Monday, December 16, 2013

Banda Island

Prior to Calvin & Mary Jane leaving Uganda, we took a two-day holiday out to one of the Ssesse islands. There are approximately 84 islands that make up Ssesse islands, in the middle of Lake Victoria. We stayed on a smallish one known as Banda island. 

We departed from Kasenyi docks (near Entebbe) at 2pm in the afternoon. Saying it was chaos as we boarded would be an understatement. Porters met us at the water's edge and carried us to the boat so we wouldn't get wet in the dirty water. We expected the boat to look like a ferry with nice seating and an awning. What it turned out to be was a cargo boat that happened to carry people as well. Once on the boat, we were told to make our way to the front, stepping over numerous people on the way. The other passengers seemed to be used to this type of travel and leaned over as we walked on boards near their heads. Finally, we found our seats, which turned out to be less than two inches wide. The ride wasn't bad at first and the waves were mild, but after four hours on the boat, our backsides were numb. We were so thankful for the cloudy day and comfortable temperatures. It made traveling more pleasant. 

At some point, we asked a drunk passenger near by how much he had paid for the fare. We didn't think this many other passengers could afford what the captain was charging us mzungus (white people). It was only $8 per head for the ride, but that seemed a lot for the Ugandan economy. The passenger responded that he paid $2.25 for his ride. We tried talking to the captain about this discrepancy, but the issue was never resolved. It seems that they charge the passengers according to what they think we can afford. 
Halfway through the ride, another boat pulled up next to us to hand over a passenger.
Lemu & Janet both took nice long naps during the trip.
At the next dock, we transferred to another boat and sped towards Banda island to beat the rain clouds that were quickly surrounding us.
This is the sight that welcomed us on shore: a building that is used as a 'mess hall' to feed people. The beach had rocky sand, but didn't hurt the feet to walk on. The water near shore was crystal clear. An area for a bonfire was situated in the sand.
Our cabins were made of rock and had tin roofs. Very rustic but with character. One thing we would have liked was if the staff might have cleaned the place better. Spiders were our main complaint. It almost felt like Timu.
Terrill & the girls are taking a run along the beach that first evening. The girls were living in a dream because they could play with all the water they wanted to for 48 hours. In Timu, we have to reserve our water because it's so precious. On Banda, water was abundant and the girls did not waste their opportunity to play.
The stretch of beach near our campsite.
Bats hung from the ceiling in the mess hall.
The bird life was plentiful. I believe around 20 species live on the island.
Early the next morning, the girls were in swimsuits and exploring. I advocate for suits with tush ruffles as it's just too cute!
Their faces say it all. They've never encountered a body of water this big before.
Swimming with daddy, Lemu holds on tight....
...while Janet prefers to be daring.
Water bottles have never been so much fun.
Sisters on the beach. They played for hours and slept well that night.
Terrill was also daring and swam 300 meters out to a small island. When he returned from his trip breathless, he decided that the island was farther than it had looked from shore.
Banda also offered small boats that we could borrow. Terrill took us out twice.
Mama with her girls on the water at sunset.
On the return trip to Entebbe, we chartered our own boat for a more comfortable ride. It turned out to be two hours quicker as well. Banda island is in the background.
Once again, the girls fell fast asleep. Uncle Calvin's lap had never been so soft.
We had talked with the girls the evening prior that Calvin & Mary Jane would be leaving us. It was a difficult evening for Janet especially as she processed that people come and go in her life. What we had to convince her of was that her losing these people was not permanent. She's seen too much death for a five year old. Two months together and both girls had become attached to our wonderful relatives.
Mary Jane being carried ashore from our chartered boat.
Terrill being carried ashore. It was an odd feeling to be hoisted unexpectedly onto someone's shoulders.
It was a wonderful holiday with people we love!

2 comments:

The Reeds said...

I was thinking the exact same thing about the tush ruffles before I read your comment! And so sad about them being used to loss. I'm glad you got away and it sounds like no one got sick so.. woo-hoo!

AfriBats said...

Would you add your bat photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:
http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/afribats

AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

Many thanks!

PS: these slit-faced bats, Nycteris sp.