Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lake bunyoni

We had a fab weekend at the lake. I suspect it may become a regular weekend spot. It's at about 2000m so is lovely and cool and has the only lake thats OK for swimming (no hippos, crocs or schistosomiasis). We stayed on an island about 800m long and 200m wide with an ecotourism resort (5 tents and a couple of bungalows) mainly eucalyptus forest, yards from the lake edge, kept awake by birdsong. Also very sound, operating as a co-op between a canadian NGo, the church of Uganda and the community, supporting workers, orphans and widows, teaching the children to swim, a tree nursery for reforestation to prevent soil erosion etc. All for £12 a night. And lots of crayfish on the menu.
There has been mass grazing of the hillsides in the south west by Ankole cattle. They are magnificent beasts with the most dramatic horns. They have had quite an impact on the environment though and there are bare hillsides all around. There's a big lemongrass project, growing masses of it as its very good for soil stabilisation and then production of essential oils as a byproduct. A friend of ours is working on the project as a volunteer and has found out in her first week that the UN development grant has been stolen (eaten as they say around here) and that the project faces bankruptcy. Corruption is commonplace.
What do we eat and drink? There are several local beers which are OK. All a light lager. We tend to drink Nile Special but there's also Bell, Club and Tusker that I've tried. They work out at about 30p a bottle. Food wise you can get pretty much anything you want at the supermarkets, at a price. The main problems are storage and cooking facilities. We're lucky 'cos we have a fridge and more importantly electricity. Most people don't bother with a fridge as the electricity is so unreliable. I have an electric cooker but only one ring works and the oven doesn't work either! Again most people have a double gas burner. It does mean that shopping and cooking take much longer than they would in the UK. Theres a very good market that sells seasonal fruit and veg (tomatoes, peppers aubergines, beans of all descriptions, onions, garlic, potatoes (called Irish), yam, cassava, sweet potato, matoke(green banana), huge avocados(the size of a small melon) passion fruit, pineapple various bananas rice, maize flour, eggs, meat and fish. You buy by the pile, a pile is 500 shillings (15p). For that you get 4 green peppers, 6 eggs, a huge bunch of bananas, 10-15 passion fruit etc.
I haven't bought meat or fish as its hanging around in the heat and is covered in flies, although i'm told its fine after a wash. Oh and theres also grasshoppers(cooked). Can't say I fancy them either. Ugandan food is very carbohdrate heavy, usually matoke(green bananas) cooked and mashed or posho(maize flour porridge) and/or rice and/or Irish with a bean stew. The Indian influence is obvious too. Eating out theres Ugandan, English or Indian food. At around £1.50-£2.50 a head.
It's the rainy season but i'm not sure what that means. Its sunny about half the time and occasionally it buckets down, but only for a few minutes and not every day. Its like a good English Summer all the time.
We're having an intensive Runyankore language week this week. Its very hard. it has nothing in common with European languages and has a complex (to me) structure where you have to know which of 6 or 7 classes a noun falls into before you can use a verb, adjective etc. Even of is 7 different words. Eg a different of for bananas, table and water. And different for singular and pleural. Even numbers! Numbers 1 to 5 change depending on what you're counting!! Oh and the time is different too. One o'clock is 7am. The rationale is that the sun rises and sets at 6, so 1 hour after sunrise is 1am, midday is 6am etc. Theres no description for the hours between 6pm and 6am, its night time.

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