Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The sounds of silence

Like the smells of heat, dust and sweat in the Middle East, Africa has it’s own way to tell us that you are here; it is always speaking to us. Silence is something that you never have here, especially in the market area of Bukoto where I am living; usually it is a welcomed and enjoyable experience.

Already I hardly have to look at my watch to tell me the time of the day; first I hear the calling to pray from the nearby mosque, then birds telling me in a crooked singing voice that it’s time to get out of bed in the morning, followed by the cockrels cock-a-doodle-dooing at daybreak. In the heat of the day the burning sun tells us to take it easy, the only sounds come from inside our classroom; there is less traffic of those walking up and down the adjacent street to the market and life slows down to a quiet pace. In the evening as the red glow of the African sun is setting, there is again a pattern to the sounds; the music made by the grasshoppers increase, the laughter of children walking home to school is heard, the ankole cows (who are my regular visitors in the grass patch next door) start mooing, then the bullfrogs start piping up (which honestly can be deafening sometimes…for ages when I first arrived I thought I actually had frogs in my apartment! (Ok-this isn‘t as surprising as the time that I thought I saw a rhinoceros on the top road from Faslane…or was it a hippo!!???…or had a lion under my bed at Mhingo…all other stories..! ) The sounds of Africa are something you have no choice but to get excited about; knowing the calls of the birds we hear everyday, whether it’s the ‘thu-thu-thu’ of the hornbill or even common calls of migrant thrushes and sparrows. Even sundowners on my flat balcony, overlooking the rubbish burning ground, become special as I have my own private wildlife orchestra to listen to!

This all sounds rather wonderful and probably beats even mum and dad’s back-bar in Lucerne (aka-the freezer at the back door that they prop-up against!). The sounds of the African city are very pleasant…until…the power comes back on!!! The beat boxes and stereos are then once again put on full blast to announce this party or that, or the local bar/mobile phone offers/mosquito net offers/the fact that Christ is going to save you etc etc etc. So, now that I have left the luxury of house sitting in Kololo, I once again am back to tossing and turning in my bed to the beat of African music, hoping that Bukoto will once again plunge into the dark and quiet of a power cut! Any moment now…

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Home is where...your stuff is!

I have spent the last week 'playing grown-ups' (as my friend Erin rightly put it)..I am house sitting. This isn't really a house, but a home -a family home; one mum, 2 children, 2 dogs, 1 cat and 3 chickens (well-make that 2...one died in my care!!), oh and I forgot -the live in staff!

Those of you who have lived out of a suitcase..or in my case, 8 boxes...for a year or 5 , know how annoying it is wanting to cook or bake something and not having all the things you need, just putting up with things as it's not 'home' -well not this week-pantry full and all the utensils I need, a piano I can run my fingers along for a tune or two, an amazing bed..I could go on, but you get the idea! I have had a great week-feel more awake when I am school, come home to pets that want my attention and love, go for a run and baths are ran by the staff (ok..so that might not happen in every home!)

Ok, so we know the truth in the cliche-home is where the heart is...I used to get questioned intensively by my History teacher, Mr.Steve - a patriotic Scottish-rugby player type, "why did I feel like I was Scottish?Why did I feel my home was is Scotland?"... He wasn't trying to accuse me of forging my Nationality, he just wanted to make me think about what makes me me. Funny- I feel Scottish, my parents spent many tipsy nights trying to teach me 'Scots' (they failed!)and home is always Lucerne. Our family home, not especially Cove, or Helensburgh, but definately Lucerne.
I love my little flat in Kampala, I have learnt from Kuwait to quickly make it comfortable with a lick of paint and some home-made hangings and stencils...but it is not a home!

What am I trying to say..maybe I am ready to collect antique furntiure, put magnets on my fridge, buy a decent mattress and read Martha Stewart magazines!!Oh dear, maybe it's not that I am ready for a home...maybe I am just getting old..or does that go hand-in-hand!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time, in the hope that I would keep family and friends more up-to-date with my African Adventures... but this is a nerve racking thing! Even choosing a name for my blog has caused much deliberating..should 'Africa' be in the title...what about my other adventures...but here is where I am starting from, so I am going to suck it up and join the gang of 'published writers' on the net!