I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Feel your feelings, read and travel.

First of all you guys, Chuma Nwokolo Jr. just followed me on twitter.  I don’t know. The world is so strange. My great grandmother, Apenyo the 1st would not be able to wrap her head around why a thing such as a ‘follow’, a little bit of finger pressure on the right space of computer screen would make a person so hysterical with joy. I barely understand it myself.

Chuma is the author responsible for Diaries of a Dead African, one of my favorite books this year.

Read this book

Read this book

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me eat a lot. Give my mind a moment to explode with bright yellow joy.

Yes, it disturbed me that the few female characters in the book were two dimensional, but  Meme Jumai will always live in my head. I’ve made for him a special space where things like desperation and hunger and indignity don’t exist. His section was my favorite.

*

I’m still obsessing over what my Thursday posts should be about. Should they chronicle the little dramas in my life? Should they be about herbs? Sigh.

For this post, the first idea that came to me was: What to do when you’re contacted by an ex who you have very deliberately cut out of your life? This is probably the most used and abused subject in the history of the internet, but I wanted to add my angst filled voice to the choir, but then I actually met with him and my anger went away. How disappointing.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

I then considered writing about the process of finding your correctness and how you can get thrown off your path by hypocritical and condescending people who are convinced that they know you and the workings of your mind better than you do. But then I realized it would get too personal then I’d begin to over edit, then I’d just choke on angst and die.

Sometimes, an asshole is somebody you appreciate on other levels and it is better to shift your focus on to things that matter.  Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu and all that.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

*

You all know how much I love traveling. Travel writing is something I’d like to dedicate a large part of my life to.  Sabili Tours contacted me at the beginning of the year and together, we came up with a campaign called Around Uganda in 7 trips. These guys are passionate about getting young Ugandans to travel around their country.

This talk nti being a tourist is for bazungu is just lazy. People are coming from other continents to look at your baboons and to hike up your mountains and to rent rooms around your tea plantations and you’re here in Kampala choking on matatu fumes. People, tutravelinge!

Come and we model next to falls and such

Come and we model next to falls and such

Season 3 of Around Uganda in 7 trips is taking us to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is going to be brilliant on so many levels (foh exampo):

1. Road trip!

2. Spending the night close to animals that you have probably only ever seen on TV.

3. Actually meeting these animals (from a safe distance).

4. Hanging out with some of the coolest people I know.

Click this link to see evi-da of how epic these trips get and then book your place.

In final news, Sunday is going to be a very special day in my life because Writivism is taking me to Hilton High School to read and discuss True to Nothing with the literature club there. Bless them.   

To find out more about my involvement with the Writivism competition, watch this video. 

Kawa Apenyo out!

See you on Monday 

x

Somebody Please Banish Me to Bule.

Bliss

Bliss

My dream is to travel around the world and write. Because a lifestyle like this will need serious financing, I see myself working a 9-5 job for at least 5 more years.

To stop bands of frustration from forming around my heart and mind, I take every opportunity to play pretend.  I morph into a tourist at least once a day.

As I am leaving home in the morning, I  say Apenyo, you are now a Kenyan college student who’s just checked in at Malaba

or  Apenyo, you are now a rebellious  Batwa (Mutwa?)  teenager who has run away from her home to explore the world.

Too few Ugandans possess a sense of wonder about their country, preferring to dream of vacations in “outside countries”.  Oba we think every centimeter of the world is as gorgeous as our home and so we don’t bother exploring? Fake stuff.

Bule is not really an Island. If you travel long enough in a straight line, the murram road that cuts through shaggy, unpredictable forest will deliver you to the heart of Mukono. This is disappointing to me. I like to imagine Bule as a tiny island, surrounded by waters rich in mukene. In reality it is some kind of peninsula.

The first time I traveled there, it was in the company of a fun but also peevish friend who refused to tell me where we were going; not when we were getting into the Ggaba taxi at Cooper Complex, not when we were whizzing past Kansanga. Not even when he was telling me to board one of the taxi-boats at Ggaba’s landing site did he say “Hey, I know of this island* with gorgeous beaches and that’s where I’m taking you”.

He just became irritated with me for asking.

I am happy that I went with the flow that day because the taxi-boat delivered us to a place whose loveliness hasn’t diminished in all the 3 occasions that I have been there. There is too much to see, to fear, smell and touch.

My irritation with my irritated friend had disappeared!

My irritation with my irritated friend had disappeared!

As the boat approaches Bule’s shore, about a meter way, you hear raucous chirping. It’s rising from a short but sturdy looking tree that’s growing out of the water. The tiny yellow birds that call it home are too many to count. Their nests are identically sized and hang from every available branch!

The moment I noticed that some of the nests were still green as a result of being constructed with fresh twigs, I considered bursting into tears of wonder. Why? Because, come on, how often does one find opportunity to burst into tears of wonder? Green nests and brown nests, green and brown all over the tree with tiny yellow birds flitting from branch to branch, nest to nest and all the while, making shrill contributions to the conversation they are perpetually having.

There are four “beaches” on Bule. Before last weekend, I had only been to Mutoola, so I bless the Boda boda men at the dock for happily educating my partner and I about our options. Really they had nothing to lose. They were going to profit by charging us three times more than they charge people who know their way around the place.

Lagoon Resort, they said, is for bazungu. “It is nice, but if you don’t have money, hmm, you go to the other places. Those are BaGermany.” They were right. The place seems geared towards expats kubanga they charge (heavily) in dollars. It would cost us 200 dollars to spend a night, the receptionist said, and we couldn’t bring any drinks or eats in.

I am an old hand at Bule, so I know that if you don’t carry food from Ggaba, you are likely to starve. Well, unless you can hunt squirrels and bush rats. Most things that you’d like to eat while at the beach come from the mainland and so the hotel people need for you to communicate your intention to eat hours before you arrive. Not even fish will be on hand because there is no electricity to keep stuff fresh. 

We left Lagoon and after a short walk, arrived at the gate of a place called Lakeside Adventure Park.

I won't call it Eden. That will be too much. But it's close.

I won’t call it Eden. That will be too much. But it’s close.

It was deserted. A few minutes’ exploration revealed that Lakeside had an even better ambiance than Lagoon. We were walking around, mouths agape, worrying about how much we would have to pay to spend the night in such a place when we came upon a lean man wearing a yellow shirt and grey pants. He introduced himself to us as Mr. Perfect.

Perfect had a removed, somewhat supercilious manner until we told him that we were looking for a place to spend the night. Perhaps he always has to send stragglers away, who just wander in, looking for a place to picnic without paying the 10,000 entrance fee. However, as people with intentions to spend money there, we didn’t have to pay this fee.

We were happy with what Perfect had to say. It would cost us 40,000 shillings to spend a night in a tent erected a few meters from Lake Nalubaale’s shore. We also had the option of sleeping in the dormitory at 30,000 a head, or making use of the “family house” which is fitted with solar electricity and other amenities, for 150,000 (4 people). We took the tent option.

We had muffins, waragi, a box of fruit juice, pineapples and a kilogram of raw pork. That’s right. Lakeside allows, even encourages patrons to bring their own food in. For 5000, we had the use of their kitchen.

As our tent was being pitched, we explored the climbing courses that occupies a good amount of space on Lakeside’s lawn. They are intricately constructed and I imagine, fascinating to climb.

I hadn’t padded my wallet enough to afford a go (60,000) but I watched some people complete it the next day. Oh the joys of watching a human being overcome terror. It was like witnessing an excruciatingly slow bungee jump; all of the terror with none of the merciful swiftness.

I spent two days lazing about on different surfaces, wearing few to zero clothes, just breathing deep and falling in love with life.

Eating life

Eating life

At one point, we ran out of cash and had to take a boda boda to Mpaata, a shanty town some miles from Lakeside for mobile money. When we arrived, the network was off. We didn’t despair for very long, deciding to do a nature walk instead of panicking.

Bule is one thickass forest, you guys. I swear it is like the set of Land of the lost. It was the most romantic (and amusing) thing watching my partner uproot a long, flexible, reedy plant that he started to use as his staff (and swat-stick). What was it for, I wonder? Protection from snakes and large squirrels?

What had Bule turned him into? Moses of the Bible? George of the Jungle? Both?

I love creeper plants and this place is home to such a variety!  I just want to move there and build a tree-house and make babies.

Not actual babies.

Eventually we got our M-money and carried on pretending that we’d never have to return to Kampala.

Reading boat

This boat became my reading chair.

If you want to travel to Bule, this is what you need to do:

  • Shop. Take a taxi to Ggaba. Walk to the dock and enter a taxi boat. Fare is 1,500/=

  • If you don’t want to be sweated on by other passengers (these boats get PACKED), take a “special hire” one. This will cost you anything from 15 bob to 6 bob. Bargain in Luganda.

  • Don’t be just staring at your smartphone like an idiot when in the boat. You will miss the special tree with the special nests!

  • Remember the names of the beaches. I totally, 100% recommend Lakeside. No they haven’t paid me to do kalango. They should, right? Ha

  •  Don’t allow the boda to charge you more than 2000/=. Go forth and enjoy.

  • Take the climbing course at Lakeside. Terror is good for personal growth. Climb, jump, zip, duck, use your body. Turn some of the bacon fat around your heart into energy.

  • Take pictures! I didn’t take very many, but here’s hoping that my words painted a good enough picture.

  • Go explore Bule and tell people about it because because a place like that should not be a secret

Update: Forget my sad pictures. These people have a fantastic gallery

My next big adventure is a two day trip to Murchison Falls with a truly great tour company called Sabili Tours. Come and we go :D!


The end

Uganda’s best kept secret is on Bule island.

And I have yammered about it so much that it is now Uganda’s worst kept secret. Bule is wild, beautiful and a 10 minute boat ride away from Ggaba. I am going to tell you all about my trip soon. Tomorrow like.

Sharon, lovely lady,  you and your friends can feed your curiosity on these pictures for now. The main course is coming soon!

So much beauty.

So much beauty.

Me rocking some shorts

Me rocking some shorts

The jetty! One of the wonders of Lakeside Adventure Park

The underwater jetty! One of the wonders of Lakeside Adventure Park

My travel partner is as cute as all of the buttons

My travel partner is as cute as all of the buttons

Come jump with me

How much of Uganda have you seen? What does a holiday mean to you? Because whenever my friends are making holdiay plot, they say, “Let’s go to Mombasa. Or let’s go to Zanzibar and have the time of our lives. We won’t live forever!”

I love traveling and I love writing, so becoming a fulltime travel writer is one of my biggest dreams.  Things are already coming together. I am now working with Sabili Tours, a fantastic travel agency that is taking me on all of their trips in exchange for my words. Aren’t I lucky?

The first one is to jinja, where I am going to sail the Nile and then choose between bungee jumping or white water rafting. I’m 99% sure that I’m going to pick bungee jumping because 1, I am terrified of it (challenges ooye!!) and because white water rafting involves too much bumbly bumbly. Rowing is just hard work. So. Bungee jumping it is.

Uganda is beautiful. And weird. And fun. And terrifying. Don’t be spending moolah travelling miles and miles to other countries before you have fully experienced all of the madness that your home has to offer.

Friends, come and we go? Sabili Tours is looking to make dime, obviously, but one of the reasons I respect their cause is that they are truly passionate about Uganda, and about the disadvantaged among us. 10 bob off every ticket is going to a charity called 40 days 40 smiles.  Here’s a poster (created by Solomon Isanka)

sabilli tours prev (1)

Kawa. I have told you. Now let me prepare to go to the beach with my lover.