If dogs run free…

why not me?

Boxing Day at the Lodge.

On Boxing Day (DEc. 26) we were all invited to the Ndali Lodge high up in the hills. The owners, Aubrey and Claire, have folks from Fort Portal over every year after Christmas for swimming, pizza and relaxing. Ndali is only about 45 minutes from Fort, so the drive was tolerable. The last bit of road is along narrow ridges above volcanic lakes, each one the remains of a mini-caldera. The volcanos were active between 10,000 and 3,000 years ago. Some of you may recall the post from our last trip about swimming in a volcano. We did not make it to the lake this time, but the pool water was pumped up for our enjoyment. Here are a couple of panoramas from the lodge.

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Although not visible in the first pano, the Rwenzori Mountains are in the distance. They are obscured by dust from the Sahara and local smoke and haze, but extend to over 16,000ft. They are the western edge of the Great Rift.

The land of the lodge (on the order of 1,000 acres) belonged to Aubrey’s  grandfather, but was confiscated by Idi Amin. In the 1990s it was returned to the family, and Aubrey’s father ran the lodge, and Aubrey in turn took over from his father. It is a small lodge (not a restaurant, as they have to remind folks who stop by unannounced looking for food), with accommodations for about 25, although they consider it full with about 18 lodgers. The clients include, in addition to the non-paying extended Daghlian-Kaduru clan, people such as Kathryn Hahn, who is, I am told, a movie star. I have heard of none of the movies she has appeared in, but that proves nothing. She and her family were off to view chimps in the chimp preserve. Here is a guy (not in our group) who looked a bit too colonial for my tastes.

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Here are Libby, Dennis and Chloe-Rose relaxing near the pool.

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Nearby are Baby Ma (Kathy), Blondie (Lucy) and Baby Ma’s fiancé Faquil.

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And, Chloe and parents ready to party at the pool.

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Dennis was quite fond of the wireless headphones Barb gave him for Christmas on his raft.

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We made our own pizzas, which were cooked by the staff, while we ate cheese (very good local cheeses). Very civilized.

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There was more swimming, here Eric relaxes on the raft while Blondie swims, with Dennis at the far end of the pool. Barb did her laps early on in the day.

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The plants are great here, not mention the birds, but I willingly show  a few pictures that might be of interest. Amongst the other plants, and on a pergola, there are many Aristolochia vines. Very nice flowers.

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Also, there are a number of big euphorbias on the grounds. John can only dream of plants this big.

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Christmas in Fort Portal (or is that Port Fortal?)

I have once again received a complaint regarding the frequency of blog postings from the usual suspect. I might point out that we have been traveling, and have been with spotty network connections for the past week. I will try to be more prompt in future postings.

On Christmas eve we drove to Eric and Rebecca’s house in Fort Portal for the holiday. It only took about two hours to get out of town due to massive traffic jams. Imagine getting out of Boston if there were no lane markings on the road, few traffic lights (none of which were observed to have any influence on drivers), and the drivers did pretty much what they wanted, particularly at traffic circles. They call then round-abouts, but they ain’t. They are good old traffic circles. At any rate, we managed to get on the highway to Fort Portal, dodged the massive trucks and speeding busses, not to mention the flocks of boda-bodas (small motorcycles used as quick taxis and lumber transporters). About 40 km from Fort, as they say, we hit road construction. There were no workers, it being Christmas eve, but there were some great half completed roads. Red dust everywhere, often blocking vision, not that that slowed anyone down. The only time drivers slowed was to avoid catastrophic suspension events when the cars go over the various pot holes and speed bumps placed at irregular intervals. We did make it to the house, and were glad to have done so.

On Christmas we took Chloe-Rose to meet her great grandmother Akiki, (Eric and Dennis’ grandmother on their father’s side) who lives across the street from the house. Here is Chloe-Rose making the acquaintance of her Akiki.

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One of the traditions is for the grandmother or great-grandmother to bestow an empaco (nick name) on children. Chloe-Rose is now Akiki, since she is the oldest of the great grandchildren. We stayed and had a meal of stew, rice, avocado, millet and beans. Chloe played with her cousins (don’t ask me for the actual relationships, because I don’t know), and generally had a great time crawling around.

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The highlight of Christmas gifts was the matching pajamas that Kaduru families gave one another. Cute prisoners, eh?

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There was much playing with babies, cooing at babies and holding babies. Here are the uncles playing with their nieces.

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Some of you may remember pictures from two years ago when we were in Uganda for Lib and Dennis’ engagement party. Here they are two years later, none the worse for wear.

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More to come.

Bats in abundance, too.

Short note before we head to Fort Portal in the morning. Each night, just as the sun has gone down, there are many, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of large bats (the straw-colored fruit bat, Eidolon helvum – look it up for images) flying overhead. These are bats that have a wing span of up to 30 inches. Think the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz movie. They live in a valley that at one time was outside of Kampala. It is now in the greater Kampala area, so it is an odd site. I tried to take a picture, but as I noted the last time I was in Uganda, iPhones take nice pictures, but they are not really good at anything but bright light. On the bright side, the fruit bats each fruit, flowers, bark, etc. and don’t bother people at all. On the dark side, they, like many bats, have a huge viral load that includes such nice viruses as Marburg and probably Ebola. I am happy to see them fly by.

We head to Fort Portal tomorrow for Christmas. It should be fun. I promise to send more pictures. For those of you yearning for more Chloe-Rose pictures, here you go. She is starting to pull herself up and stand at the couch. She crawls very fast (mostly on her belly, but is trying all fours). Note the tooth.

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A plethora of babies.

We have been doting on Chloe-Rose, but there are any other babies here. Dennis’ brother Eric and his wife Rebecca have a three month old, Kayd. She is cute as a button.

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Rebecca, Kayd and Grandpa Ralph arrived from California the other day. They are still adjusting to the time shift. Here are Kayd and Rebecca in a moment of lucidity.

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The other day we all went to visit Dennis and Libby’s friends Linda and Roy who had just arrived from London with their two babies, Sebastian, 14 months, and Suri, three months.

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Don’t be fooled by the tranquil appearance of this picture. It was like a bucket of eels for most of the visit.

I know my sister Beth will be worried about the welfare of the dog, Scoobie. Here he is resting on the porch with his buddy, puppy (so named because he just showed up one day and they were not naming it in hope it would go away). Puppy appears to now be a fixture at the house.

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All of the houses around here are surrounded by walls with glass or razor wire or both to deter intruders. It makes for an odd feeling walking around.

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Barb is keeping up the swimming at Speke Resort.

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Finally, here is the Daghlian-Kaduru family at home. Dennis is happier than he looks. I had to choose the picture that had a majority smiling/looking at the camera.

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A day in Kampala

We are finally getting past jet lag. We have not done a lot of note. Barb has been swimming at the Speke Resort.  Fortunately, she has been able to secure a lane to herself each day.

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She does a fairly consistent 2:30 lap time over ten laps.

There are many lovely flowers and associated insects, since this is the end of the rainy season (at least it will rain a bit less and get hotter in coming months). Lib’s avocado trees have fruits from egg-sized to huge. Here are a couple of shots of flowers and insects.

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Dennis’ brother Eric and his cousin Patrick came over from Fort Portal the other day. Eric is getting ready to greet Rebecca and baby Kayd on their return from California. Eric spent a great deal of the day marveling at Chloe-Rose, and on parenthood in general. Here is the view in the baby room. That is Eric, Patrick, C-R and Lib.

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Lib had a  Days for Girls year end party and team building event. They had it in the Kaduru event space at the house. Like her mother, Lib skipped the team building, since she is Program Director for Africa and the Middle East

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Mostly we have been having a great time playing with Chloe-Rose.

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We look on each other with great joy.

 

Season’s Greetings from Kampala

We are back in Uganda for a visit with Chloe-Rose, Lib and Dennis, and their various relatives and friends. The flight over was via Doha. Twelve hours from Philadelphia to Doha, then six hours from Doha to Entebbe, followed by a fast taxi from Entebbe to Kampala on an unopened new road. Fast and exciting. The flight from Doha was a bit odd. Rather than taking off and heading southwest, we flew north, then east before heading to Entebbe. This was, I presume, to avoid the air space of the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. We hugged the coast along Oman and Yemen, crossed over Djibouti and Ethiopia on course for Entebbe. All very interesting sight seeing, but it added about 2 hours to the flight. But we are here and happy.

Chloe-Rose got an early Christmas present – a new chair and table.

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We flew over from Philadelphia in an A380-300. It has three outside cameras: One pointed forward, one downward and one to the rear. The following was from the forward camera (a phone photo of the screen on the plane). Can you guess what it is?

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We are still getting used to the time change, so that’s it for today.

 

We just might stay here.

Don’t do as I have done while on vacation. I’ve made the mistake of reading about Trump and Nazis. Each day seems to bring some new version of hell. Maybe we’ll do as my sister Alice recommends and just stay here.