Week 3 – Furniture, road trips and bribes…

Wednesday 23rd

We’ve been here over 3 weeks now and it’s starting to feel like home. Our quest for furnishing the house has continued with fabric purchased for curtains and cushion covers and some living room sofas purchased from ‘furniture street’. We even have a bed and mattress and bedside table in the spare room. We are almost ready for our guests.

Last week I went on the hunt for a good seamstress who could give me a fair price to make me some curtains for the bedrooms and cushion covers for some furniture that needed reupholstering that I bought from an expat who is leaving. I followed the lead of one of our neighbours but it didn’t quite go to plan and I ended up just wondering around reste corner stopping everytime I saw a sewing machine. I quickly found Brigit who hopped into the car with us and we headed ‘downtown’ to an area of fabric famous for stocking the kitenge print material we were after. We wanted something of the traditional kitenge but more understated. Downtown Kampala is mental. Literally crazy. People, bikes, bodas, cars  and matatus everywhere. All competing for the same space. It’s not for the faint hearted. We followed Brigit around making sure she had everything she needed to make the curtains and covers.

Next we needed a bed for the spare room and a sofa set for the living room. This meant a trip back to (as I call it) ‘carpenter street’. Opposite the American Embassy at the bottom of Ggaba road there is a line of carpenters who have an on street market place of sorts. It’s an incredible site with carpenters working on the side of the street and beds, stools, tables etc set out on display. It’s also mental. I walked from the bottom to the top asking everyone for the best and east Muzungo price they could give me for a double bed frame. I was quickly surrounded by carpenters and middle men trying to sell me a bed frame. Many asking for outrageous prices. It was hot and I was bothered, in the end I lost my temper and stamped my feet a bit. Eventually I got a price that seemed fairish and a deal was struck. Yay, our guests would have a bed. Good start. I left the sofas to Alex. He knew what he wanted and he found the set of sofas he was after. He picked me up from work one afternoon and deposited me by the carpenters to haggle. We reached a compromise and sofsa were bought. On a roll!

There’s still some bits we need but the house is starting to feel more like a home!

As I am working at a school this week is spring break so we decided to go away for a few days to Lake Bunyoni. Its a good 7 hour drive from Kampala but 6 and a half years ago when we were travelling through Africa I decided that this lake was in my top 5 favourite places in the world. (Just don’t ask me to name the other 4)…. After visiting it for the second time my opinion has not changed.

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It is such a calm and peaceful place. I woke up during the night one night and couldn’t get back to sleep because it was so quiet. The lake is safe for swimming and every ‘resort’ has little jetties where you can sunbathe and swim from. The water is warm(ish) and feels clean. The locals get around in dugout canoes. So did we and Madge.

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We originally planned to stay on one of the island camps but after a night then we didn’t think too much of Byoona Amagera and we decamped back to the mainland to Crater Bay cottages. At Crater Bay it felt like we had been there before.. we realised we had. It was where we stayed in 2009. It hadn’t changed much, was good value and friendly. We relaxed (Very unlike us) and swam and walked. It was lovely! As its sort of rainy season now the rain came down in true African fashion yesterday so as it was showing no signs of calming down we decided to head back to Kampala last night instead of this morning. It wasn’t the best decision as it meant driving after dark but it was good to get back and have a full day today to catch up and sort things out.

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It was on our long drive home that we got caught speeding…. 6/7 years ago we drove 17000 miles across Europe, the middle east and Africa. The only time I can recall seeing radar guns was when policeman would hide in trees in Tanzania. This time we were leaving a village and happened to be going a little bit (well 33 k to be exact) too fast. Despite our apologies and feigned ignorance at the speed limit (to be fair the speed limit signs are awful – completely unclear so we were not completely sure hat zone we were in) Mr Policeman was not having any of it and proceeded to begin issuing use with a quite hefty fine. Ofcourse… there was an alternative. So off we went on our not so merry way and there were 3 happy policeman left behind us. Despite 8 months traveling through Africa in 2009 we were never in this situation before. We don’t know the country well enough yet to know what to do if this arises again. Perhaps we should pay more attention to the speed limits (if we can see the signs) for starters….

 

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