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It was a glorious day. A day that only those who know Bunyonyi‘s usual climate will know how to fully appreciate. The perfect, sunny, easygoing opening act to four days of rather demanding hiking. The first four miles out of 40 on land and water.
Many of the 26 East African Playgrounds volunteers from three British universities, Plymouth, Southampton and Falmouth, woke up early. They were eager to test the fresh waters lying still 6,400 feet above see level, and further explore the unusual facilities they saw only briefly the previous evening.
After a very filling breakfast and comprehensive briefing session under the trees, they departed in three teams amusingly divided based on shoe size. Each was led by an Edirisa guide: Jane Mulungi, Bright Owen and Clement Banyenzaki.
“Children were so happy! Everyone is happy here, relaxed. Compared to them we have a lot and we still want more! All the trivial stuff from home doesn’t matter here,” said Grace Shrewsbury who studies photography at Falmouth University, helped by Sarah Boote who is in animal behaviour and welfare at Plymouth. That was their summary of what most participants named the highlight of all highlights – the visit to Edirisa Nursery School at Kyabahinga.
The next stop was something completely different…
That brew on the table is obushera, the local sorghum beer. A typical trekker can take up to two sips before passing the cup on, with a funny expression on her face.
Half an hour of some serious uphill took them to the ridge of the peninsula where they could admire the first sequence of pretty vistas.
At the home of Jeremiah, a herbalist with rebellious religious views, everyone’s bad luck was cured and instructions on
madness, diarrhoea, allergies, hernia, malaria and other diseases were shared. Among the takeaways reported by the students: aloe vera is a magical plant; omuhoko can help you abort, but if you take too much you will abort yourself!
On the way down to the compound of Mrs Anna, a craft maker, the other side of Lake Bunyonyi opened up in its full awesomeness; only few visitors ever set their eyes on this.
“We learned we couldn’t weave,” summarised their experience the group of volunteers who helpfully donated today’s photo collection. Instead of craft making, they had a lot to say about Kev.
Kev is a bitch and dogs are smart. They learn that Bazungu (white people) will treat them better then locals do, and try to seek their company. “Kevsoc” was formed on the spot, a Kev-centred society, but unfortunately she could not follow them to Habukomi Island.
A large number of dugout canoes were parked for them at the tip of a forested peninsula, ready to be boarded.
“You can see more from the mountains but I preferred views from the canoe, that is a completely different perspective,” said Madison Jay, a Portsmouth biology student.
It would be next to impossible for 30 people to have a shower at Tom’s Homestay on Habukomi Island, however, there was a great alternative available, and much appreciated after a day of sweating…
The day ended with a campfire and the sounds of enanga, the traditional instrument.
“It cannot be put it into words, it is just a beautiful country,” said Jack Mountain Goat Greenway, a Plymouth geography student, about Day 1 of his trek. He describes himself as a man of long legs, foot size 12.5, and few words.
Mountain Goat is right. But we will still endeavour to produce some more words for you, just not on Day 2. We are hiking into the remotest areas where mobile networks aren’t strong enough. You will hear from us again on Friday, when we reach Kisoro Town.
text: Miha Logar