Friday, 11 April 2008

Goodnight Entebbe.

The last thing you want to see. The absolute last thing. Let me be quite clear on this. THE VERY LAST THING YOU WANT TO SEE when coming in to land at an airport is the wreckage of a plane crash. This unfortunately is what welcomed us to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. This was the first thing that haunted me on the trip but it was not to be the last.

Considering I was already freaked out by the plane and crew that BA had provided for the trip this sight did nothing to calm my nerves. I suspect both the BA plane and crew had been pulled out of retirement for the sole purpose of delivering us to Entebbe. I'm not saying they were old but some of them were using the trolleys like zimmer frames (the crew that is). As for the plane.... well Insha Allah we took off and landed. Nuff said.

We were in Uganda to visit a charity that was set up to provide education to orphans (of which there are a lot due to the ravages of AIDS. We went through village after village where we would see children running around but no parents or at best only their grandparents). The charity itself was setup way outside Entebbe in a different town so we had a fair bit if travelling to do. We spent the first night in a hotel to acclimatise and then set off on the long journey.... to Shoprite. Yup Shoprite, where we bought various supplies and gifts for the kids. I should have stocked up on water and loo paper but more on that later.

The journey to the site of the charity was long and tortuous. On the way out of town I was actually quite amused to see the amount of activity going on in Entebbe itself. When I enquired why, I was informed that it was in anticipation of the Queen's arrival the following week for the Commonwealth Conference. Funny how governments can always find the money to spruce up the environment when dignitaries and more importantly TV cameras are expected. The streets were swept clean, the street lights fixed, not a single pothole in sight, government buildings painted, the works.

We arrived at the site and were overwhelmed by the welcome of the children. It was truly heartwarming and it was obvious some of them had not been this close to two Oyinbo ladies (Iyawo and a friend) and an extremely good looking chap (lol) for some time, if ever. This was the highpoint of the trip for me. If only I had known that then.

We were treated to a lovely but basic meal of rice and stew and also shown around the sprawling site which had started off as one building and had grown through donations into a nice little camp. We were especially impressed with the meticulous neatness of the kid's dormitories that even though they had to accommodate four kids to a room were immaculate. I silently wondered what the secret was. At dinner we were treated to a more formal welcome by the whole camp and were made to feel like stars (what with being on stage under bright lights,video cameras etc). Then it was time to retire for the night as we had a full schedule for the next day. We made our way to our two room guest shack (with sanitary bucket!) to settle down for the night. Being in the middle of nowhere there was no electricity so at 10pm it was lights out as the generator had to rest.

You will notice that I mentioned water and loo roll in one of the earlier paragraphs and then mentioned that we were fed on our arrival at the camp - twice. I also mentioned that there was a bucket in the shack for number ones. So this leads me on to a brief discussion of my scatological history. See I am as regular as clockwork. Rolex or Timex ain't got nothing on me. After breakfast. I go. After lunch. I go. After dinner. See you. Sometimes I even manage squeeze in a visit between those three. I am one of the unrecognised wonders of the world in that regard. So imagine my surprise to find that the camp could only offer basic amenities. Basically a hole in the ground in a hut on the camp's perimeter with little to no ventilation and flies, rats and other vermin as tourists and guests of the intrepid visitor. I mention all this for a specific reason so please bear with me.

I am not sure who woke up first -Iyawo or I, but it was clear that all was not well. We were hearing the most blood curdling screaming and wailing I have ever heard or hope to hear. Combine this with bursting bowels, a loo that was miles away and the overwhelming gloom of the darkness and you could perhaps understand how this was the second thing to haunt me.

Unfortunately it was not to be the worst. Or last.

To be continued.