here, there, everywhere

Jinja

In Africa, Uganda on January 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

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Self-explanatory

A little to the north-east of Kampala is the town of Jinja where the source of the White Nile is located.  The plan was to head out early in the morning and spend the day there before heading back to the city.  Two of my friends from the Murchison Falls trip organized the expedition and picked me up around 8am.  After stopping for breakfast we were on Jinja Road which is packed with cars due to all the factories off the highway; it’s also the main road to the Kenyan border.  All this combined with the potholes means the 81km journey takes closer to 2-3 hours if you’re able to avoid traffic and it seemed as though we might be lucky this day. The ride up was uneventful and quick-ish and soon we were in the lush surroundings of the town.  We stopped in at my host’s friends house where we stretched our legs and enjoyed a few cold Club beers before heading to the water to catch a boat to somewhere out in the lake.  The boats were moored on the shore of the Kingfisher Lodge resort filled with white people lounging and chilling out.  We quickly found a boat and driver but were short on fuel, so someone went to fetch enough for the trip and returned with 3 plastic water bottles full.

It’s one of the things I love about non-North American countries, the lack of stringent rules which make life more complicated back home.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love having a good societal structure in place, but sometimes I think we make up all these rules and regulations out of fear.  More on that later and now back to the boat.

We hopped in the boat and headed out into Lake Victoria.  As we got closer to the source we could see tiny  man-made islands which are the remnants of the diversion from years ago when the Bujagali power station was built.  The largest of the islands is where the White Nile starts from.  When we arrived after a 10-15 minute ride, fishermen were in their boats on the bank with their rods in the water fishing for Nile Perch.  We climbed out and made our way to the sign at the front of the island to take pictures for proof we had been there.  There was also a little gift shop and bar where you could buy Ugandan crafts and/or beer.

After finishing the requisite browsing, we hopped back in the boat to get to the other side.  We docked and headed up the incline to see the statue of Gandhi.  Gandhi had never been to Uganda but he wanted his ashes spread on the Nile so his wish was honoured.  Now there’s a monument to him there, I guess to remind people of the importance of this place, but I found the steps leading up to the bust far more interesting.  Apparently the Queen was coming to visit this area in 2007 and the British High Commission sent people ahead to check out the terrain.  They gave an engineering firm detailed instructions of how to build steps from the river up to the monument and they must be just so in height and depth so the Queen wouldn’t have to exert herself.  The construction was finished and as you can see in the picture below it’s all very nice, but in the end the Queen did not come; Charles and Camilla did instead.  No one was able to tell me if their climb up was uncomfortable since they have longer legs but I can tell you steps is steps, they all take effort.

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Steps the Queen can walk up (but didn’t) and so can you!

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Have a read

We eventually got to the parking lot at the top of the hill populated with tourist traps for trinkets, art work, and animal sculptures, and jumped in the truck to go for lunch.  My host’s friend used to manage the bar at one of the local watering holes and hotel so we sat down to a great meal of fish, chips, and cold beer.  I’m deficient when it comes to identifying plants and animals, but I’m told I had a whole tilapia which was very tasty.  My hosts tried to convince me to open up the head and eat the eyes and brain, so I at least attempted to dig those suckers out, but I lost my nerve when I finally discovered the brain which looked like black mold.  Of course everyone laughed and said no one eats that stuff, but then one friend said he really liked the brain and proceeded to chow down.  Ick.  We hung out around the table for a few hours shooting the breeze and enjoying the winds that cooled the surroundings down just a little.  All my friends are great storytellers so there were loads of anecdotes about the town, the dam’s construction, and goings on in the area.

We got back on the road around 6pm and had smooth sailing for maybe the first 45km but then got caught in the evening rush.  Fortunately my friend was not afraid of driving on the shoulders and he knew the back roads into the city so we probably shaved an hour off with his expertise.  It was one of my favourite afternoons up to that point; laid back, relaxed, and entertaining.  If you’re ever in the neighbourhood you should definitely check it out.

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