My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Uganda. Having never been there before, we had no pre-conceived ides as to what to expect and I think that served us well.
An unusual choice of destinations, yes. Our only reason to set our sights on Uganda was because we had been invited by a girl that we started sponsoring 26 years ago.
We stayed with Agnes in her own home in Kampala, in sight of Lake Victoria. From the moment we met up with our 'daughter', we were made to feel extremely welcome. I don't know if I would feel so comfortable in Kampala without knowing someone who was able to show us around. Our visit took place during April, a time when the weather conditions were very pleasant. Temperatures were in the high 20's (C), with an early morning thunder storm off the lake, a regular occurance.The city is busy, some might say chaotic, with 'jams' manifesting themselves at any time on the crowded streets. Even the police are at ends to control the situation and usually stand waving their arms about until the traffic finally clears.
After flying over a very dry Ethiopia, Uganda is a fertile, productive country. With its equatorial climate, one feels that you could grow anything in the lush soil that abounds there.
We travelled to the western regions of Uganda, to visit the mother of our host and spend time in the village that she had spent the earlier part of her life in. Our welcome was very emotional, with the whole village turning out to meet us. We needed to go through the formal welcome procedures due to the fact that if strangers come into the village without being formally recognised, there is much concern and suspicion. There are militant groups in these areas and the villagers are very cautious in this regard.
We were invited and stayed in the village overnight, much to the joy of all the people there. No westerners had done this before and there was great excitement. We were taken on an evening walk by some of our guests, while arrangements were made for the sumptious evening meal.
Such a huge variety of tastes featured in the feast that followed. A gluggy portion of millet was a prized feature of the cuisene. Fruit in abundance and the company of as many as could fit into our dining area made us feel very welcome.
Our time in Uganda also included a trip to the source of the Nile at Jinja and a visit to see the wonderful work being done at the orphanage 'Watoto'.
Our host arranged a group from the local church to entertain us with their traditional singing and dance. We were able to meet a number of people at this gathering, which was very lay back.
After nine days we needed to continue with our journey and with much sadness, we left our wonderful Ugandan family. We hope some day to return and again enjoy the warmth and compassion of our friends there.