This morning we woke up to more delicious food made by Owen and the other workers which included fruit salad, cinnamon pancakes, scrambled egg and toast. I had some of the most amazing jam (plum) that I’ve ever tasted too and I really wish I could have brought a tin home!
After breakfast we prepared for day one of the trek. We got into rickety canoes made out of tree trunks and sailed our way to the other side of Lake Bunyoni to an area where we began our trek. I did not start out very strong at all and did not continue any better either. I was always at the end of the line of the group and my breathing was so bad I began to hyperventilate and cry which was embarrassing as it meant our intern had to keep stopping with me, but this was appreciated.
We went to a gorgeous little school called Edirisa Nursery School where we watched the children learn how to say the English alphabet and also how to count to 10 and 20. The children were so impressive and when they got an answer right, their classmates would all clap and sing a song in their African language and the child who got it right would dance by wiggling their hips and singing along too.
After, the children sand us a beautiful song in their language which was translated as them talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Some of them wanted to be lawyers, others, teachers and so forth. The singing was so beautiful and the children were really well behaved.
After they had finished singing we were asked by the teacher if we would like to sing a song for the children. After some discussion we decided to perform the Hokie-Kokie to them which the teacher also joined in with. Our leader was singing it all the way to our next destination further up the hill which was a bar run by a woman who was local. Out here they drink special beer called Brushera (spelling could be wrong) which can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic and is made from Sorghum plants around the area.
I embarrassed myself hugely just before we arrived at the bar and fell up the dust hill after a child spoke to me. He apologised as he thought that this was the cause but no. Unfortunately though, I was thereafter nicknamed the “weak muzungu” by the children.
The beer was not my favourite thing ever but it was bearable. It tasted like sour formented cucumber, not quite to my taste! After, we trekked further viewing beautiful scenery of the island and eventually bumped into some beautiful kids who held our hands all the way to the healer Jeremiah who lived at the top of the hill.
Jeremiah, taught us about his herbalist ways while Vianney translated for us. I could not tell you about all the plants but I know he can cure joint pain and prevent some of the spirits that harm people from sticking around. He told us he had 10 children and this included seven boys and three girls. Children watched us learn from him as goats and cows wandered into his home freely!
We continued our trek up the hill for lunch where we met a little home owned by a woman called Anna who cooked us food and taught us arts and crafts. We had Irish potatoes with a nut sauce, sweet potatoes, fried cabbage and a bean gravy sauce which I obviously got seconds of because the food here is so good!
The arts and crafts we made were bracelets from Papiris and long grass which we weaved together by hand, coloured by natural dyes which Anna collects locally. Dyes here are made from specific plants which when opened up or rubbed onto the grass create a colour. Mine went pretty well even though I had to ask for help from Anna’s children quite a few times!
I came away with a blue and cream coloured bracelet and the others had some pink ones. After the opportunity to buy some other crafts Anna often makes we continued our trek downhill this time (more my speed) and made our way to the canoes where we would go across Lake Bunyoni again to a place called Tom’s Island.
I had a rocky time in the canoe since the lake is the second largest in Uganda about 1.4 miles deep. However, I kept my cool enough for the girls to get us there safely. When we arrived at Tom’s Island we met the humble and welcoming Tom who gave us refuge in tents by his home.
He gave us a tour of his Island showing us how they make their homes and the history of the island how he named it after his grandfather and now he lives here. He showed us a tree on the island which he planted at the exact point where he was born and he uses that as a memory to his parents and his birth. He says that he has never wanted it cut down, unless he dies because that represents him and his life.
Tom explained that everyone on the island was born here and are all related. Interfamilial relations do not seem to be uncommon thing here within various “clans” like the “Pigmys” and the “Muchungus”.
After the tour we arrived back at camp where we set up for dinner which was crayfish freshly caught from the lake and rice with Irish potatoes. After dinner we received some entertainment from an elderly gentlemen on Tom’s Island. The music was cultural and different to what we are used to but was still enjoyable.
Has been an enlightening day. Tomorrow is the toughest day of the hike and I am worried that I will not be able to manage it, however there is a bus that I might take instead. I have tonight to decide whether or not I want to get on it.