Our last day of LRTT sessions on Thursday went down well. I spent the morning running a session with Alex then we squeezed in a reflection session before lunch where we all wrote a postcard of promises for what we would add to our teaching in the following year. Our teachers walked down to Great Lakes College for lunch and to have the graduation ceremony. This time Simon’s speech was timely- he was trying to talk about teachers as rainmakers again but only the front rows could hear him as the tin roof loudly battled with the rain to keep it out. We took it in turns to go and stand at the front and shake the hands of our teachers after they had been given their certificates by the region’s education minister.
After all the certificates had been handed out and we’d said our goodbyes to the teachers, most of the Teach Firsters went to Kanungu to pick up their ridiculous tailored African clothes, whilst I ran home with Ed. The run was great as it had just started raining so the temperature was do-able. I got back then headed down to the mud football pitch with a few other guys. We were hoping to play some Ugandan teachers but they didn’t show up so we a 6 vs. 6 match instead. That evening consisted of a judge vs. jury game where we put convictions in a box to be read out by Pete (the judge) then the punishment decided by the birthday girls (Claire and Krishna). The convictions were all about the trip’s antics so were hilarious with the worst being long showers or my horrific bout of food poisoning on safari.
On Friday morning, we said our final farewells to the lodge then piled into three mini-buses for the trip back to Kampala. Thankfully the journey was only 11 hours compared to the 20 hour marathon on the way down. The buses arrived at Backpackers at 9pm so we wolfed down some pizza, had a warm shower (wow) then headed to a club in town. Dangerously, we hit a casino in the early hours. This was my first casino experience and I somehow left without losing any money and gaining free food and drinks at the tables. Tim and Simon were less lucky. They both had a similar game plan of starting with 100,000 shillings, winning three times that amount then putting it all on red and losing the lot.
On Saturday, we hit the touristy craft market and everyone bought a load of tat. I thought I would ask about ivory and was offered an ivory necklace from the first stall I went to which was pretty scary. The evening got quite emotional- we were sad to be leaving and incredibly tired from the journey and night out in Kampala. Most people were on a four AM flight on Sunday morning whereas I had a four AM flight on the Monday morning. We decided to spend the last night as a big group at an open air restaurant eating very good curry. I felt sorry for the people down the end who didn’t get much curry but it just tasted so good. There was a live band so Liz and I whipped out the salsa but nobody joined us so it was just a bit embarrassing. Just before the end, the whole group got up (probably encouraged by our dancing) and we had a karaoke session of the songs of the trip- “Making melodies,” “Lean on me” et al. There was a big round of hugs then everyone departed for the airport.
About ten of us were left so went to a cool open-air shisha bar called Mish Mash. There was lots more dancing in here before Pete and I dangerously went onto another club. I don’t remember the name of this one but we witnessed a huge fight where one giant of a man smashed a bar stool over another guy’s head.
On Sunday, I sat around chatting with Joyce who is working on the initial stages of an enterprise project with VU. The others were out watching football so we had something to eat before going to join them. The worst part about joining them was the ride to the place on the back of the boda bodas (motorbike taxis). These things don’t go very fast but have the least right-of-way on the roads compared to the other vehicles. You’ll be happy to hear that we survived and fit three people on one bike at the same time so it was very economical. We were completely squished onto his bike and were grabbing onto anything to feel a bit safer whilst tearing through the streets of Kampala. It was a very scary trip but I started to get used to it by the end. We met the others in a bar/restaurant where a big wedding was about to start. They had tucked us away outside to avoid causing trouble but Simon and I couldn’t resist a quick walk down the aisle. We had a crazy dinner that evening. The next set of volunteers joined us and we split into four groups. Each group had its own cooking equipment, type of meat, fresh ingredients and lots of spices. We all cooked up our curries then judged the winner. Sadly, our cheeky addition of Nile beer didn’t help but the food was pretty good.
This time it was me saying the goodbyes and a massive thank you to Simon for inviting me. I went to the backpackers, collected my stuff then jumped in a taxi to the airport. The flight to Cairo was good, lots of sleep and leg-room to expand into. I arrived in Cairo at about 0830. The Sun was already baking and burn-potential was high even within ten minutes. I minced around for about an hour trying to sort a visa for entry into Egypt as my stop-over was about seven hours.
After all the bureaucracy, I was quite chuffed with the big Egypt sticker in my passport. I headed out of the airport and straight into the palms of all the hustlers who wanted to take me on tours of the pyramids. I managed to secure a deal with a guy to take me to the National museum and back for 170 Egyptian dollars. Soon after, I realised that this guy was just the confident, friendly, English-speaking fixer for his harem of taxi drivers. I went with one guy called Termil. We were introduced and sized each other up; me thinking “I could probably take him on if he tried anything,” him thinking “Just another tourist looking for a genuine Egyptian experience.” Termil spoke very little English and had a favourite phrase of “The pyramids are good, very very good.” Slightly annoying considering I didn’t want to go to the pyramids. The drive was scarier than the boda boda in Kampala- Egyptians in Cairo drive like idiots in a car park moving at 70mph.
After an hour of the recklessness, we parked up by Tahir Square and made our way to the museum. I opted for a guide thinking that wandering aimlessly round this place with Termil would be ridiculous. The guide, Osama, was great. Really friendly and filled with detailed information about the ancient Egyptian artefacts. The gold and ivory-plated tombs and jewellery from Tutankamun’s discovery were the most impressive things along with clothes from 3,362 years ago that had still managed to stay intact. There were some ornate gold jewels and papyrus scriptures worth $60 million US per piece.
I’m now sat in departures waiting for the announcement of the gate number of a flight back to London! Thanks for reading my blog and as a memento, here is a list of the injuries I obtained from four weeks in Uganda:
– Black eye from bungee jump over the Nile
– Sunburnt belly
– Cut knee from fall during lions and gazelles
– Gashed left big toe from Lake Bunyoni
– Gashed right big toe from blister
– Chimpanzee bite on left foot
– Cut finger from pen knife
– Cut finger from nail
– Cut arm from nail