Aug 23

Monkeys, massages and money changing…

And so it begins, my new life in Uganda!

My new colleague for the next 12 months, and soon to be new best friend, Dr Ceri Gallivan and I arrived in Entebbe bright and early yesterday morning and were very kindly collected from the airport courtesy of Anna and the wonderful African Roots Guest House.

After some much needed snoozing in our very comfortable beds, we were treated to a lovely breakfast of local fruits and a choice of omelettes or delicious pancakes, complete with fresh juice and tea/coffee.

On Anna’s sound advice we spent the afternoon arranging local phones, SIM cards and exchanging our money…effectively becoming millionaires in seconds! We then had no trouble arranging transport to collect us and take us down to Bwindi tomorrow morning. If you are town and need a responsible, experienced and friendly driver then contact Bruce ( phone: +25686025429 email: mbruceray1989@gmail.com). Bruce is based in Bwindi, but runs trip and tours all over as well as simple door to door services. He does all this to help support his mother, who has been unwell enough to have to cease her work as teacher, and to help put his younger siblings through school.

With the formalities out of the way Ceri and I have been free to relax and acclimatise a little before heading south to Bwindi. Last night we had a few beers at Goretti’s Pizzeria by the beach at Victoria Lake. There we met the lovely Marie Goretti herself, who informed us that she started the place from scratch on a rubble filled site many years ago, when she arrived in Uganda after leaving her home country Rwanda. Hopefully we will meet with her again tonight to hear more of her story over a tasty pizza!

Feeling refreshed this morning, I was very pleased to start the day with a half hour of yoga…a personal challenge I have set myself for my time here in Uganda. After another delicious breakfast we strolled down the road to check out Entebbe Botanical Gardens where the original Tarzan movie was filmed (entry per person 10,000 UgSh or about £2, same again to hire a guide). We had a wonderful guide, Rafiki, who came to Uganda 15 years ago to escape the troubles in his native country of Democratic Republic of Congo. Rafiki works at the gardens to earn enough money to continue to fund his further studies in Botany, so if you are passing through give him a good tip! He really knows his stuff and introduced us to all the many plants and birds of the gardens, including kingfishers, egrets, storks, comorants, herons, bee-eaters and sunbirds! The most special moments though were feeding the gorgeous, friendly Vervus monkeys 😊 They are so well protected here that they have little fear and will quite happily come up to you greet you and take the hard corn you offer right from the palm of your hand. The whole troop came out to greet us, including the lovely babies, clinging to their siblings and feeding from their mothers. Additionally we were lucky enough to see the beautiful shy black and white Colobus monkeys up in trees! Apparently many people in Uganda used to kill the monkeys for food and for traditional medicines, so they are often scared of humans, but conservation areas like the botanical garden are helping to change attitudes and protect them.

After all that exertion in the heat we popped over to the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel to take a dip in their swimming pool (10,000 UgSh or about £2) and grab some lunch, after which we took a motorbike or “Boda Boda” back to the guest house for the very reasonable price fo 5000 UgSh (about £1). As if we weren’t relaxed enough already the ever thoughtful and helpful Anna the kindly arranged for her friend Tina, who works as a masseuse, to pop by and give us both an amazing foot massage (25,000 UgSh or about £5). Very helpful for sorting out post long haul flight dependent oedema!

So all in all we couldn’t have had a more welcoming and relaxing start to our time in Uganda! The people have been friendly, kind and helpful, the weather warm and balmy and everything has been running smoothly. However, fun as these 2 days have been it is time to get on with the real reason we came here and get ourselves down to our new home at Bwindi Community Hospital in the Impenatrable Jungle. I can’t wait to meet our new colleagues and get stuck in with work and day to day life in the community 😊

Permanent link to this article: https://www.clairemariethomas.com/2015/08/monkeys-massages-and-money-changing-2/


  1. Jen

    Glad you’re both settling in. Fingers crossed for no more spiders though!
    Jen (ceri’s sister) Xx

    1. Dr Claire Marie

      Hi Jen! No more giant spiders so far thank goodness!

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