Out on the water then walking with ‘friends’ in Uganda


Published: September 11th 2023

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Uganda day 8
Out on the water then walking with ‘friends’ in Uganda

It’s amazing how much we’ve fitted into our first week here. So getting up in the daylight today was a bit of a shock to the system. The view of the lake was an amazing thing to wake up to though. We even had our first leisurely breakfast of the holiday as our first activity wasn’t due to start until 10.
We had a new guide today, Johnson, who had some highs and lows. He was very friendly, his English was great, he knew a lot and he said I look a lot younger than I am. He was only 45 but I had taken him as being older than me. He also repeated himself, a lot, and laughed at everything, which would be a problem later.
We walked down the road to the lakeside and got into a boat that is usually a taxi carrying a lot of locals. And there was just us two, Johnson and our pilot Alfred. And then they suggested we put our life jackets on so we would stand out even more.
It is market day in town and people come


from miles around to buy and sell, even coming from Rwanda. They are not used to wuzungus (whiteys) by the looks of it but that’s okay; I know we have weird coloured skin!
Lake Bunyoni does apparently have fish and crayfish so ignore what I was told the other day. There were fishermen heading out in hollowed out canoes that take a month to make out of eucalyptus trees. Yes, Johnson was very informative.
No other creatures live in the water though, as it is too deep so it is still safe to swim in-can you imagine how many people would come and watch us though if we stripped down to our swimmies! There are 29 islands in the lake with only three having people that live or stay there.
The biggest is home to zebras, impalas, waterbucks and donkeys all of which have been brought in to entertain guests that stay there. I think that is $150 a night whereas a hotel on the mainland is $200….I wouldn’t pay anywhere near that in the centre of London! So much money just to sleep, crazy.
Johnson is a keen twitcher and could identify every bird we saw. The most impressive


was the crowned crane which is the national bird of Uganda. If you kill one you will automatically be sent to prison for nine years.
We stopped off at leper island. It does now have a different name and there are no lepers any more but, not surprisingly, I remember the leper bit. A teacher from the high school met us and was telling us about the good things tney are doing tnere and it was indeed impressive work. He asked us to sign the vistors book and after every entry there was an amount of shillings which meant, yes, we were expected to donate too. So we did.
He then took us to watch a basket weaver who would appreciate a tip too. So we did. For those from our camera club, I continued my hands project. I am happy to receive a tip.
We then went up to the church that was built in 1946 by a white man, as was the hospital at the bottom of the hill. It felt a bit odd even walking past a hospital as a tourist but that was the way back to Alfred who was waiting for us on tne other


From the last island, we had seen Punishment Island which is by far the smallest of the 29 at just 215sq ft. It has one tree which is home to many cormorants, but that’s not how it got its name
In the not too distant past any women who got pregnant out of wedlock would be sent there and left to die. There is nothing to eat, they couldn’t swim and so some did die on there. At one point there were 60 women on there with no buildings, no furniture, nothing. And Johnson told the story and laughed.
Sometimes the man who got the woman pregnant would come and rescue her but they would have to leave the area. In Uganda a lot of rural areas still have dowrys of at least a couple of cattle before you can marry (buy!) a wife. Those that couldn’t afford this may row out to the island, point at whichever woman he wanted with a stick and take her. Again they would have to leave the area. And Johnson told the story and laughed.
I could tell Claire was uncomfortable to say the least but I don’t think he thought it


was actually funny. I hope not anyway, but he appeared to lack empathy for what was an awful story. It took a white missionary to come and stop this practice amd rescue the women still on the island. But the dowry sytem is, as I said, still in place. If you can’t pay you don’t get the woman you love. Claire said that offering cattle for women back home would be seen as an insult but still Johnson carried on.
Johsson also seemed amazed that I was travelling with my wife, which seemed a bit bizarre.
Oh I forgot, as we were getting back on the boat a water taxi was just pulling in and there was a lady with red-tinted hair so Claire pointed at both tneir hair and said how much she liked hers. This got some smiles and then the word sister came up so I thought they meant tney were sisters because they both had red hair. But no. They were saying we looked like brother and sister…..never had that said before!
Also when we got back on board we didn’t put on our life jackets….now that’s what I call anarchy!
We passed zipwire island….guess what’s


there! There was also a treetop walk that looked quite interesting too but is out of the price range of local Ugangans apparently.
We clambered off the end of tne boat and up a steep bank so we could look like fools, after giving Alfred a tip. Johnson then walked us through the aforementioned market and very helpfully pointed at things we might not have known the name of….tomatoes…..shoes…..trousers…..good job he was with us!
Back at out lodge I gave Johnson a tip and said goodbye, Claire hopes it’s forever. After lunch we said we were going to take a walk and Charity said she could get Johnson to come with us. There are no prizes for guessing our answer.
And so off we set on our own thinking it would be nice to be out on our own ….just the two of us….
Claire saw a big hill and demanded I climb it. We were trying to get to the top so I suppose she was right but it was very steep, up a very uneven path that must be hell when it’s wet.
The direction we should be heading wasn’t obvious but then we saw a party heading


down from a fancy resort, so we headed in that direction.
We had been saying hello to any children that spoke to us but then two decided they were going to hang around with us. We did everything to shake them off-even heading into what they called ‘the bush’, standing still for ages….but still they hung around and stared. Claire asked them politely to leave us alone….this alone time wasn’t working out too well….but they still hung around even when Claire had to go quite a way away to wee.
Eventually Claire told them to stop following us and we were left in the middle of a tea plantation through which we finally found the fancy resort and were at the top. The views were pretty good of the lake and some of its islands and the weather was still good; dry and not too hot.
We then followed a road down and its probably somewhere that wuzungus don’t usually walk as we were quite the attraction.
The road was quite a long way round and we’d been out quite a while when we made it back to our accommodation. It was great to be out and about and walking


through local houses and see how they live. I don’t think I’ve ever said hello and waved to so many people but it’s nice that they are so friendly-just don’t follow us!
Tomorrow we leave for Kampala….at what time….who knows??


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#water #walking #friends #Uganda

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