I am watching the sunset over the flat plains of Uganda, from our perch high above on the edge of Mt Elgon. It has been a great two days here, but tomorrow we must move on and head towards the sunset. Mike and I are back at Sipi Falls, because we just had to show my Auntie Chriss the falls and of course the view. But instead of staying in the strange little cheap place we found last time, we decided to stay at a slightly more upmarket lodge, including full board. Even though it lacked electricity, it was still a good deal. Mike and I pitched the tent that came with the car on the edge of the cliff, right next to the falls. When I zipped open our tent this morning, the view in front (and below!) was just magical – it doesn’t come any better than this!
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the gorillas seems like months ago, but it took only a few days driving like mad to get back to Kampala. We were only allowing ourselves two days to return in time to meet Mike’s sister at the airport in Entebbe. Before we left, we saw a group following the rangers down the formidable mountain, to see the gorillas.Each of us mentally counted at least three ladies who are going to need to be carried up. I think the village was waiting anticipation to go and collect the lot of them at the bottom of the hill a couple of hours’later!
As we drove north, we slowly learnt about the Ebola outbreak in Kibaale. We researched on the internet what that actually means, and how we can limit our exposure and reduce the risk of contracting Ebola. With all the hype in the media, it quickly became apparent just to avoid any contact with people. So, no hand shaking, no riding in a bus (not that we do that anyway) and washing hands frequently especially after touching money! Kibaale was the epidemic centre, but after a doctor who treated the first patient was transferred to Kampala, Kampala became a small risk too.
Between us, we had decided on just picking up Mike’s sister and heading straight out of town to Jinja instead of worrying while staying in Kampala. Then, two nights before she was due to arrive, Mike got a phone call from his family. His sister had been diagnosed with whooping cough and she could not come anymore! Mike was quiet, I presumed he was worried about her and disappointed she could not come. It was a real pity. I was really looking forward to meeting her too!
We quickly did what we had to do in Kampala and drove on to Jinja beforeheading straight up the mountain to Sipi Falls, where we are now.
The past two days in Sipi have been great – relaxing, watching the view and taking a couple of small walks into town. Yesterday, Chriss, came down with the usual travellers tummy bug and spent much of her time in close proximity of the toilet. Luckily for us, she recovered enough in the afternoon to take a tour through the coffee plantation.
Our guide took us through a banana plantation, across a tiny wooden rickety bridge, down a dirt path to a small mud house and asked to sit down on some tiny chairs. Tiny children sat on the ledge of the house eating bbq corn on a cob, staring at us and giggling in between bites. Two were a bit more adventurous and would come up to us to look at our cameras, our skin colour, our hair and our clothing. They were so inquisitive. They were comparing Mike’s gruff with the lack of facial hair on their father’s face and pulling Mike’s sleeve up to see what kind of arms he had and how much hair was on his arms. It was so funny to watch, I was in fits of laughter. Until they came over to inspect me! I had to laugh even louder when the young boy was telling his family I look very smart in shorts.
Then our coffee tour really began. Our guide showed us the coffee shrubs with the tiny green (unripe) cherries. It was not the season for coffee but there were a couple of shrubs with some red cherries on them. These were the ripe ones. After squeezing them, a little white bean popped out encased in a thin film of white goo. Normally they then dry this for a couple of days until the white goo is dry and falls off with a bit of light pounding in a mortar and pestle. For our tour, they had some prepared earlier.
They then pour the beans into a tray and flick the tray into the air, hoping the wind will catch the light flaky husks and just leave the beans.
They then took the tray into the kitchen where we met the wife of our guide. She showed us how they roast the dried beans over the fire in their kitchen. Meanwhile the children were filing in and out of the kitchen grabbing loose roasted coffee beans off the floor, walking off happily chewing on the beans. Wow, my mother would not let me try coffee until I was 14 years old!
As we watched how the beans were cooking, our guide and his eldest son, pounded away on already roasted beans in a mortar and pestle, until they had filled three huge bags of ground coffee for us to take back to our tent. I am not sure if I am going to be able to sleep with all the coffee aroma around me!