Friday, May 8, 2009

Yohoho and a Bottle of Waragi

We're back in Mbale after a nice weekend in the southern parts of this nice little country called Uganda. We spent a few days in the Ssese Islands, in the district of Kalangala. Quick geography lesson, Uganda is landlocked, so the island is in the middle of a lake. Considering the island hosts a population of well in excess of 30,000, and you can't see it from the mainland, that's a pretty big lake. The second biggest in the world, some will tell you. It was nice, relaxing and quiet. We took a ferry out there, which around here is a little terrifying. About half of the Africans we talk to say they wouldn't be caught dead on a boat, which I can understand. We were told that "yes, there are pirates. But they're not like those Somalis on tanker ships you here about, so don't worry." To recap: the two of us set out to take a boat that even the locals think is way sketchy out to an island in the middle of a lake populated with pirates in the middle of Africa. I'll gauge our expectations at "cautiously optimistic."

(On the beach, near the landing)

The boat was just fine though, it was like any other ferry I've ever taken. We decided to drop the extra $2 to spring for first class, because I sleep under only the finest of silk mosquito nets, which meant a movie. Needless to say, they made some odd choices. Let me remind you that we were by no means sure at any point in our journey that we weren't going to finish it swimming. I guess they found the Chinese bootleg dvd collection of Harrison Ford's Best Boat Disaster Movies. Generally not a bad choice, Harrison Ford's made some solid flicks. In our situation though, really? On the way out there the movie was 6 days 7 nights, about- you guessed it- castaways on a desert island. Umm, at least now I know what to do in the event of water snakes- which by the way "are there" to use the Ugandan parlance. On the way back the movie was called U-17 or something, about a Soviet submarine disaster. So I guess the bullet point of this monologue would be that we weren't exactly able to drift away in the story and take our minds of the imminent danger of sinking, though that would have been hard in any case because we couldn't hear the dialogue over the engine noise.


The island was nice, it was probably the most secluded from the real world I've ever been. For news from America to reach us, it would have had to be like extinction level event- or anything about Obama- and it would have taken easily a week.


We stayed at a campsite ran by a flat-out-insane expat German, I think the 60's were not kind to him (I get the impression the 80's and 90's weren't exactly forgiven either). Lots of monkeys and such, most of which aparently slept under our little cottage if the midnight monkey fight was any indication. At one point I was chillin in a hammock and a little monkey family came to investigate. They came up to within like a couple feet of me; luckily their intentions were mostly legit. Of course I didn't have my camera though.

We did a jungle walk up to the village which was cool. It was pretty much jungle-y, actually kind of like Oregon except everything was totally different.



And that was about it. We're back in Mbale now, getting back to work. No more trips for a while I don't think, because the lost weeks are starting to add up- although we don't exactly work 11 hour days even when we are working. Hopefully in the next week or so we will be able to make some actual measurable progress, something that has as yet sort of eluded us.

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