Kabale has a big colourful local market selling all kinds of tropical fruit, vegetables and meats. When Kanyo let us loose to pick up supplies for lunches the following day we had a field day gathering our staple lunch of avocado, tomato, red onion and green peppers (capsicum) to make into a delicious salsa to go on crackers. For 5000 shillings (US$2) we got bag of vegies and fruit for lunches for two days. This was actually quite pricey, for we are absolutely terrible at haggling, suffering from “sympathy syndrome”, always giving in really quickly thinking how little it is to us and how much it is to them. Without a doubt when the locals see a foreigner they put their prices up to suit, even Kanyo the Kenyan endures the brunt of muzungu prices having to pay a surcharge when shopping for us in the markets. Perhaps we should have hidden around the corner?
Our local guide took us through the community introducing us to the residents, who didn’t mind having their photo taken, or showing off their marijuana joints and crops. One kind lady invited us into her miniscule home where up to six people can live with only one bed and a small floor area with a fire for cooking. The oldest man in the village is an 80 year old fellow who seemed slightly crazy as he muttered to our guide in his local language and danced around stamping his feet shouting, “HUH…HUH, HUH, HUH”. It was hard to comprehend what he was saying. Our guide told us he is an unreliable source of information in his old age, telling her a different story every time she visits.
The room with the two year olds was hectic and noisy, they didn’t seem to like us and were all crying in hysterics the moment we walked into the room, although Hamish did well calming them. We met Jackson an adorable 6 year old, the eldest child here, who is intellectually disabled and cannot walk, he was so excited to see us he had a huge grin on his face and tried to move himself to be with us. The centre is very new and the facilities sufficient to look after the 31 children, 20 whom are under one year old, along with the 50 carers and one doctor. Our guide told us if they had more money they could look after more children, there are so many more suffering everyday in this region. We were told it costs GBP£60 per month for baby food and nappies, and GBP£38 for a carer for each child. When most people earn less than $1 per day keeping the centre running is costly for the local community, so they rely heavily on foreign donations. Once again as we farewelled the children we felt done over by King Sheba, thinking he would contribute money to the orphanage as he said he would, but we never saw any money pass hands, and the guide asked for anything we could contribute, prompting us to each chip in a further US$5, not that we minded considering how much this place needs it, but just what was Sheba doing?
Kisoro relies heavily on tourism generated by the surrounding Virunga mountains, volcanoes and lakes which offer hiking, kayaking and most excitingly the opportunity to trek to see the endangered Mountain Gorillas. There are only 700 mountain gorillas left on the planet, 350 of which live in this tri-border region under strict conservation guidelines. Through these conservation efforts their numbers are starting to increase, but the threat of habitat destruction and poaching still remains. Like their cousin the chimpanzee in Queen Elizabeth National Park the gorillas are valuable “bushmeat”, it was said even the Batwa ate them occasionally. Because we had splurged in South America to visit Antarctica our funds were very limited, and sadly we had to make some sacrifices, one of which was this once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing our gorilla cousins, the largest primate in the world, in their natural habitat. At US$700 a pop this activity was far out of our reach. Instead we wanted to climb a nearby volcano, but with the bad weather turning the trail into an impassable mudslide we were unable too do so, and quite frankly we just didn’t want to put any more money in dodgy Sheba’s pocket. While everyone woke up at 6am on the day of the trek the poor old Aussies, Treeny, Olivia, and Jesse and honorary bogan Iain had a lovely sleep-in followed by a day of relaxation, or for Jesse and Liv a visit to Potters Village. We were so depressed all day that we were not participating, and when everyone finally returned from the trek, excited and hysterical from their unforgettable experience, flashing around their unbelievable close-up shots of the furry beasts, we couldn’t help but feel sad and envious that we missed out. We had seen the Gorilla’s up close at Jersey Zoo anyway…does that count?
Next stop we cross the border into Rwanda to learn about the atrocities of the genocide in Kigali…
Click here to view our photo gallery of Kabale to Kisoro.
If you would like to donate to Potters Village to help support the young children there, please visit the Just Giving website here. Or, if you would like to Sponsor a child you can do so on the Potters Village Website here.