A slight sense of muddle seems to pervade Uganda. Nevertheless, it is quite unusual even in this country for a town not even to be certain of its own name.
|Plaque in Toro golf club|
|I know it's a bad photo, but it was raining at the time!|
One suspects, however, that the golfers in the Toro golf club are not overly concerned by historical niceties. Their only frissons of danger come from golf clubs brandished at dawn.
|Looking down the 1st/10th fairway|
Now, anyone who knows anything about golf knows that it is rule-ridden. People who shilly-shally don’t play golf. ‘Muddle’ is an unknown concept. Flexibility and responsiveness? Absolutely not. Rules, regulations, rigid etiquette: golf has them all.
Not, however, in Fort Portal.
It is certainly generous of the Toro golfers to share their course with the occasional cow. And the route across the course from the main road to the market makes perfect sense to shoppers. However, when it comes to the doubling up of the nine holes into the requisite eighteen, something seems to go dangerously wrong. Golfers, those most rule-bound of people, criss-cross the fairways at will. If you are playing the first while others are playing the ninth, then you share the fairway. While you amble down the fifth, up comes the party playing the eighth. Not to mention the fact that the first is also the tenth, the fifth is the fourteenth, the eighth is the 17th and so on. Makes sense, saves effort and deals with Uganda’s over-population all at the same time. All you need to do is duck as the missiles come flying over. It is a fort after all. If you’re not quick enough, then that’s your problem. Survival of the fittest is one of the oldest rules of all.
Did I mention the Rwenzori Mountains, that long spine which separates Uganda from Congo, snowy peaks to the south, gentler foothills further north, near Fort Portal? It is the highest mountain range in Africa. Its highest peak is Mount Stanley (5,110m). Only Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenya are higher. By the way, 85% of Uganda lies between 900 and 1,500 meters above sea level, hence the pleasant climate even though it's on the equator. ('Enough education,' says Stuart.)
|As usual, not bothering to look at the scenery..|
|Tea plantation near Fort Portal|
|Terraced slopes which then plunge deep into the Rift Valley|
|If they were sheep, it could be Scotland|
|Looking down over the plain|
|Sticking closely to our guide|
|Huge trees rear up above the forest floor, their roots above ground.|
|Female hot spring|
|Male hot spring|
The human interlopers bumble clumsily back along the tracks, hot and sticky, careful to avoid the soldier ants which cross their paths. Back in the clearing, they clamber into their four-wheel drives and off they go. The local inhabitants breathe a sigh of relief and settle back down to their evening routines. Not much muddle here. After all, unlike the golfers, they've been practising their swings for thousands of years.
|Twilight on the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains|
You may also be interested in the following posts:
Peace and tranquility in the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve
A symbol of Uganda by the shores of Lake Albert