been quite unsettling as far as my work is concerned. Unfortunately, after a lot of thought I've made the difficult decision to leave the hotel - the job wasn't working out as I had hoped and it was becoming increasingly hard for me to carry out my VSO role there. There were numerous factors that influenced my decision, many of which I can't go into on this blog but suffice to say that I was finding it very difficult to work in an environment where staff hadn't been paid for many months and morale was incredibly low as a result. I'll be very sad to leave the staff at the hotel, I've really enjoyed working along side them, they really are lovely people, I've learned a lot from them. Their lives are so hard and everyday seems to be a struggle to pay rent or school fees and to provide food for their families, they have so little in monetary or material terms but yet they keep smiling and still have hope that all will be well - it's very humbling.
VSO are supporting my decision, so I'm now looking for another placement as I definitely want to stay in Uganda, but it may mean leaving Masindi, which will be a shame as I've settled and have made friends here now. It was a tough decision to make especially as I had such hope for the job, I'd also waited such a long time to find what I thought was the 'right' placement. Although the situation is not great at the moment and I'm feeling a bit unsettled, I think I've made the right decision. I'm hopeful I can find a placement that I feel is worthwhile and that satisfies the reasons I started on the VSO journey in the first place - it's been quite a journey, a bit of a roller coaster really, but fingers crossed it will all work out soon....... watch this space......