Liz In Uganda


6th December 08

We had a great week in Lamu including their 'cultural festival'. The trip there was not so smooth. We arrived at Entebbe airport at 4.00am only to be told that our onward flight from Nairobi to Lamu did not exist! How could Kenya Airways confirm a flight that doesn't exist, we asked, not unreasonably. Staff shrugged, that flight has been cancelled, go to Nairobi and we'll find you another flight. So we did but all flights that day were fully booked so we stayed a night in Nairobi and eventually arrived at Lamu late the next afternoon. How about our flight back, we asked. Ah, cancelled too, come back the day before but there's no connection at Nairobi for Entebbe. No! We managed to book on another flight on the right day that did connect and eventually managed to get the full cost refunded by Kenya Airways. To give them their due Kenya Airways did meet all our hotel, food and transport costs and only took a little nagging to increase the refund from $35 to the full ticket price (about $110). But it turned out that Kenya Airways had stopped flying this route a month ago, how on earth could they manage to continue to accept and confirm bookings? We won't use them again.

But Lamu was as beautiful as ever and the cultural festival was great fun. We stayed at the Sunsail Hotel and could watch many of the activities from the comfort of our balcony. The dhow racing was tricky due to high winds and fiercely competitive. Some dhows capsized during the race and several capsized in sheer exuberance at the end. But my, these guys really know how to sail in rough conditions. The donkey racing was limited to the under 18s and also fiercely competitive. I have to say on the whole the donkeys enjoyed it as much as we did and were well treated. As they raced along the seafront, we watched people scattering as they hurtled through! There were also swimming races from the old jetty to the new one, again very hard because of the wind, boats watched carefully for stragglers and rescued them very efficiently. What the swimmers lacked in style they made up for in enthusiasm. The traditional dancing was, well, dull. It seemed to go on for hours and involved a lot of drumming and very little movement, just a row of men with sticks. Perhaps we just didn't understand the significance... The last couple of days we spent at the Stopover hotel on Shela beach, a simply delightful spot. We took a dhow over to Manda Island for a gourmet lunch at Diamond Beach. If you want an ecological but luxury holiday then this is the place to be. The white sandy beach goes on forever and the swimming is glorious - made more fun by a group of young boys who wanted to learn from us! We managed to avoid any further problems and the trip back to Uganda was gratifyingly straightforward.

I've worked too! It's useful to be in Kampala where I've met with USDC and several other partners. Nicola and I are close to finalising a funding programme for MVRC where she will concentrate on the long term needs and I will look at short term priorities and some additional items. Please don't spend all your money on Christmas as I will have some very useful and worthwhile oportunities in the next week or two!

PS Coco has been staying with Apollo and apparently settled in well...


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