Sunday, 25 January 2015

Fitting in the African shoes

Simone being the african woman
The morning sunrise reflecting in front of the tent was the wake up call, turning yourself because you couldn’t get enough of the sleep is no way you could avoid the colourfull reflections. Had i woken up in the morning and at seeing the beautifull morning sunrise, I couldn’t hold but pullout my camera to shutter that beautifull scene overlooking the park. Hardly had i noticed that Gadi and simone were already up, infact by 6:30am waiting for the sunrise and looking over to the park from the luxury safari tent verander at elevation of 45 degrees. At that angle they could see most of the animals roaming and feeding. All kinds of antelopes, zebras, bucks and hippos in a far distance returning to the waters after a night feeding which they used binoculars to see. The combination of the sunrise and a variety of animals feeding was a good sight seeing start for the day.

Ofcourse saying a waving Goodmorning, we had our relaxing time as we enjoyed the combination of the sunrise and animals roaming the park but softly i overheard Simone saying the “Ezi yoffi, uaii, uaii” words. It was time for us to get ready for breakfast and headout for a close encounter with the animals again. The breakfast was amazing, all sort of fruits available, juice, African tea, spiced and not, coffee mention it all that it has to offer, it was all our choice to make. The omelette was always asked and it was wiered that the 3 of us always had the same omelette, we always had a taste for the Spanish omelette. And the fast eater was Gadi, we nicknamed “The silverback” meaning the family eldest and defender in the Gorilla fraternity. he says that’s how he be during eating. As we got in the middle of the plates halfway, Gadi was always done already.

Because we had booked for half board, that is dinner, bed and breakfast, we decided to check out with our laggage and do the wildlife encounter and head out for our next destination that was supposedly been lake bunyonyi kabale. As we got into the park entrance we did the clearance where foreigners pay $40 per pax  for 24 hrs which we had paid the day before and the 24hrs hadn’t elupsed so we took advantage of it to get into the park but needed to be out by 3pm that makes the 24 hrs and the car entrance a fee was just $12. Residents pay $5, but for my case I always have a special pass for a year which I always present at the entrance to allow me access the park, I pay for that annually. On entrance we were welcomed with close encounters of the herds of impalas before we continued to the park headquarters for inquiry of a possible activity. The advantage that comes with self drive or car rental and guided trips is that your guide will layout for you the different activities to do in the park and you can decide which you prefer than the already packaged iteneries all inclusive. This is the advantage associated with car rental with Auto rental Uganda. So the clients decide to do a nature walk in the park. Lake mburo is one of the few parks in Uganda that you can take a trail on foot and get upclose with the wildlife but this is always in the presence of a ranger guide who is part of the $30 fee you pay for the nature walk. If the guide is impressive, a tip is not mandatory or a must, but is highly appreciated depending on how happy and contented you are with him or not, say anything between $1 to $20 is highly appreciated. As the driver, i had Gadi and Simone with their ranger guide dropped off at the starting point of the walk into the jungles. It was supposedly a three hours walk in the park so i had to pullover my seat and rest till they came back. “We saw all the animals so upclose than you can expect Guma, it was amazing” ofcourse the ezii yoffi uaii uaii words came in at every end of each narration. thats what they told me, the different bird species and the shy Ellands were their favourite, they said. This was upclose. Did you see the lion, I asked? No lion. There are lions and leopards in this park but rarely seen. They were surprised though. We dropped off the ranger to the headquarters of the park and it clocked mid day wen we headed out of the park, so the one day entrance fee was enough for the spectacular adventure. 
getting ready for the nature walk

Yes the three of us were getting hungry and it was time for us to look for the closest restaurant as we headed south to bunyonyi. Gadi had earlier highlighted to me the kind of adventure they are into, they needed more than the normal tourist routes and activities, they needed to know the common Ugandan not just wildlife and scenery. The local common person was part of their wish, Usually with the common routine, we make a stopover for lunch at mbarara Agip motel or Igongo cultural centre. As a guide putting my clients needs before me and trying to make it worth the adventure, i planned to give them an African treat for a traditional African meal prepared by an African Family in a humble surrounding. At first I thought they may not like it that way but seriously this turned out to be the highlight of their trip. It was not easy getting this African meal prepared, 1. Because it was my mother in-law supposed to do that. So you can imagine how tence i felt. In African/Ugandan culture, men don’t get close to their mother in-laws or else call them on phone, she was the only woman I knew who could cook the best traditional meal called the LUWOMBO and a person I could totally relly on so tactically i called my Girlfriend on phone 300kms away from us and I was close to my mum-inlaws home locality in mbarara. After she accepted to do that for his “son in-law” I was excited. So I drive my Gadi and simone to this humble African home, they are not a well to do home with good house but they are a “RICH AT HEART” family, a common characteristic with African homes. Very welcoming, we all got a warm welcome and locally weaved mats were layed for us outside under a tree in a good shade, typical African sorrounding. Sitting down and using our bare hands to eat is a common thing for us Africans. As usual I get to my work of guiding these muzungus (general african name for white coloured people) how we do it in the pearl of Africa. How we sit while eating, how we wash hands in a pan and a woman supposed to wash a man’s hands and get his food plate ready. So simone being the woman got down to being the African woman kneeling down in an african way, washed her husbands hands in a pan and prepared his food. The food prepared contained all the African foods, pumpkins, cassava, matooke/bananas, yams, sweet and irish potatoes, greens we call DoDo, rice yes, posho/corn meal a lot of foods that I also forgot, the soup was the beans and groundnuts/peanuts  with mushrooms or with beef mashed to make a soup but the most interesting is how they are cooked and served, the scent of the food. This type of Meal is called the LUWOMBO. All these foods are wraped row in banana leaves all in one pan and cooked massively, no cooking oil is used, its all natural. Trust me any Ugandan/African can testify to the deliciousness of this traditional meal. We got down to the food and a lot for that matter and we started bringing it down the African way. If any one found us that day probably thought we were under the influence of any catalyst to eat, but noo we were being Africans here, “being in the African shoes” they neither leave food on the plate nor waste resources. It was not a question of them being muzungu/white from isreal but getting a feel of Uganda. To be sincere for the two hours we spent at my mother in-law’s home, Gadi and simone were typical Africans. Because its traditional not to be close to my mother in-law, she decided to give us the food and wait from inside the house as we ate, there is always tension arising from too much respect. If i wasn’t there she would have joined them to eat just the way we do it in Ugandan homes, we eat together. “A family that prays and eats together, stays together”. But that was not possible with me “the son-inlaw present”. So we missed her for the meal. After having the meals settled in the belly, we decided to take our leave since we had a long distance to cover till we got to lake bunyonyi in kabale. We left my mother in laws house and simone with her usual word “Ezii yoffi, uaii uaii uaii thank you Guma for giving us this experience”. Its what they said to me, as usual you are welcome and welcome to Uganda. And yes African food for lunch is heavy.
Enjoying the local traditional meal

It was not long enough before the both cramble to the effects of heavy lunch, slept off as i negotiated the corners and hills heading to kabale being a hilly area, they even didn’t get the chance to view the great scenery, the rolling hills and terraces not until it started to rain heavily than they woke up, but the journey was slower due to the heavy rains.  They woke up to eating chocolate.These two “muzungus”had a lot of chocolates, and we would eat every kind of chocolate often. 

We got to kabale later on in the evening, this whole distance including the game drives in lake mburo national park, we used up $60 , about 45litres worth fuel which we had to refuel for full tank again to be on the safer side. We also did some quick purchase for some cookies and crackers then headed to the re-known lake bunyonyi 10kms away from kabale town. The 10 kms was also interesting as we had stopovers and witness how the young and the women are involved in stone mining.. they practically do this themselves with bare hands, it was worth seeing as it gives you an idea how different Ugandans survive and this is one of the hard ways, They are still having Uganda. We head straight to lake bunyonyi overland resort, suitiated on the shores of lake bunyonyi, an ever awarded tourist lodge in kabale for its excellence in service, is budget and mid range, they have an open restaurant which you pay after eating, great food with a good chef here, but the only problem with this place is the hospitality of the waiters and waitresses, you only need to get used to them because its normal for them to be that way, that’s the best hospitable they can be. The clients accommodation was a cottage self contained overlooking the lake, with a good view of the lake, islands and terraces, trust me its worth a place to spend a time, so many activities to do as I will get up to this in my next article as I continue this spectacular adventure in the African shoes.

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