Day 7 – 19th June 2007

It was certainly a long night last night. I went to bed early because I had a splitting headache thus I was extremely grumpy. You don’t want to face the grumpmeister! This came about because I was mentally exhausted from concentrating to understand other people’s talking. As you may be aware, I’m profoundly deaf and I have to rely on lip-reading some of the time, but with a large group, it certainly was a task as you wouldn’t know who was next to talk! I did feel I was being rude as I was being quiet and gave up after a while of following people’s conversations but thought it was best that I sleep to recover to save people of any further grumpiness of me!

A couple of hours later, I was woken to Burtie and Orla entering my dormitory and immediately cheered up from what happened next! As Burtie opened the door, a small bat came careening in and dive-bombed towards Orla. The reaction from Orla was utterly priceless and one of the funniest I’ve ever seen in my life. She screamed really loudly and did a shaky dance, both feet clattering off the floor and jumped backwards into her bed and wrapped her mosquito net around her, mummifying her, and carried on screaming cowering on her bottom bunk bed quivering. Burtie screamed as well, but she quickly recovering and armed with something I couldn’t see what, she thus chased it around the room cursing at it. Meanwhile, I thought I’d be a true gentleman and just laugh so hard that my sides hurt while I followed the bat with the torch. Finally, the bat got the message and flew out! I then slyly commented that it may have been one of the bats that like to draw blood out of your open toes as you sleep. This followed by a ‘SHUT UP ED!’ from Orla who was still alert for any more bats…and refused to leave that bed all night! I then went back to sleep with a grin on my face. My grumpiness was gone!

Slept rather soundly until the dawn light crept in the dormitory and saw Orla decked out in Ninja gear up in one of the roof corners getting ready to pounce…actually no that didn’t happen haha. Burtie wasn’t in her bed and must have been awake earlier as her ear splitting alarm clock went off! I scrambled over and switched it off and heard a terse ‘thank you!’ from one of the other rooms!

Issac is brilliant at cooking along with his funny pranks and teasing. He treated us to a pancake breakfast with peanut butter and honey. I chatted to Orla and Lucy about Orla’s ordeal and we had a good laugh despite Orla smiling and saying it wasn’t funny! We talked about the other wildlife that we all came across. But then I couldn’t take it anymore…I had to use the long drop again! Armed with toilet paper, I walked in the cubicle and saw flies buzzing out…will one of them bite my special place? After a few contortionist attempts of hitting the right target, I quickly left and gave an involuntary shudder..urrrggggh. Doherty who was waiting next gave a laugh and peeked in. I don’t know why but I felt the neccessity to remark to her ‘it was like that when I went in!’

I then took a shower, and it’s the best shower I’ve ever had! I’m sure you would say that if you felt dusty, grimey and smelly from the travels throughout Uganda! It was like a heavy downpour and the water cool. I also sang in the shower to the lizard that was in with me and basking in the spray.

By 12, after a talk by Fraggle about Murchison National Park, it was absolutely scorching and so bright that I donned my sunglasses for the first time. You may ask why I haven’t donned them before but my face tans really quick and even wearing sunglasses for an hour will make look like a Panda. A sexy panda that is.

To pass the time away to get to our next destination as it was dependent on the Nile Ferry, we played ultimate frisbee in which we jumped fearlessly of what may be a blank mamba snake waiting to trap us. The long grass certainly tickled our feet and the ground sandy even though we were far away from the Nile about 15 mins walk. Makes you wonder the size of the flooding!

We packed again and this time, the group was split into 2…1a and 1b. I was with 1b. After shaking of hands and hugging, the Beebies as we all called ourselves, walked to the River Nile with our backpacks on and saw a herd of elephants grazing in the distance. It was gorgeously enchanting and I saw an elephant in the wild! We continued watching them as we boarded the ferry. The final trip awaits.

After the ferry trip, we waited for Fraggle to take our backpacks in his jeep. Meanwhile, Phil, Sam W and I realised we were the only blokes amidst a large gaggle of girls and we immediately agreed to have ‘bloke hour’ every day! STarting immediately, we talked about..girls, elephants, girls, rugby, girls and food. And girls. After Fraggle collected our backpacks, we all walked down to Red Chilli bar and had a refreshing drink after the hot ferry journey. The bar had loads of foreign notes pinned to the walls ranging from Canadian, to the Tanzanian to the Australian. Just goes to show that North Uganda is slowly opening up to visitors. Fraggle came back with his empty he didn’t snatch our bags, just dumped them in the place we were staying at. Cheers Fraggle! And we all bundled in but some people had to ride on top. I had to hang on the back of the jeep and the girls inside was delighted with the view and set about immediately photographing my crotch pressed against the window. Cheers Girls!

We finally arrived at our final destination..Paraa Primary School. This school has been selected for refurbishment by Softpower Education and the lucky ones doing them with a few local builders? Yes you guessed right, us! When we arrived, we were faced with many kids quietly staring us. It might be that they’ve never seen white people before or confused to why the girls in the jeep still continued to photograph my crotch.

Under their stares, we moved our stuff in the outdoor hut which doubled as a classroom. This was to be our lodgings. We had a thin mattress to sleep on but it didn’t matter as I was keen to start refurbishing the school and I’m sure I don’t want to complain when the kids may have worse places to sleep. With those thoughts in mind, the Ugandan Wildlife struck again!

This time it was Burtie screaming and freaking out! She spotted something like a scorpion larvae crawling on her bed and was shouting it to move away! It ignored her and started crawling to the opening of her sleeping bag. Bad mistake. Crunch went the insect and up lifted Burtie’s shoe. Burtie 2, Wildlife 0.

Afterwards, after trying to connect the kids but they ran away everytime we approached, Boydy suddenly thought up of a great plan and pulled out an inflatable beach volleyball! The kids went absolutely MENTAL! They chased the balls around the grounds of the school shouting with laughter and all of us had grins on our faces. We did a few games with the balls as part of their extra-cirricular games and they absolutely loved it. I stopped to sit down for a minute and a kid came up to me and sat next to me inching closer and closer. He put a finger on my arm and proceeded to rub as if he was trying to get something off. This when I realised, he must have thought we were under white paint!

By 6.30pm, it was time for the kids to go home and some had far to walk! They already stayed too long on account of us and I hoped they would get back ok. As the sun set, I realised that I was literally in the middle of nowhere…out in the wild. Anything could get us! Bring it on! But the drop toilets were quite far so in the dark, we had to hug the school wall and then shine a torch round to see if a salivating leopard awaited us as we swung a torch back. Also, 2 trees were on the way so they may contain more salivating leopards and rabid babooons that land on you. Okay, this is my overimaginative mind, please do let this affect your planned trip to Uganda. It’s perfectly safe if you have your head screwed on tight.

Night fell, and bats swarmed all around us. Turns out that in the rafters of the school, there was a bat colony. I quickly glanced at Orla and she seemed ok except for her fingernails pressing into her palms. Bats were literally around us, no matter where you shine your torch, there will be a bat ‘vaiting to suck vour blood!’ haha. We also heard strange calls punctuating the night and we made one trip to the toilets en masse. I’m sure I know who was more scared, us screaming at a local who wandered into our path into our torch light or him being blinded and faced with 11 screaming white people! Aren’t they wary of the animals? The long drop again! This blog is number one loo orientated and number 2….(I couldn’t resist). The long drop wasn’t too bad if you took a whole gulp of air before walking in. I swear the hole is smaller…until I thought..child size?

The rest of the night was spent outside of the hut playing ‘in the spotlight’ which others ask you questions..almost like a game of ‘truth’! And then came another first..I got bit by a mosquito on my leg! Luckily, I was taking anti-malarial tablets.

We all climbed into our sleeping bags and Jaimie was determined not to have a bat in her mosquito net and pinned it to every available hook! Meanwhile, I studied the door as it was directly opposite my sleeping space and I would be the first thing that anything would see. But I’m sure the door was secure enough which could only be stopped by a wonky nail screwed into the doorframe. But I didn’t care, I reached my arms around my head and pondered the last 24 hours. I grinned. If it continues to be like this…I’m in for a magic time! Then Orla screamed thinking there was a bat!