Sunday, 25 July 2010

Misadventures in Mombasa and beyond

The girls travelled off to Nairobi, the night we got back from Murchison, leaving Kampala at around 2.30am in order to catch the first flight to Nairobi.  The plan was that they would follow the route we had taken when we went to Mombasa some time back.  I received a text message to say that the night train to Mombasa wasn't running that night, and so I put my travel agent hat back on...  After several hours of frantic phone calls to bus companies and airlines in Nairobi, and hotels in Mombasa, flying round Kampala on the back of a boda boda to the airline offices, the girls had tickets to Mombasa and an extra night's accommodation at the Castle Royal Hotel.  When they arrived at the Castle Royal, it turned out that there had been no running water for 3 days, and their room was a dump.  It also transpired that there was no other accommodation available in the city.  Travel agent hat went on once more, and although they had to spend the night where they were, the Serena beckoned the next night.  

I flew out to meet them, arriving at the hotel on Saturday morning.  The Swahili coast was as breathtaking as I remember it being, the suntan lotion was slapped on and I thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the rays - it felt like I had been in the hospital for so long without having a weekend to properly relax.  Heather and Rebecca took a ride on a camel, and I wandered along the beach, chatting to the touts.  Miriam sells Kangas to tourists.  It was the usual 'look at my stall' in the beginning.  I rarely buy stuff when I'm away, I seem to get it home and it's never quite as nice as you thought it was when you bought it.  And so I plugged my usual 'I've been here for a long time, I have a lot of this stuff and I don't need any more'.  Then I got the 'I have to feed my family' line.  I asked Miriam whether she was married... She said that her Kanga stall was her husband, 'Much less hassle than a human one, doesn't argue, answer back or drink my profits away'.  I agreed to consider going back and having a closer look the next day.  In the distance, somewhere in the direction of the camel, I could hear the girls, now with an entourage of beach boys, singing 'Jambo Jambo' and smiling to myself, I wandered and found a place to sit and breathe in the fresh sea air.  

That evening we had planned to revisit the Tamarind Dhow for a dinner cruise, but learned that both boats were in the work shop for repair.  We settled for dinner at the Tamarind Restaurant instead, that was delicious, oysters, crab and prawns being the order of the day.  Returning back to the hotel, sleepy and sated, I fell asleep swiftly and had the best night's sleep in ages.  The girls had an early flight via Nairobi to Zanzibar, I had a direct flight mid-afternoon, and so took the opportunity of a lie in...

Arriving at the airport in good time, excited about the prospect on being in the tin can for less than an hour, I walked up to the check in desk and presented my passport to receive the dreaded words 'Your flight has been cancelled'.  'What?!'.  'We can fly you to Nairobi tonight, there are no more flights to Zanzibar today'.  'You're going to fly me to Nairobi?  I don't want to spend a night in Nairobi'.  It seemed, however that I didn't have a choice.  And so, off to Nairobi I went, on my own, feeling very pissed off and a little bit sorry for myself.  I had been so excited at the prospect of sitting in the cliff top restaurant at Coral Rock in Jambiani, with a glass of Kilimanjaro as the sea breeze blew in through the open terrace.  

Instead I found my self in the Panari Hotel, a gaudy business hotel with as much atmosphere as a vacuum and decor to match.   I settled myself into a striped black and white faux leather chair and wept into my beer as Germany thrashed England in the football.  Since Kenya Airways were footing the bill, I decided I wasn't going to pay extra for an a la carte meal, and settled for the buffet.  Big mistake.  I woke up at 3am with cramp.  By the time the bus came to collect us and take us to the airport I had become very friendly with the hotel toilet.  As I sat on the plane, I realised that it was not going to be a pleasant flight.  Unable to stomach any food, I really fancied a sip of orange juice.  As I took my second gulp, the captain pointed out Mount Kilimajaro on the right hand side, which I was unable to appreciate as I reached for the airsick bag and emptied my stomach of the previous night's meal.  The woman sleeping next to me didn't even stir, and the stewards ignored the bell.  I was grateful that the bag was wax lined as I carried it up the middle of the plane to dispose of it, chuckling at the message 'If this bag is used for airsickness purposes, please hand it to the steward'.  For a minute, I had contemplated depositing it in the seat pocket.   

The girls came and met me at the airport, with a day of activities planned.  Feeling slightly less peaky, we drove to a spice farm.  Having no sense of smell, is a drawback on this sort of tour, but I was interested to see the processes involved, and what spices actually look like before someone dries, grinds, bottles them and ships them off to Tesco.  Our guide showed us nutmeg, cinnamon, berries for making lipstick, hacking stuff down from trees and putting them into a banana leaf funnel to take home.  We got to the cloves... 'These are cloves'.  'That's lovely, where's your toilet?', as I was gripped by the familiar rumble, accompanied by a profuse cold sweat.  'Now?'.  'Now, now!'.  I was shown to the thatched toilet hut, knowing full well what was I was going to find inside.

At the age of 9, we took a family holiday to Scotland.  Having just left the castle that we had paid a fortune to get into, and entered the forest for a walk, I decided that I absolutely had to pee.  So I was instructed to go behind a tree.  As I squatted, my brother leaped out from behind said tree, scared the living daylights out of me, and I pissed all over my own trouser leg.  Since then, I have had major issues with peeing outside, or in squat latrines.  The words 'Asian toilet' send shivers down my spine.  Try as I may, I just cannot master the art of piddling in a hole in the ground.  And this time, I was not worried about urinating on myself.  It was something far, far worse.
I thought I was better, having relieved myself, and attempted to join in the rest of the spice tour, taking in one further spice - could have been bloody anything for all I know - before running back to the hut, making an executive decision to lose the trousers completely and whistle loudly to scare off other would be toilet users.  20 minutes later, I emerged and parked myself on a bench, lying still and wanting to die, while the rest of the group finished off the tour and had lunch.  They were deposited in Stone Town and I went to the hotel.

I was greeted by Pedro at Coral Rock, who gave me the option of 2 rooms.  'N2, that's the honeymoon suite right?'.  'Yes'.  'I'll take that'.  'Do you want to look at the rooms first?', 'No thank you, I'd like to go to the toilet, get into bed and feel sorry for myself', 'Oh, OK'.  And that's precisely what I did.  When Heather and Rebecca got back from their tour I joined them for a coke, skulking back to my room by 9 and stumbling back into bed.  So much for Island Paradise.  The next morning, I felt significantly better and we took a walk out to the channel to swim in the sea.  I had forgotten how blindingly white the sand was and how warm the water was.  Once more I really did feel like I'd found Heaven on Earth.  A tentative bland lunch seemed to be the way forward, and the afternoon was spent chilling by the pool and reading.  Remembering how good the food was the last time I was there, and craving some real sustenance, I opted for fish, which was delicious.  

My stomach begged to differ, and I was back to square one.  Once more my Zanzibar odyssey becoming a bed bound adventure.  Along with the bad weather, it served to sabotage our planned boat trip.  I can think of worse places to have gastroenteritis, but it's a bloody expensive place to do it.  Coke and water arrived at regular intervals, and by 4.30 I was feeling well enough to decamp to the pool for a quick dip in the water.  I was not much of a fun travelling companion.  Fortunately we rearranged the boat trip for the next day.  Once more, however, stormy weather off the coast, was to meddle with our plans again.  Instead, we headed back to Stone Town, this time I was feeling much better.  We meandered through the maze of streets, stumbling across little boutique clothes and craft shops, enjoying the leisurely pace, bartering with shop keepers and soaking up the atmosphere.  We found the Persian baths, a crumbling testament to former Stone Town days, stunning in their own way, but in need of a little TLC.  We stopped for a coffee before plodding onwards past the markets in the hunt for 'Two Tables' restaurant.  Down a back alley, this place is actually someone's house, that opens  in the evening for dinner.  Consisting of two tables in a conservatory of sorts, it's a gem.  We rang the bell, and heard someone shout down from an upstairs window.  We shouted up that we wanted 3 places for dinner, and were told to return for 7.30.  We continued on to Africa House for a leisurely lunch on the terrace, overlooking the harbour, in the company of 3 menacing monkeys that were trashing the bar with the help of 3 unruly children.

We wandered and shopped a bit more, calling into the Old Fort, and unsuccessfully bartering for some bowls, our final stop of the day was the 'House of Wonders'.  The first house in Zanzibar to have electricity and an elevator, it had clearly seen better days.  The hand stitched Dhow was interesting, but in reality, the Museum is badly laid out and badly maintained.  Which is a real shame, as it could be wonderful.  We wandered into the night food market, sampling some sugar cane juice and grilled bread fruit, watching boys jump into the water from the harbour walls, with varying degrees of acrobatic skill.  We stopped for a beer, before heading back to Two Tables.

On arrival, we were greeted by the head of the household, and invited to take a seat downstairs, and a small living room full of bric-a-brac, that would give any British Antique shop a run for its money.  After a short while, we were invited upstairs to the dining room.  We were served soup, followed by lentil curry and the most delicious Mandazi I have ever eaten, a portion of vegetable croquettes witha  spiced coconut dipping sauce, a small meat kebab, Marlin in coconut curry and fried Elephant bananas to finish.  It was gut busting, delicious, a wonderful experience - the family sat and watched TV as we ate - and incerdible value for money at $15.  Thorooughly recommended and worth hunting for.  Stuffed, we found our driver and headed back to Coral Rock.  We were greeted by a drunken Neil - the owner - who wanted to know what had happened to me since my last visit and why I wasn't being savage.  I explained that I'd been unwell, whereupon he insisted on buying us a drink and made us do the pub quiz which we'd missed.

Suddenly it was our last Zanzibari day.  The weather was dreadful, and plans to snorkel in the channel off the beach thwarted by torrential rain.  No sooner had we set off for the airport at midday, than the skies cleared.  It was a long day of travelling, arriving in Entebbe at around 8.45pm, as our plane was delayed.  James dropped us at Emin Pasha, where we met back up with Lorraine to hear about her 2 weeks at fistula camp, and travelling around South West Uganda.  We decided on a take out curry, which we ate in the hotel room on Emin Pasha's finest crockery, washed down with a few beers.  It was a late night in the end, I got home at around 1.  The following morning, Heather, Rebecca and Lorraine flew back to Blighty.  Having them around for a month had been great fun, it had been fantastic to share Mulago and some experiences there, but also the things we had done together outside the hospital.  I realised I was going to miss them all immensely, and that at the same time them leaving also indicated that with 4 weeks left in Uganda, my time was coming to a close too.

Photos are here

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A Bad Case of the 51's

Heather and Lorraine spent a further week at Mulago.  On the Monday morning I learned that we would not be able to move the HDU project any further forward due to building works happening elsewhere on the ward.  This was disappointing news as I had been reassured that the space we had created the HDU in was not going to be affected by the works, and a number of people had put a lot of time and effort into what we had managed to achieve already.  This news has unfortunately dampened my enthusiasm to push the project forward - which is a real shame as I felt I was going to be able to leave some sort of lasting legacy.  C'est la vie, as they say.

We ran a skills training morning which we opened up to all staff.  Disappointingly, only the midwives attended, but there were 15 in the group.  We covered Eclampsia, PPH, shoulder dystocia, neonatal resuscitation and vaginal breech delivery.  It was a really fun morning and I think that the staff enjoyed it as much as we did.  

We spent a drunken night making a poster illustrating cervical dilatation and positions of the fetal head...  I haven't had the guts to look at it again, as wielding a ruler, pencil and Pritt Stick after a third of a bottle of gin cannot possibly bode well for a professional looking product.  We were mostly on labour ward - and for the most part it was reasonable, apart from one day when I had been to meet a friend for lunch, and arrived to find Heather and Lorraine muttering curses as they ran from patient to patient.  The theatre was not up and running, the list was overspilling and there were several women who were causing concern.  Finally we got moving, and stayed around until the last patient that we had been involved with had been delivered - baby and Mum both did well.

Rebecca Smyth joined us that Friday, and the girls all moved out of Mulago Guest House and into Emin Pasha - a far superior abode.  I met them for dinner and drinks.  We made the mistake of eating a salad...

On Saturday morning, we hired a driver for the day, for our grand tour of Kampala.  Alfred collected Adam and I from the house, the three girls from the hotel and a radiotherapist called Kate from the guesthouse.  We then travelled to the Kasubi tombs, and important historical site, which is the burial place of four Kabakas (Buganda Kings).  The tombs were destroyed by fire back in March, but the site is still very interesting.  The tombs are tended by the wives of the Kabaka and subsequently their descendants.  Around the central building - ravaged by fire, covered in tarpaulin and a mess of mangled metal - are small thatched huts where the tomb attendants dwell.  As we entered the complex, we met the Prime Minister of Buganda, and spoke to him about how work was going on to reconstruct the tombs.  It turned out that there was a Buganda Princess with an entourage at the tombs that morning.  We wandered round, receiving snippets of information from our guide and meeting various people.  

We met an elderly lady who was responsible for looking after the tombs, sitting outside her hut wrapped in a large piece of barkcloth.  Our guide introduced the ladies in the group to her, and we each greeted her.  Because women are considered subservient, Adam was not permitted, due to custom, to greet her.  However, she let him know, that even though she couldn't greet him because of tradition, she 'loved him just the same'.  Our brief tour of the site concluded with our guide showing us a list of the different Buganda clans.  Heather happened to notice that clan 51, known as the Ekitibwa, was translated in the list as 'Shit'.  This obviously appealed to our inner schoolchild, especially since it is not permitted to eat the thing your clan is named after, and you're not allowed to marry a fellow clan member.  In other words, if you're a member of the Ekitibwa clan, you can't eat shit, and you can't marry shit.  I think I'd be ok with that.

From here we travelled to the Kabaka's Palace, to visit one very specific part of the site.  The Kabaka's palace itself, is not accessible, but the grounds contain an important and sinister piece of history.  Idi Amin constructed a concrete bunker here, where he and his soldiers incarcerated people and tortured them.  The chamber itself is accessed down a slope, flanked by imposing concrete walls.  The doors of the bunker are no longer there, nor are the sliding doors covering each of the 4 large cells, but it's complete enough to give you a sense of what it must have looked like.  The cells are raised up off the ground by about 3 feet, and the open part of the chamber was filled with water.  On the walls are bloody handprints and smears, and graffiti, inscribed by prisoners, and latterly by family members who suspect their relatives were victims.  It is a dark, dank, oppressive place.  In the far corner is a cockroach nest, and there's a colony of bats that move from one chamber to the next to roost.  I was glad to get back out into the fresh air, even though the heavens had just opened.

After the oppression of the torture chambers, and lunch, we headed to the National Museum, to examine the dust coated relics, paying particular attention to the educational text accompanying the exhibits.  For example, if you didn't know much about paleontology, a fossil is something which has been dug up.  Thanks for that.  I am now much wiser about what fossils are.  We stopped for a drink and a spot of craft shopping before heading back to the hotel to meet Judith Ajeani for a farewell drink.  Heather managed to miss the entire farewell session, in favour of spending time visiting the bathroom, and my stomach also decided that I couldn't participate for long.  We both ended up with a severe attack of the '51's'.  I headed home and spent the night burning up with fever, as the world fell out of my bottom.
We were due to head to Murchison early the next morning.  I felt like 51.  I called the girls and by this point Rebecca was also unwell.  And so instead of spending time journeying to visit the wildlife, the day was whiled away drinking flat coke and eating rich tea biscuits.  Having been relatively fortunate in my time here, I realised that complacency had got the better of me, where food was concerned.  Fortunately we were able to rearrange our Murchison trip, thanks to good old Fast Eddie.  Taking Monday to fully recover - and utilising the time to take Rebecca round the hospital and buy some more Africrap (read: souvenirs), finishing with a barbecue and copious deviled eggs - we started our trip to Murchison bright and early on Tuesday morning.

Fast Eddie excelled himself - literally - by making it to Masindi in 3 hours flat.  We ploughed on to the top of the Falls, where we took a leisurely stroll around.  What initially started out as 'This is a pleasant walk' swiftly turned into 'Kate Alldred, when I get my hands on you...' as the heat and terrain took its toll on a certain group member (Smyth).  Fast Eddie was on hand to help - thankfully - and everyone made it back to the car in one piece, nobody having been murdered, albeit sweatier and dustier than when we'd started out.  

We moved on to the Red Chilli Camp, and the boat launch.  Eddie had booked us onto a tiny boat, that carried no beer on board.  Not what I had requested and I told him so, in a fit of childlike tantrum, demanding to go on 'the big boat with the cool box'.  It worked.  I think it was my outburst that caused karma to break my camera, just as I was about to get a National Geographic head on shot of an elephant by the water.  The beer, however, was ice cold and delicious.  The usual assortment of game were out playing, with a particular abundance of elephants this time, and a good trip was had by all.  After a refreshing cold shower, dinner and a bottle of Nile, I was knackered and in bed by 9.  The game drive the next morning was great, with a tentative sighting of a leopard - which was a black silhouette skulking between two bushes - and a shoebill stalk.  There were dozens of giraffe out too, and a lot of the game was quite close to the track whereas previously ithe animals have usually kept their distance.  On the way out of the park we had 15 minutes of being attacked by Tsetse flies in the car, and a mass execution of trapped flies - using a copy of the Bradt guide as a weapon - ensued.  All flies out of the car we travelled to the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, stopping for lunch in Masindi on the way.

At the rhino sanctuary, we tracked a family of rhinos, Baby Obama, who is just a year old, was stomping around with Mum and dad keeping a close eye on him.  We had a slightly hairy moment after Mum got annoyed with Dad and Obama's play fighting and charged him.  Dad then contemplated charging us and stood pawing the ground, facing us, as the rangers talked him down.  It was a privilege to see the family interaction and a worthwhile detour on the way back to Kampala.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Doris Days 2

Two further conversations that have occurred with Doris in the past couple of weeks - slightly out of sync with the blog, but I have to write them down before I forget...

Doris; 'James, I have been seeing on the television, the thing that picks the football, youu know, you eat it sometimes'
James; 'What?'
Doris; 'You know, the thing for dinner, that picks the winner'
James; 'The what?!'
Doris; 'On the television, the thing with the legs like the spider'
James; 'Oh, the octopus!'

And then last night...

Doris; 'I saw it again, the thing like the flower, that lives in the water'

Today, on returning from work...

Doris; 'Kate, is Adam around?'
Me; 'Not yet, he'll be back, but later'
Doris; 'You tell him he needs to pay the cabbage for 3 months'
Me; 'The what?'
Doris; 'The cabbage people, they need the money for the cabbage for 3 months'
Me; 'Cabbage?'
Doris; 'Yes, you know that you put outside'
Me; 'Garbage?'
Doris; 'Yes, cabbage'
Me; 'OK, I'll tell him.  So what about the water, we were supposed to pay them weren't we'
Doris; 'Ah, I don't know when they are coming back'
Me; 'You don't know when they're coming back?'
Doris; 'No, it's because they're Indian'
Me; 'Right.'
Doris; 'Also, the liquid soap.  It is finished'

Can I bring her home with me?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

How Many Ugandans Does It Take To Get a Midwife Down a Mountain?

Heather Nunnen and Lorraine Dinardo arrived from Liverpool one drizzly Saturday afternoon at the beginning of June, which seems such a long time ago.  I was excited about them arriving and about working with them at Mulago, but also nervous about what they would think of Mulago, and also about how I have adapted to the environment here and how that reflects in my clinical practice.  We had a very action packed 2 weeks at the hospital, and an equally action packed social calendar.  Which started almost immediately on arrival, with several beers and a curry, and confirmed my suspicion that we would be working hard, and playing hard too.

We spent Sunday doing the leisurely tourist intro to Kampala, including an obligatory trip to the craft shop 'Banana Boat' and met up with Alice Alum, who is the manager of the midwifery led labour ward here at the hospital.  Sunday evening kicked off with 7 of us piling into a car made for far fewer people, and as the resident hobbit, I drew the short straw, sprawling myself across the girls in the back seat, wedging my head up against the window and bracing myself for the potholes.  We arrived at the Ndere Cultural centre for a night of traditional dancing and entertainment.  We went on a cultural journey around Uganda, with most areas being represented in varying forms of colourful hip shaking, bum wiggling dance.  A number of staff from Mulago joined us, as well as a team from Canada and my housemates.  It was a fantastic show.

Monday started in earnest with the morning meeting, introductions to notable people within the department and a tour of the hospital.  The labour ward was fortunately quite quiet, although at the end of our tour round, we came across a flat baby that needed quite a lot of resuscitation, taking him to special care and commencing CPAP.  He recovered reasonably well, but it highlighted some of the problems that we face here.  We debriefed over a few beers and an Ethiopian in the evening.

Tuesday was a day of bureaucracy, and Heather and I trudged to the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the searing heat, to collect her registration certificate.  And got sunburnt.  We wandered back to Mulago, stopping to buy grilled sweet potatoes, and taking in the scenery of Wandegeya - coffin makers, cabinet makers, stalls selling everything from shoes to bath taps - before returning to the hospital.  I hosted a barbecue in the evening for everyone involved in the partnership, which went down well.  The star of the evening, however, was Alice's one-year-old daughter Anneke, who caught and held Heather and Lorraine's attention for much of the night.

Wednesday was a national holiday - Heroes Day - and so after some craft shopping at the National Theatre we went out to visit Enid at the orphanage in Buddo.  It's some time since I visited Enid last so it was nice to go back there and see how she and the children are doing.  Enid prepared a simple lunch of matoke with g-nut sauce, greens and beans, which we ate in her home with her mother. At Enid'e request, Agnostic Alldred, managed to stumble through something resembling a prayer, dragged from the back of my catholic educated mind, and we were then able to share our meal.  It was delicious.
After lunch we met the children, and Heather and Lorraine gave the stickers, books, pens, crayons, balls, parachuting men and a whole other selection of goodies to Enid for the children.  It was less of a free-for-all than the last time we went.  Enid told us a bit about her life, and how she got to where she is now, what life at the orphanage means to her and about her family.  We mucked around with the kids for a while before they migrated to their rooms, or towards the TV, and after a farewell prayer we headed back to Kampala and settled down for a Ghanaian meal.  It had been an emotional afternoon, which manifested itself as a need to have 'just one more beer'.  And for once, it was not me doing the encouraging!  We met my housemates at the casino - Avner was due to leave town and was having a blow out - which made for a late night.

On Thursday I pottered onto labour ward at precisely the wrong moment.  In the space of an hour we delivered 3 stillborn babies and dealt with a woman who had what we thought to be an eclamptic fit.  It was total chaos and by the time it started to settle we were knackered!  The day continued in the same sort of vein.  On Thursday, Norfolk Enchants hosted the best/worst pub quiz (delete as appropriate) ever conducted in the history of the world, at Bubbles O'Leary.  The major advantage to having to write and present the quiz is a free bar all night.  Which we took advantage of, since it would have been rude not to.  Friday was an admin (hangover) day for me, Lorraine stayed on labour ward and Heather went up to ward 14 for the day.  I arranged for the carpenter to return to measure up for the mosquito grilles on HDU. On Friday night, we had a leaving party for Avner, who has finished his time in Uganda.  Was gutting to see him leave, but we have many fond memories of the hairy Mexican/Egyptian/Israeli/Khazakstani Jew wandering round the house in nothing but pornographis moustache and a small towel.  I can hear him say 'Antisemite' at that sentence.  It was drunken, and ended at some ungodly hour of the morning.  And then we got up to drive to Sipi Falls the next morning.

Fast Eddie arrived at the house at some horrifically early time after the party.  Chi had slept in so we were a bit late staring out but Adam, Chi, Mbarara Mike and I piled into the van and picked up Heather, Lorraine and a random dude called Jason, from the guest house.  Eddie lived up to his name and before we knew it we were in Jinja, eating rolex for breakfast.  On the road out of Jinja, we were leafleted through the van window, much to Adam's annoyance.  The leaflets were advertising a Dr Brown and Professor JK, and claimed to be able to cure diabetes, improve your sex drive and get rid of the Tokoloshe (a dwarf-like water sprite or zombie), amongst 26 other wild claims.  I kept the phone number, just in case...  The journey was otherwise uneventful, apart from a torrential rain storm breaking just as the mountains came over the horizon.  We reached the Sipi River Lodge at around 2pm, and had lunch of sandwiches and locally grown, roasted and ground coffee.  After sorting out who was sleeping in which banda, we decided to go for a hike to the top two falls out of the three that make up Sipi Falls.

And so the fun began.  It was steep and it was slippy, and our guide didn't quite know what he'd let himself in for.  We got to the top of the first waterfall, before we started collecting people.  A number of children began to crowd around Heather, one or two at first and then a whole throng.  We heard lots of giggling, and at each corner when she caught up with us, she had more flowers about her person - in her hair, shirt, behind her ears - than before, and seemingly more kids.  We were almost stampeded by a crazed cow that came hurtling down the track, but veered off into a field and crashed through a farmer's fence instead.  We reached the base of the second fall, by now with around 12 children in tow.  We spent a few minutes taking photos in ridiculous poses before starting the trek down hill.  It turns out that our newly found troupe of children came in handy for steadying 'Grandma' as they had affectionately named H,  on her descent, as the track was slippy.  Ahead of the group this time, slips were usually preceded and followed by a loud 'AaaghAAAghArgh!', from Heather, and the accompanying infectious cackle of one of the kids, with or without a crash through  the undergrowth.  Naturally this set the rest of us off laughing and in some instances a domino of slips too.  We made it down from the mountain as night fell, covered in mud and soaked through from falling.  A welcome beer and a home cooked meal awaited us, and after a hearty feed and more coffee, we stumbled back to our banda and fell asleep to the sound of rushing water from the falls, and the creaks of the bunk beds as people shifted around.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and then set off to tackle the lowest and largest of the three falls.  Heather elected to stay behind at the lodge and write postcards.  She definitely chose the sensible option, and I envied her choice as we slipped and slid down to the bottom of the falls only to get absolutley soaked on the way back up.  The views were spectacular though, and it was a great way to work off the previous night's dinner.  We had lunch before departing, getting 5 minutes down the road before Mike declared he had left his watch in the dorm.  We turned back to pick it up, I got paranoid and decided I had left my ipod - which I hadn't, it was in my bag all along - so frantically rummaged through my bags and the dorm only to find it in the last place I could possibloy have looked.  Chi jumped out of the van declaring that she had left her brain behind, at which point we realised we were all being ridiculous, and we set off back to Kampala for the second time.

We reached Kampala late, had dinner and headed home, ready for another week at Mulago, refreshed after a fantastic weekend in the great outdoors...

Photos are here