Francis checking up on his phone as we took a break at the Kibuli hill. #MountainSlayersUganda
We were all looking forward to enjoying a few paintball games at Adonai. It had been a while since the Ssezibwa and griffin falls trip so paintball came up just at the right time. We get to Adonai and the first red flag we see was the lousy zip line set up just at the gate. We didn’t mind it since we hadn’t come for that so we proceeded to the waiting/ dressing area where we also signed disclaimer forms that absolved Adonai from any responsibility should an injury be sustained when one takes their protective gear off. That document gives one the impression that things get real down at the shooting course. Everything was good and you could feel the anxiety in the air as we waited for the paintball course to free up.
The second red flag was the old, torn, faded gowns they handed for us to switch into before leaving for the course. We figured since it’s a muddy place having fancy gowns would be a waste so we everyone grabbed what fit, got a paintball gun and we followed one of the referees, Nassim I believe, down to the muddy shooting course. We handed the guns over to be filled up with the green paint balls and gas placed into the small gas cylinders that power the gun propulsion system.
We were even taken through the rules of engagement, split into teams, we deployed into the battlefield, whistles were blown for the games to start and that’s when things started going downhill.
The paintball guns kept jamming, most of them had gas leaks so the gas run out faster than it normally should which all led to to incessant pausing of the game. We practically didn’t do any battle because the guns failed to work.
What was disappointing was that there was never a sign at any one time that we were getting a refund despite the fact that they didn’t deliver the paintball experience as advertised. They kept receiving money from clients like everything was okay and running smoothly. I don’t believe management at Adonai believes in refunds because efforts to reach them went in vain so we left very unhappy people. We got scammed!
The only thing that saved the day was the pork and booze some of us drowned in later in the night. They helped wash away the feelings of disappointment, anger and embarrassment that creeped into most of us that day after that immensely disappointing paintball experience at Adonai.
Your teeth may have not started having conversations with each other, but everything you touch seems wet. When such weird and seemingly unnatural things start happening, you know you are experiencing your first winter as a Ugandan.
Now as one, I’m sure many of my country mates harbour at least a dream of experiencing winter. Snow and its magic have been sold to us and swallowed hook and sinker. Who can blame us, it was getting a bit too hot in Uganda when I left. But these winter dreams always involve some location in the west. Europe, America, those who know a bit more about the world talk of Siberia, Canada, Japan and even Burma. What never comes to mind is traveling down south, over the vast beautiful continent of Africa to South Africa.
I always knew there was a winter down here, I mean, geography is one reason I’m here. In class we were taught that the tropics exist to define the area between the tropic of Capricorn and Cancer. Outside these, you get the famous 4 seasons. But South Africa isn’t that far from the damn tropic of something. So never did I think winter here would mean anything more than visiting Kabale (coldest district in western Uganda) dressed in only shorts and vest.
Well there’s always a time to be wrong and this wasn’t one of the best.
Get rained on
I’m not a sporty person. I tried a bit of basketball in primary school and hurt my middle finger a week to final exams. In the words of a famous Ugandan comedian, my finger looked like a sausage. Later in life, I run the compulsory qualifying for the school sports day. We did it according to class streams and I came third. Still didn’t sign up. But a while back, I was in Midrand, home to the only grand prix track on the continent. I like formula one, the mix of man and machine, skills and luck at play. So the Kyalami track in Midrand is like a football fan visiting Old Trafford or going to that camp in Spain. There was no race, and my experience with the track was being driven alongside and having it in my background for the rest of the evening.
See, following in the footsteps of my aunt, I had cousins visiting South Africa. They were here for a work function in Midrand. Their timing however wasn’t on point. The previous morning snow fall had been reported in a neighbouring province, I was like DaFaq? When I got to Midrand, it was wet, wet and freaking cold! Luckily the function was in a conference centre. Unfortunately, this meant every smoke had to be taken outside, and there was no veranda. So every 15minutes or so, there I was striking up conversations with random people in the sub-zero drizzle. I woke up the next day with the mother of all colds. Now this cold was like no other, I felt sick, and it lasted 2 weeks. Winter was here!
A long-sleeved under shirt
See Uganda is at the equator, the sun kisses us every day, at times giving us some tongue even. In this situation, most people, myself included, wore vests underneath whatever. This basically kept the back of your shirt from attaching itself to your back, by means of sweat. But a good vest would probably make you feel hotter, since it may have been thicker than your shirt.
My Johannesburg vest usage is a little different. It’s possible to wear the vest, and nothing else, during the summer days. Its winter now though, and the vest has given way to a long-sleeved under shirt. Everything goes over this thing.
Deodorants no longer serve a purpose
Similar to the vest, moving without wearing deodorant in Kampala is suicide. If you don’t die from the stench of your own pits, someone next to you probably will. This meant I run through a stick of deodorant in about 4 months. The stick I brought with me in January is still in use, and barely half way.
The shower and you, a romance in its infancy
I’ve never liked showering. It falls in the same category as laying a bed to me. Why bother when you’ll just have to do it again. I grew up however and at least appreciated the hugs and smiles a showered body could bring. This still didn’t mean that I would shower just to chill home on a Sunday. With winter however, a warm shower is more helpful than coffee. Get in there and just stand till the bathroom is full of steam. The warmth you’ll feel is only comparable to being in the womb, or at least its outer entrance.
So there you have it, if you experience any of the above. You are experiencing your first winter. Pick up your Mu summer card on your way out.
| Abong Brian