February 26, 2012

Drouin and Noojee

Back on new years long weekend, I was down Drouin way with my brother. One of the days we spent looking around the Noojee area. I think the day we looked around has been about the hottest day of the year, but the photos don’t show how hot it is!

Underneath the ferns though and along the river, it was quite pleasant and you forgot that it was fairly warm. We stopped off at the Noojee trestle bridge, which was the longest trestle bridge at the time it was built. Used by the trains, but of course trains have long since left the area. Took a wander down the old railway line into the Noojee township. If they hadn’t have told us it was 2km, we’d never have guessed it was that far.

We stopped off in the centre of Noojee to have a look at the map of the landmarks and areas of interest in Noojee. Overall though, the area isn’t signposted that well…

The Toorongo Falls on the Little Toorongo River and Ampitheatre falls on the Toorongo River are worth a look. Supposedly you can swim in the river around the area there, but seeing as it’s nearly small enouogh to be a stream, and flows through a forest, with rocks around it, I’m not sure exactly where you could swim. As we were leaving a carload of young kids pulled up, jumped out with all their swimming gear on and were ready to head off running up the track. Should have seen their faces when we said there’s not really any place you can swim… I think they were going to try and clamber over the rocks, and sit in the river, but that’s about all they’d be doing around the falls area.

After the falls we tried to find the Ada tree. This tree is supposed to be one of Victoria’s largest trees at 76 metres tall and a 15m circumfrence. Unfortunately for us, we never made it there. We took Turkey Spur Road, which according to the map at the river was meant to take us to the Ada Tree, but we were nearly at the end of the road when we came across a tree across the road. Not a huge one, but big enough to stop us and too big to move. So nothing else we could do but abandon the journey and go home. Driving through the hill areas though, we were both of the agreement that there’s no way we’d like to be caught in an area like this in a bushfire. You can see how people die in those areas, the roads twist and turn, they take the long way, the fire would take the short way, not to mention the potential for fallen logs over the road.

By the way – if you’re looking for a good restaurant in the area, the Thai Restaurant in Warragul is great!

In a jam

Filed under: Food,Idle Ramblings — pearsey @ 1:01 pm

Blood plums would have to be one of my favourite fruits, which goes all the way back to when I was a kid and we’d go out to nan’s and eat the plums straight from her tree. Nan would also make plum jam, which would also have to be my favourite jam. Nothing beat Nan’s plum jam, with scones that Nan had freshly baked in her wood fired stove, topped with some whipped cream. Since Nan passed away a while ago, we haven’t had the plums to make the jam and stocks at Mum’s were getting a little low. A lady at work brought in some blood plums the other day, so I took them home and made some jam. It was my first ever attempt at jam, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Here’s the finished product!

Plum Jam

February 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Filed under: Trips,Uganda — pearsey @ 7:55 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Well, the time is finally here. The last few days of my 6 weeks in Uganda are about to come to an end. And yeah, sadly it’s only taken me about 534 days to write a blog post about it… Ewww, that hurts…
After my last ministry engagement, I had about 1 and a half days free before I had to fly out. In those few days I had to finish getting some presents for everyone and take a last look around the area. I’d decided that something truly Ugandan to take back to Aus would be some thongs made out of old car tyres.

Around the Kampala area, it actually took us ages to find some. We’d been into Kampala to get a few things and went to a market there and picked up a few more traditional souvenirs, but the thongs proved a little more difficult. We’d stopped off at most of the markets along the way home – anywhere it looked like they may have footwear and we did get a few odd looks walking through the markets as we by passed their best footwear in search of something a little more lower class. Finally, at one of the bigger markets toward the edge of town – we spotted something a little promising so we wandered over and had a look. They were indeed tyre thongs! And we had our choice of shops as well! The guy looked a little surprised when I asked him for about 6 or 7 pairs of tyre thongs. He started to argue (I mean really, I’m trying to buy his stuff!!) “but they last a long time…” We tried to buy the biggest ones he had. Mike tried on one pair and it only just fitted, so the only thing I can determine is that Ugandans have much smaller feet than we do. After completing the purchase, and somehow figuring out a way to carry them, we grabbed a couple of boda bodas and headed home with our bounty. We got plenty of funny looks! (Skip forward to present giving at home: Was pretty funny watching the guys try on these thongs that were hopelessly too small in most cases, but were the biggest I could get!)

Decided it was also time to have another look around Kanyanya – get a few photos that I’d been going to get and check out the stage area (basically the “town” part of the area, where the shops are, where the people gather and where you can grab a boda boda from, is called a stage).

Mike and I entertained the locals for a while with the footy, but it all went wrong somebody mis-kicked and it brought down an overhead wire in our compound (later determined to be the landlords landline), so we headed off for the stage area which is just a short walk from where they were living. Strangely we left around lunch time, but without having lunch. So we decided to pick up some street food. We met a young guy cooking some “pizzas” (photo below). The name caught our attention and we drifted over to see what it was, because there was no oven at this little street vendor. Just a bbq looking thing with something that looked nothing like pizzas cooking on it. We asked him what was in it, but really we didn’t understand him and were no wiser. The pile of eggshells underneath the bbq hinted that there was at least eggs in this thing that looked more like a potato cake gone wrong. So we grabbed a few pizzas and continued on our walking tour. I don’t think I’d be rushing back to grab some more “pizzas”, but when you’re hungry and after some fast food in Uganda, that’s kinda what you get.

We were heading along Gayaza road, looking for a turn off where they had some interesting fence boundaries that I’d seen on my tour with James. Along the way we passed a barber shop. The guy there was a young fella and started yelling out “muzungu” (white man) as they do whenever they see white people. So Mike started talking back to him in Ugandan and a few minutes later, Mike’s given away the last of my pizza in exchange for some food the barber had. Good thing they weren’t that good…

We found the road that I’d walked down with James and Solomon and we headed up to Kanyanya hill (read about it here). Mike had been to Kanyanya Hill years ago, on an earlier trip, but this was the first time he’d been back since. Sadly there was no improvement – just more dirt missing. It was good to sit at the top and look over the area and see it from a different angle to when you’re walking through it. We came back down to catch up with Ben before I left, and came home via another friendly Ugandan. We were heading down the hill talking loudly in tongues to each other and being rather animated – he had no idea what language it was and he was trying everything he knew to greet us. French, English, Australian, German…

Shirley made me some porridge for breakfast one of these days – said I couldn’t leave without trying some traditional Ugandan porridge. Yeah. Umm… Yeah. I’m sure it’s not Shirley’s cooking skills put it that way.

Checked out James’s house and chook shed the last night. It was a humbling experience, one, that he allowed me to have a look around and two, to see a family home that was so different to what I had been staying in right next door, but yet still knowing that he is still better off than many many others.

The last morning I woke early – not so much because I was going home, but more so because I was trying to get back on Australian time sooner rather than later. Melbourne is 8hrs in front of Kampala, not a huge difference, but enough. Of course it was a near perfect day, one of the best mornings there’d been.

I decided to head down to the stage area and do something rather than sitting around waiting to go to the airport. Walked outside the gate and had only walked about 20 or 30 meters when a young guy on a boda boda stopped to give me a lift. I really wasn’t so keen on paying a boda boda to take me another 300 meters, but when he insisted it would cost me nothing, I jumped on. I think he was more interested in having a muzungu on his bike rather than the few shillings he would have got for taking me where he was going anyway. I got a few extra edible souvenirs at the shop then looked around for the same boda boda driver to take me back (and yes, I was going to pay him!). But he was nowhere to be found, so I grabbed another guy. One thing about being a muzungu in a mudugavu world (mudugavu = black man) was that everyone knew where you lived. I went to tell him where to take me and he cut me short. I know where you live. Good thing he said it with a smile…

We took some farewell shots, finally finally finalised the packing, then headed for the airport. Took some videos of the rough roads along the way and of course, got stuck in traffic jams (Mike traveled about 30 meters while I had time to jump out, run to the ATM away in the distance, withdraw money and get back in the car…) and managed to part with more shillings as the street salesmen took advantage of those stuck in traffic.

Of course I had to stop at Nicky’s pizza for lunch – as is the tradition and enjoyed a game of pool and some delicious pizza. Got to the airport and was suspiciously running late, so when I did get to check in she just said go to the boarding gate. Oh well, I’d spent 5 minutes looking around at the shops at the airport before, I wasn’t missing much!

I put myself on Bendigo time and tried to get used to the fact that my holiday was nearly over and I was heading back to a climate that was a little cooler than I was used to. It was with mixed feelings that I watched the last of the Ugandan land for as long as I could. Mixed because I was sad that another adventure was over, sad to leave the people I’d met, but on the other hand I was heading home to the land I love.

Anyway, marathon journey home – hung out in the Dubai airport for about 10 hours (not long enough to get a room) and all the while was hanging out for sleep. Was absolutely determined though not to sleep if it was not sleep time at home, so consequently when Gary picked me up from the airport very early on Sunday morning, I had had very little sleep (who sleeps on a plane) and no way was I going to sleep until either I climbed into bed, or I was in the car on the way home. I think mum and dad were actually expecting me to tell them about the trip on the way home, but after nearly 24 hours without sleep, I didn’t say much at all.

In short, Uganda is a great place to visit. It has plenty of dust, plenty of lovely sweet pineapples, plenty of amazing ice cream, loved the passionfruit, the scenery and the people. Loved getting a chance to minister in another country and share the gospel with them. Highlights were the Serengeti and Murchison Falls. Will be going back again to Uganda, God willing.

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