April 28th, 2018
It was 7 a.m. Saturday morning and I was still in bed. I had spent the night at my sister’s home in the city and we had gone out for dinner and drinks. She was sleeping in. I had not had a good night sleep. I never do in the city. It is too loud. With the cars and trucks driving past, the nonstop hooting and screaming neighbors, it is impossible to get any sleep. I was looking forward to going back home to the countryside, but it would have been rude to leave then, so I just kept quiet, and read a book on my phone.
At around quarter past eight, I heard my sister’s maid moving about in the kitchen, and decided I could get up.
I wanted to check in at the farm, but I didn’t want to do it too early. I like to think I can trust my staff to manage without me. At 9 a.m., I did call, mainly to find out how April, my nine-year-old Maltese, was doing. She has not been well and she suffers from separation anxiety. I was told she was doing fine although she was refusing to eat in my absence. Everything on the farm was reported to be running smoothly as usual. I had only been away for two days.
Resty, my sister’s maid, makes the best omelet; I always look forward to her breakfasts. My sister joined me, still half asleep, and only had a cup of tea before going back to bed. I tucked in to my omelet with gusto.
The plan was to leave my sister’s house at 10:30 a.m. and be home by 1 p.m. at the latest. I left at 10:50 a.m. I was using public transport, and one can never tell how long a journey will take on public transport. It took me just under an hour to get from my sister’s to the taxi park in downtown Kampala. It was not an uneventful ride either. We were stopped by traffic police twice, money changed hands and we were off. The traffic on Saturday in Kampala is always really bad, and once we hit downtown it came to a standstill. I decided to get off about 200m from the taxi park, though, because one has to navigate an obstacle course of foot traffic, boda bodas, cars and pickpockets, it feels a lot longer. The taxi park is at the bottom of a hill and I always stop and take a breath before I take the steps down into it. It is so busy and the mini buses so haphazardly parked, it looks like there are more of them than people trying to get on.
I braved the mania, found my stage and got onto a minivan going to my village off Entebbe Road. It was a 16mile journey, the first 13 miles on the tarmacked highway that leads to the Entebbe International Airport. We got off the highway at Kawuku Trading Centre. We got onto a dirt road that runs through a couple of very small towns. I got off after about two miles and walked the rest of the way home. The journey was uneventful. I was home in one and a half hours.
I am always glad to be back home. The air smells different, no car fumes, sewerage smell and no rotting garbage. The sounds are different; you can hear the birds and the occasional cow or goat. The welcome I get, with all the barking, mewing and bouncing, you would think I had been away for weeks, not just two days. April looked to have survived my absence quite well. I waded through all the excitement and got into the house. I like to sit down for a couple of minutes when I get home before I start on anything. I was attending a BBQ in the village later that day and I had promised to bring a salad. I needed to work out what sort. I also needed to take a walk round the farm, make dinner for the natives (what I call my pets) and I used this sit-down to decide on what to do first. Since the walk-around always goes on longer than I plan for it to, I decided to start with the salad.
I went out to my kitchen garden for red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber and lollo rosso lettuce. I cut that up and mixed it in a bowl with some tomatoes and onions I had in the house. For dressing I used lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey and salt and pepper to taste. I made another smaller salad with avocado for me since I had skipped lunch. Dinner today was going to be chicken legs and corn meal for Xander and chicken legs and rice for April and the cats. While I was not looking Jay-Z had another litter of kittens, I have only just managed to get the last of her last litter adopted. With the chicken legs on the hob, I went to change into something more suitable for a walk. Once everything was cooked, and I had eaten my salad, I took a walk up to the farm. It is the rain season and everything grows really fast, or yellows and rots. Everywhere is green and lush or yellow. I started with the cows, the vet had been to do the deworming and give booster shots, so everything was fine on that front. My farm supervisor had sold a couple of bunches of matooke, I also noticed that some were missing, they weren’t blaming it on the monkeys this time. (Food thieves are rampant in the area ever since the new laws on fishing came in to place.) Someone had made an offer on the remaining bit of the sweet potato patch and they were going to pick them up the next day. We harvested the fish a while back and I don’t think we will be restocking any time soon.
Back at the house, I fed the natives and then just sat there for a bit doing nothing. The BBQ was at five and I had about an hour to go, which was plenty of time.
A group of us meet once a month to catch up. A different member of the group hosts each month. I was anxious and excited to attend the BBQ, I always am. I am the only single household in the group under 40 with no children. The only other single person is a 65-year-old lady with a grown son. I got there about 15 minutes late, I always think if I do this I will not be the first to arrive, but, I was the first there. I was greeted by our hostess and I handed over the salad. She gave me drink and told me to make myself at home. They have a really beautiful garden, it is wild and messy—a controlled mess—and I love it. After about half an hour, everyone started arriving, some with children in tow. They were sent off to the house to watch TV and play video games. Talk was centered on family, children, work and security in the area. Regarding the security situation, we agreed to hire some off-duty policemen to patrol the neighborhood at night. It was a fun night. I was home by midnight and in bed by 1 a.m. I fell asleep to the sound of crickets and the occasional owl.