Posted by: Richard Marshall | August 24, 2009

Interlude: Zimbabwe and Uganda

Kariba

Kariba

I’ve spent the last two weeks revisiting my roots new and old. My native land gave me a fine Zimbabwe greeting at Beitbridge. It was already hot as hell at 9am on a winter morning, and I had to shell out a small fortune in bribes to avoid customs officers searching my car – not that I was carrying anything illegal of course, but they are deliberately obstructive if you try to get through legally. I had by this time been taken under the wing of a friendly neighbourhood tout and con-man who easily and expensively facilitated the proceedings – what a lot of bastards! I feel as an old Africa hand I ought to be able to keep such characters at bay, but on the other (old Africa) hand I resent being obliged to learn how to break the law – all I want to do is follow the correct procedures. Anyway, I got through and arrived safely in my shabby, rather depressing home town, Harare. Fortunately, my uncle took me to spend the weekend on a houseboat on Kariba. Although the fishing was lousy and drinking solidly from eight in the morning to midnight four days running doesn’t really leave me in peak physical condition, the lake was beautiful and the trip was great fun. We even saw Black Rhino, a first for me and a sighting which means I have finally seen the big five after 25 years in Africa (White Rhino apparently don’t count, though I may be wrong here…). It was also, of course, great to catch up with family.

Jinja

Jinja

I then headed up to Uganda to see my parents. The squalor and decrepitude of the place never fails to shock me, but it takes less time to adjust with every visit. I even think I’ve seen improvement in Jinja and find I have something of a soft spot for the place. It’s now possible to get a half-decent cup of coffee here, which must count as an advance towards civilisation. Birding in Mabira Forest is also a great attraction, and I saw a number of new things. And Jinja certainly offers unusual experiences. I went to get my hair cut in a hole-in-the-wall barber shop, surrounded by posters of garish blue goddessses and voluptuous Bollywood stars. The Indian barber gave me an excellent haircut, though having a non-safety razor flashed about my neck while the wielder is watching some film in Hindi from the sixties is a bit terrifying! Over the weekend we went to Mount Elgon in the east. We stayed near some pretty impressive waterfalls, though these have the disadvantage of being outside the national park in an area incredibly densely populated even by Uganda standards. The national park has some very impressive forest and we went for a beautiful walk. I saw some great new birds, but unfortunately we got caught in a rainstorm. I don’t mind getting wet myself, but finding water had got into my brand new binos left me pretty sour – my efforts to dry them out have had limited success so far.

This will be my last post from Africa – I have a one-way ticket to Vietnam (I didn’t think I’d ever say that) and will be in Ho Chi Minh City by Thursday evening.

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls

The view to the west

The view to the west

Mom and Dad in the forest

Mom and Dad in the forest

More Falls

More Falls

The first coffee of the day...

The first coffee of the day...


Responses

  1. Great photos, Rich! What birds did you see? Uganda looks so beautiful and green! Is it the rainy season there? So you’re leaving tomorrow probably! wow! Have a good trip, Rich, and good luck! I’ll be thinking of you!
    Love and misses, t


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