Our adventure to chimp island!!!

Wow! What a day and what an adventure! It is now 5 to midnight and we are finally getting all the children to bed! We got up in time to leave at 6.45 this morning so it has been a long day! Getting out of the house on time this morning was complicated by a power cut which started just before we needed to get up and ended just after we left!!! We all got up and ready to two small torches!

The first adventure was the car cutting out this side of Kampala. No RAC here so Ronnie jumped out of the car and onto a boder-boder (motor bike taxi) and headed off to the nearest garage and came back with a mechanic!! Bizarre!! Anyway that got fixed while the children and I dozed and we were off again!!!! We turned off the main road and drove for 1o minutes on clay roads to the edge of Lake Victoria (the second largest lake in the world  bordered  by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. We knew we were taking a boat but yet again were slightly scared by the reality!!!! It was a small (Herbert and Eve would say ‘large’) fishing boat with a small sheltered area in the middle. No dock- so we were all (yes ALL) carried to the boat by local men. The boat had a motor but even then the trip was an hour and a half before reaching the fist island – a  small fishing town where we dropped off a passenger and her cargo. The funniest part of the trip was when the men on the boat found a small catfish in the water puddle in the bottom of the boat and put it in a tub to show the children. I passed it to Eve and it jumped out onto her knee- lots of screaming and laughing!

We first visited an island and walked through the town and up to the school where I ‘greeted’ a class and saw their classroom. We continued to walk across the island and down to the opposite shore where the boat (after a typical African delay) came to collect us and took us to Nganba Island (known from here on as ‘Chimp Island’ (or ‘simp’ island if you are Abby!!) It is a chimp reserve – 100 acres of jungle, where they look after rescued chimps that have been captured, orphaned, injured etc. It is beautifully presented and we sat through an introductory talk and were warned that as an adult chimp is 5 times as strong as a human – if one escapes and the warning whistle is blown, we are all to run into the  lake as an adult can kill a person (reassuring!!!!) The chimps are free to explore the island but are brought in at night. They are separated from us by electric fences but there are really nice wooden viewing platforms (with shade – which was really good as by now the weather was baking despite a really cool and overcast start to the morning)

The chimps are fed 4 times a day (this bit is really for the children reading!) AT 6.30 am they have posho (a traditional cornbread made from maise flour and water) and bananas. At 11 and 2.30 they get fruit and veg and at 6.30pm they come in for porridge. It is amazing how they all appear from the forest just minutes before the food arrives. The children helped to through the food from the viewing platforms and we enjoyed watching them and reading all the signs telling us about their behaviour.

Back on the boat again (yes mum, life jackets on!) and we started passing round the rest of the breakfast and happily ate ‘lunch’. Little did we know!!! We stopped the boat at what looked like the bottom of a dry waterfall. We asked what we were doing now and we merrily told that we were going to the home of one of the men with us where they had prepared us lunch. EEK!! We climbed the waterfall to find a lovely little traditional village with mud huts and straw roofs and were greeted like long lost friends. We were taken into one hut and brought the BIGGEST bowls of food ever! There was steamed matoki (are you spotting a matoki theme?- it is just a shame we don’t like it!), a pileoof rice almost as large as the children and half a talapia fish. They has sacrificed so much to feed us that it was rude not to eat. Knickers! The fish was fab though – fresh from the lake.

The children got to see pineapples growing and coffee and to watch them burning charcoal. Herbert has several of his micro enterprise projects on these islands but we ran out of time in visiting them. We did find time for a short trek into the jungle to spot monkeys (and in my case to get bitten by huge safari ants!!!) It was fun (especially if you ignored the fact that it was African jungle and what creepy crawly biting things might be lurking!! We did see the monkeys though!!!

Back on the boat and off to Herbert and Eve’s island!! YES that is right – the own part of one of these islands – 5 acres to be accurate. When they bought it it was bush but now there is a team of men living there transforming it into a terrific ‘resort’ – with pathways and mud huts and a children’s roundabout etc We took an avocado tree that we had bought on the main road on the way and planted the ‘Patrick Avocado’! A fun planting ceremony! So far the area has been used by Ywam and Kids camps and in the future may be rented out as an income for the family.

Back home on the boat (the children were amazingly behaved all day)- Roo and I spent a lot of the journey making up stories about the shapes of the islands we passed!! We again got carried from the boat and all piled in the car (this time surrounded by children all waving and shouting!)

The final adventure was that the battery was flat again and so again we had to sort that out! In the end we borrowed one and a man to travel with us to a garage and he then travelled back with the battery once we had replaced it! The traffic in Kampala was stacked as usual and so the children got to catch up on three hours sleep on the way home! I don’t like to sleep int he car – there is so much to see on the roadside – shops and stalls and groups walking. I don’t want to waste a minute!

When we got back we found that as we had been expected 4 hours earlier (!) they had prepared supper so ate chappatti and chicken and samosas!!! (yeap the diet is going REALLY well- I had underestimated how many people would cook for us and be offended if we don’t eat – most seem to provide at least 5 carbohydrate dishes!!!!

Home to a hot shower, a cold beer and a DVD- plus a wireless internet connection we have bought for their home. A bizarre day of the every traditional and rustic Africa to the very modern and comtempary. A lot to process.

Thank you for your prayers by the way -all our tummies are back to normal and the heat is no longer a problem – even in the car as they have had the sunroof fixed so it opens and we get some air in the back. Simon has some bites on his feet which have been nasty and slightly infected so on Wed were very swollen and sore but are much better now. The next prayer request is for the children to sleep!!! They stay awake a long time and do sleep late but Roo seems to be awake a lot int he night (the guard dogs are SO loud all night) and this is really affecting his behaviour in the day and therefore my ability to cope with him! It is quite hard to have to do everything for them – from taking to the loo at Wellspring to cleaning their teeth with them with bottled water to remembering to give the tablets and cover in lotion and mossie repellent etc etc It is a little frustrating that I can’t do as much as I would like in the school but I had tried to prepare myself for this and the children are coping amazingly with every new situation and all the greeting and cuddles they get!! WE really enjoy our walk to Wellspring in the morning as we wave and greet everyone in Luganda!!!

Tomorrow (Saturday) we are off swimming and then to Mike’s for a BBQ. On Sunday we travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park for three days of Safari and won’t be back at Wellspring until Wed evening so the blog will be quiet but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong! I have a mobile here is anyone is keen to text (I sent one from the middle of Lake Victoria today!!-) The number is  +256753030001

PS IF you are readding this blog please do leave a message – it would be lovely to know you are out there!!

One Response to “Our adventure to chimp island!!!”

  1. Tricia says:

    my darlings, have tried to leave comments before but nothing seemed to register, so sorry! Even emailed Peter to ask what to do! Hope this one reaches you. We are all ecstatic that you are having such a wonderful, fruitful time and very proud of you all. Well done Roo and Abby for being so brave and adventurous, we know it’s not always easy in new places. We are loving every moment with you all, thank you dearest Clare for taking so much trouble to fill us in when you must be weary. Can’t wait to see the videos too! I print off every blog in 24 font and give it to Lollie who reads it through again and again till I think she’s memorised every word! Jan and Dermot AND ED here for the weekend and we’re all going with Waney to a jazz concert tonight – at Univ Church – the historic one in The High where Wesley, CS Lewis and trillions of others have preached and where Cranmer etc were tried before being executed in Broad Street in 1555. Music is liturgy, set to jazz, should be fascinating, and on Radio 4 am service tomorrow! all send huge hugs and kisses, we love you! Tricia xoxoxoxoxoxox

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