Uganda 2018 Day 11: Never empty, never full

We were up early this morning to say ‘goodbye’ to the CM Sports group. They were due to leave at 08.00 for the long drive back to Entebbe, so we all went down to Tembo for breakfast together – Stu joined us as well. It was sad saying farewell to them all as they’ve worked incredibly hard and achieved a great deal in a short space of time. Everywhere they have been they have made a positive impression. Inevitably, coming to Uganda makes you access what is important in your life and I get the very strong impression that the trip has affected them all to some degree. I know from speaking to Nick and Ash that they were not ready to go home and I would not be in the least surprised to see them back in Uganda at some stage in the future.


The rest of the morning was spent organising Hippo House to be ready for the McIntoshs to move in. I managed to track down Robinah, the cleaner, and arrange for bedding to be changed in rooms while Mrs Green got on with some washing. When Stu and his family moved in, we went to see Jackie. Jackie – as many readers of the blog will know – has been our friend for years and used to work at Tembo. We were organising a bash for her birthday and we needed to set a budget.


At 12.30 Mrs Green and I headed off to Kigoma near Ishaka which is where Stephen Biru lived. It took us the best part of a couple of hours to get there, but it was worth it. When Stephen is not managing education in the Rubirizi District he is a farmer and has a particular affinity for cows. He told us on a previous visit that he had a variety of Friesian cows which came from Yorkshire originally. Mrs Green likes to play on her distant Yorkshire heritage, so they have bonded over this. Stephen’s house is at the top of a small hill and he owns acres of land all around it. We saw pigs, chickens, cows (of course), pumpkins, chillis, avocados, bananas and many more types of produce as he showed us around his farm.


Next, we sat down for lunch. We were joined by five of Stephen’s children including Stedia who I had met before and had come back from university in Kampala for the weekend. Wine in this part of Uganda is fairly rare, but Stephen had got out a bottle of South African red which he had been holding on to for the previous four years. We felt incredibly humbled and privileged. Apparently the toast in Uganda is ‘Never full, never empty’, so we got used to saying that over the course of the afternoon.


Lunch – put quite simply – was massive. We started off with a big fruit salad and then a big bowl of really nice vegetable soup. Next came the biggest tilapia that both of us had ever seen. We just about managed to eat this and to nibble at a few IRISH potatoes before even more food arrived: beef then chicken, then salad, then fried bananas and, last of all, some traditional smoked tilapia that Stephen wanted us to taste. I managed to eat some of just about everything, but I was so full that I could burst. Stephen’s four sons didn’t seem to have the same problem as us – they were devouring everything that was put in front of them.


With lunch finished, we sat down outside the house in Stephen’s garden where we were introduced to Stephen’s wife. We sat out for a while and chatted while more wine was brought out and, finally, some Ugandan tea made with milk from Stephen’s cows. Ugandan tea is basically warm milk with tealeaves added. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a hot drink person at all, so I just took a polite sip while Mrs Green drank a little bit more.


We were due to meet Stu and his family that evening so we had to make our apologies and leave. Stephen and his family had treated us like royalty; it was just another example of the incredible hospitality you receive in Uganda. We said fond farewells and headed back to Katunguru where Stu and his family had been spending the day with Ramathan – the deputy head from Katunguru. We made a brief stop at Ramathan’s house before heading back to Mweya. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t eat at Tembo because we were still stuffed from lunchtime.


Tomorrow we are off to Semuliki National Park to visit the hot springs there – something I’m very excited about.


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