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Count yourself lucky

Oct 24 • 3404 views • 6 Comments on Count yourself lucky Africa, dogs, East Africa, Kampala, Lake Mburo National Park, Travel, Uganda, Volunteering

This week we’ve been busy: straining to glimpse African Presidents flying overhead in their Chinooks and swerving off the road as the Presidential motorcades plough past, to and from the African Union meetings being held in Kampala. It makes me sick to think I might be breathing the same air as Robert Mugabe.

There’s been sickness and death everywhere this week: our house girl’s 20 year old neighbour died after having an abortion done ‘in the village’ and a 15 year old boy bled to death after having a tooth removed. He was haemophiliac and had been losing blood for two weeks before being admitted to Mulago Hospital. It was too late by the time they gave him the transfusions.
Just when I think I’m used to life here, stories like this remind you how black and white life can be for people in developing countries. I’ve criticized the UK on many occasions but I never forget how lucky I am to have been born there. ‘An accident of fate’ we truly don’t know how lucky we are. Both of these deaths were entirely avoidable.
But the deaths that have really affected me this week are of my friends’ dogs.
Patrick and Victoria are crazy about animals. If they see a stray or neglected animal, they adopt it, and my lovely Baldrick is just one of many they’ve reared, trained and loved. Two months ago they had seven dogs, now they only have one. A rumour was circulating about dogs getting stomach cancer from posho (maize flour) which we feed the dogs, mixed with mukenne (tiny fish a bit like Whitebait). While at the beautiful Lake Mburo last week-end, I received a bizarre text saying his dogs were dying. Two days later five of them were dead. They were too upset to get autopsies done but the vet says they died of ‘severe poisoning.’ Foul play is not ruled out and now the concern is they’ll be robbed. You do hear of people’s dogs being poisoned before a break-in.
So I’m thinking of renaming Baldrick ‘Lucky.’ As a small puppy he was saved from drowning in a drainage ditch, his paws full of maggots. If he’d been with his old pack this week he would’ve been another victim. Needless to say he’s been getting lots of extra cuddles this week.
[PHOTO: live chickens last seen leaving Kampala on the back of a boda boda]
Back in Namuwongo, the street food vendors are back after the Cholera alert. Four people have died and 35 cases identified so it seems to have been contained. A number of houses have large red crosses on their walls (those without pit latrines / sanitation are marked for destruction).
Last week’s letter from the City Council of Kampala stated:
Reference is made to introduce our field staffs to you who are entrusted with the carrying out fumigation services to eradicate the spread of diseases such as Dysentery, Yellow Fever and curb any causes of Cholera, and to kill cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, bedbugs, bats, snakes, rats etc on behalf of City Council.
They are supposed to charge an amount of 5000/= for the septic tanks. If it is a pit latrine, it is 1500/= per each stance of every toilets.
We requested you to cooperate positively to enable us carry on this noble health work easily to avoid the spread of diseases within our areas.


Like Lake Windermere on a grey winter’s day, camping at Lake Mburo after the heavy rain hardly looked promising. But as the sun emerged, so did the wildlife.
[PHOTO: Dung Beetles totally rock!]
Driving along dark roads in Africa is not recommended so we’d stopped halfway, at Hotel Zebra in Masaka. Wonderful breakfast, fantastically friendly staff but not a zebra in sight.
“Grim” was Keith’s description of dinner down the road in Nyendo (I had to laugh). He was given meat in groundnut “g’nut” sauce. “I don’t even want to think about what it was” as he prodded it (I laughed some more).
My comment to the waitress “silya enyama” [I don’t eat meat] produced some hot fried cabbage. That, served with a big slab of matooke had me wondering how loud the night was going to be….
But then for just one British Pound what do you expect? Lesson here: don’t turn up at 11pm. Once the food’s all gone you just get given whatever’s left.

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6 Responses to Count yourself lucky

  1. lizziema says:

    What did I say about journalism! This post sounds exactly like something straight out of the BBC "From Our Own Correspondent". Keep well, keep safe and keep vegetarian!!!!

  2. PA says:

    Oh Charlotte you continue to scare the (non E4) pooh out of us!! So sad to hear of the loss of those poor dogs and no wonder Baldrick now seems even more special, but much sadder of course about the lad with haemophillia and the childbirth case as well. It all resonates so strongly with the first few pages of a book I have just started entitled Africa. Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden. I think it is going to be brilliant. Have you read it? Perhaps you recommended it to Mum (who bought it for my birthday).Keep safe my darling.xxPAxx

  3. Charlie says:

    Tx for the compliment Ma! Let's hope Lonely Planet readers think the same 🙂
    The Richard Dowden book sounds interesting Pa, do bring it with you.
    Didn't mean to scare you but life in a developing can be tough. Being a mzungu, I'm just a spectator on the worst parts of it.

    As for being charged by the warthog, Keith did walk a bit close to one!! They – and all the other wildlife – roam freely round the Lake Mburo campsite. They are 'habituated' i.e. used to humans but you still have to have your wits about you

  4. lizziema says:

    Sis would not count herself lucky at the moment as she and John have gastroenteritis from Egypt. What a waste of a much needed holiday and what a way to really get to know each other. Love is…. sharing your diahorrea…pooh!
    Very sad to hear all the above blog. Life is hard over there as we may find. I think I may become vegetarian excluding salad which may have been Sarahs undoing. She will have developed strong antibodies by the time she comes out to you. Her flight booked now and injections start soon.

  5. […] to my blog ‘Count yourself lucky’ written exactly two years […]

  6. […] to my blog ‘Count yourself lucky’ written exactly two years […]

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