Uganda

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Charcoal

There was a shortage of cooking gaz in the border region between Uganda and Congo, so we stopped to buy a couple of bags of charcoal in a small vilage on the road to Nebbi - Uganda. The vendors stuff the bags with charcoal, and then weave a cap made from grasses or leaves to get more in and to close them.

Of course, when a couple of white people stop over to buy some charcoal, the whole village has to see this.

Woman vending charcoal

Woman vending charcoal

Packing

First I take my underwear, generally for one week but I won't have time to do the laundry and I'll only be gone for nine days, so I take a bit more. Summer PJs, because it'll be warm, but also a sweater because at night it cools down quickly outside in eastern Congo. Then a couple of T-shirts and two polo shirts with the logo of my organisation. Three trousers with legs that I can zip off to turn them into shorts. I really should be some new ones, they're beginning to show their age.

Sandals, mustn't forget those! And a cap, to protect my head from the scorching sun; very important when one's hair is in retreat. Then it's time for the bathroom items. My toilet bag, a small towel and two washing cloths - mustn't forget to take a big towel from the closet in Wolf's room when he's sound asleep. I always forget that big towel - have to stuff it into my suitcase at the last moment.

Then it's time to fetch the medicine bag and check its contents. Sun tan lotion - although I never use it. Something against the runnings, something against headaches and fever, an antibiotic for when all else fails and doctors are far out of reach, something against terrorists and plane crashes and most importantly: a spray against mosquitoes.

Goes into the same bag: the electronics department: charger for my cell phone, charger for my iPod, webcam, headphones.

Down to the basement to delve into the camping box. Water flask, torch, compass, alarm whistle, sleeping bag, inflatable pillow and - again most importantly - mosquito net. Oh, that reminds me: mustn't forget the ball of string. You wouldn't believe the nets I weaved to hang that mosquito net from a mirror in one corner to the door and then a cross-wire to the nail in the wall and then trough the bathroom door to...

Did I pack some hankies? Oooh, this reminds me: the roll of toilet paper! Don't go to Africa without one. It's your one vital link to civilisation.

Finally something to read: three sturdy novels. Two in the big suitcase and one in the small backpack, to read on the plane. I'll stuff my photobag in my backpack too, together with my iPod. I bought new headphones today to replace the very basic fumbling things that are standard isue.

Batteries! I must recharge the batteries! Batteries for my camera! Batteries for my external flash! Batteries for my torch!

 

Tomorrow my plane takes off around 11:40 to Uganda, with a stop at Kigali, Rwanda's capital. The day after I'll fly to the border town of Arua with a local carrier, and then my colleagues will pick me up and drive me to Mahagi, where I'll stay for three days. At the end of the week, I'll fly to Kinshasa for two days of meetings. And next Tuesday I'll fly back to Europe, via Paris.

Good thing my suitcase has wheels.

The Bus To Uganda

Tomorrow morning, I'll take the 7:45 bus to Uganda. Via the airports of Brussels-Zaventem and Kigali, that is. And Wednessday, I'll hop on a small plane that will take me from Entebbe to Arua, a town on the western border not far from East Congo. There my colleagues will pick me up with their brand new Toyota Landcruiser and together we'll cross the border to Mahagi, the eastern most outpost of Congo.

I'll be gone for ten days, so you all behave and I'll bring you a small present, like I do for Wolf.

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