Distance: 209 km / 130 mi
Elevation: 1,899 m / 6,230 ft
I think we stayed at a brothel this week. Really. The room was a shoebox and the toilet had no door, but for £4 it was fine. At check-in we admired the free condom dispenser on the wall — a bar/hotel reminding people to take care of their sexual health is very admirable indeed. We were also impressed by the bar menu: cheapest beer yet. When we got back from dinner, however, everything fell into place. We’d only been gone a couple of hours, but in that time, several trucks and cars had parked up and the bar was raving. Men and women were everywhere. It was a Wednesday. We awkwardly pushed through the neon party to our bed-sized room. The music blared on and over the proceeding hours we heard men and women open and close far too many doors, for how many rooms there actually were. A few people tried to get into our room and we appropriately yelled back, ‘someone’s in here’. It was a long night and one of the worst night’s sleep in a long while. So next time we spot a condom dispenser on the wall, we won’t praise it, we’ll turn around and look for somewhere else.
The brothel was actually at the very end of this week, so I guess I’ve started this blog post back-to-front. Let me continue that way, if it’s okay with you? Good.
Midweek we had the pleasure of camping at Bulogo Primary School, which is one of the schools East Africa Children’s Project works with. Within seconds of our tyres touching the school field we were surrounded by 750 students singing a welcome song. They practically pushed us to the teachers, who introduced themselves with the strongest handshakes and biggest smiles. It was a wonderful welcome. We then got a tour of the school off Headteacher Ruth and Teacher Jude, before we set up camp next to the teachers’ room. And we spent the evening hanging out with Deputy Head Samuel, who stays at Bulogo during the week to mind the kids who board.
Established in 1964, Bulogo Primary School is a government-funded school, which means the teachers’ salaries are covered, but there’s not much budget left for anything else. If there are any teachers out there, you’ll know that a school constantly needs something, whether that’s books, pens, desks, a refurb, sports equipment – even a new toilet door because the naughty kid booted it and broke it. Bulogo Primary School is no different. Rather than go without, however, teachers at the school took matters into their own hands to improve facilities for their students. Over the last ten years or so, they have researched and contacted charities that work in Uganda, to help them with their specific needs. Several charities have since helped Bulogo install a borehole, which the whole community now benefits from; a water tank that collects rain water, so the children can wash their hands after using the toilet; a ten acre veg patch, which provides enough corn to bake bread all year round; and a menstruation programme, which offers girls somewhere to bath as well as sanitary products, so they don’t skip school during their period.
Of course, Bulogo Primary School’s aspirations don’t stop there. The teachers were excited to share with us their plans for the future. Not only are they trying to secure funding to complete their seven new classrooms, they are also hoping to build a girls’ and boys’ dormitory, as the kids who board currently sleep in classrooms and they have more students who wish to stay. They also plan to monetise their vast amount of land, which was donated by the local church, by growing and selling mangos and coffee beans – this would provide them with a steady form of income.
It was fantastic to see some of the projects East Africa Children’s Project has worked on together with Bulogo Primary School, particularly the ten acre veg patch. We got to meet the cook, who was midway through baking the day’s bread from the harvested corn. EACP have also helped establish a sewing and dairy project, as well as providing some students with solar lights, so they can study at home. And they’ve twinned Bulogo Primary School with Hyde Park School in London, who now hold regularly fundraising activities, as well as taking part in a letter exchange, so the students can get to know each other better.
Here’s the bit where I ask you for money (again)…
If you haven’t donated already and can spare a few quid, we would be eternally grateful, as I am sure East Africa Children’s Project and the schools they work with would be, too. It really does make a difference. Want to hear more about EACP’s work with other schools? Visit eacpcharity.com.
We started the week with a couple of rest days in Jinja, which is a small touristy town on the edge of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria, as you might have guessed, was named after Queen Victoria. It’s also the world’s second largest fresh water lake – second to Lake Baikal in Russia (the one we planned to visit before we got kicked out). But none of that is what Jinja is famous for. The town’s claim to fame is being home to the source of the River Nile. Yes the River Nile that’s synonymous with Egypt. It’s funny we – the royal we – think of the Nile as Egyptian, as the 6,650 km (4,130 mi) waterway actually runs through Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan before it reaches Egypt. And did you now? The Nile actually has two sources: the White Nile, which starts in Jinja, Uganda; and the Blue Nile, which starts at Lake Tana, Ethiopia.
We didn’t just nerd up on the Nile while in Jinja, we also had a much-needed date night. Dan and I spend 24-7 together and have done for nearly a year now. Most of that time is spent cycling or setting up camp or cooking or washing the pots or cleaning our clothes or fixing the bikes or route planning or photo editing or blog writing… I think you get the point. We were in need of a date night. And so that’s what we did. We threw the budget out of the window for one day, put on our best dress (least smelliest clothes), and went out for dinner and drinks. It was fabulous and we got considerably drunk, ending the night in typical ‘us’ fashion: with several night caps until the small hours, while queueing eclectic music on Spotify and debating, not for the first time, the high and lows of the artists’ careers of said eclectic music.
Now you know you’ve sunk a lot when you can’t remember how many times you dashed back to the hotel bar. Instead we had to count the Nile bottles strewn around the room. Twelve. Plus two at dinner. And two in the hotel bar. We. Were. Hanging. We haven’t drunk that much for a very long time. Dare I admit we were so hungover we both puked. Needless to say we spent the whole day in bed, only venturing as far as the hotel bar for cold Cokes. Everyone needs a blow out from time to time. Now it’s back to the budget and sober cycling.
And since we’re now at the beginning of the week, that means it’s the end of the blog. Bit of a topsy turvy blog post this week – but a bit of a topsy turvy week, wouldn’t you agree?
East Africa Children’s Project
If you haven’t donated yet, what are you waiting for? Get your hand in your pocket and throw a few quid in the pot. Maybe these jokes might help. Click on your fave.