So, moving on! Peace Corps is behind me and I am starting as fresh as possible. Before I quit I knew that I, at least potentially, had a job lined up with a small family run safari company, which among other reasons at the time, gave me grounds for not hopping on the next plane and flying home.
To make a long story simple, after living in Sipi for about two months I came down to Jinja as that is where Ku Tunza is based. I have moved into a big communal house called “the Pink Palace” where I have taken up the niche somewhere between house midget and house youngin. I think its quite funny when my friends who are still serving in Peace Corps ask me if I live with locals or muzungus and I answer that almost everyone I live with is African but we are all white. There’s Jane, who’s the house mum, she’s a Safa (South African) in her 40’s. She’s the head river guide at Nile River Explorers, one of two local river companies. She’s a real cut and dry kinda gal, but good shit. There’s George who is effectively either the house dad or creepy old man (also in his 40’s), depending on the day/fancy dress party. George is fully a book worm and has probably read anything you ever have, maybe twice. He’s something like 6’2” and enjoys constantly reminding me that I am short. Blaise is another 40-something Zimbo, who if you know anything about Zimbabwe, was one of those successful farmers ousted by clever black power leaders (insert hint of sarcasm here). Super nice guy, who in keeping with everyone having a household role a family role, is our drunken uncle and cocktail specialist. Steve and Des are a 30-something Safa couple who live outback with me in the servants’ quarters. Steve Fisher is quite notorious in the kayaking world and doesn’t mind telling you about it, but due to his notorieties isn’t around very much. Des would be my big sister and is always willing to have a vodka and a chat. There is also Sylvia, a German girl who’s in her early thirties and is also a safari guide for a German-speaking tour company, but she has barely been around since I have moved in. We also have two dogs which is really nice. There’s Grunt who’s the “house bitch” as Jane says. Grunt is supposedly fixed although she apparently still has a time of the month somehow. But instead of trying for other dogs she’ll get in licking fits (that’s doggy for foreplay), before she humps your leg. She’s on the small side, maybe 30lbs, but some of that counts for her being a bit of a fatty. Her best feature is her big dark circled and wide-set eyes. We also have Thandi who’s some sort of ratty terrier with halitosis. Before Thandi came to us she had a bad habit of starting fights with bigger dogs because the other dogs in her family were quite big and would defend her. Unfortunately, in Uganda when your dogs annoy the neighbours too much, they just poison them. So on account of Thandi’s starting fights, her big protectors got poisoned and the next time she got in a fight got what was coming to her. Her rear left leg got pulled from socket and now it has a bad joint and Thandi has a dead straight back leg, which just adds to the humour. Besides the leg, the best thing about Thandi is how much she loves us using her as a mop.
Every Monday morning and Thursday afternoon we have yoga in our backyard which is a lot of fun. Tuesdays which have often ended up as Wednesdays George has his little band over for jam sessions. Most of their songs are covers with changed genres and when Steve isn’t on the drums they actually sound really good. (Probably a good thing for them Steve isn’t in the band.) We have at least one dinner party at the house each week—lots of good drinks, food and friends.
Like I said earlier, I live outback in the servants’ quarters. I got a small room that I pay about $50 a month for plus utilities. It’s really convenient though because I get use of the whole house and really don’t need much more that a bed and a place to store my stuff. The Pink Palace is better set up than anywhere else I have lived since I left the states. We’ve got a big kitchen, a living room with and entertainment system, internet, a big balcony upstairs with hammocks and day-beds and warm water!
So far the safari business is pretty slow, although it looks like we should have a trip running this weekend. That will be for the best as a “top local artist” Jose Chameleone (pronounced more like “Josie Chameleon”) will be performing at the rugby pitch across the street, as it seems most locals have little understanding of “volume control,” I am more than happy to vacate for a few days. It looks like we will have a few big departures this summer which should win a bit of green, but for now we, along with most everyone else in the tourism industry are pretty quiet.
I will do my best to keep everyone posted of the safari adventures when they start, until then……