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Swapping five-star luxury for makeshift tents

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More driving – will we ever get there…?

After a sketchy night’s sleep, punctuated by some fairly energetic and sustained mosquito swatting, we awoke to another day of driving. Again we all got a reminder of how tedious the filming process can be.

Simply filming us driving out of the hotel gates took the best part of a couple of hours. From my advertising days I was kind of prepared for it, but you could sense some frustration starting to creep in among the group. We were just all really keen to get to the village and start to get stuck in.

As we left Kabale I had a chance to have a look around. Really surreal – all the banks had guards outside holding old shotguns; it was like martial law. It was also really upsetting to see kids playing in the rubbish dump. Really brought it home that this is a poor area. There’s a big job for us to do out here.

The weather was beautiful on the trip and the scenery was stunning – much more lush than I’d thought it would be and totally dominated by farming. Literally every square inch of land out here seems to be farmed. There were also loads of people on the sides of the roads selling their produce. It got me starting to think about some ideas for how the process of selling crops could possibly be done in a more efficient and collaborative way.

After what seemed like an age, we finally neared the village. We turned off the "main" road onto what can only be described as a 4×4 testing course. This is the sort of thing that all those Chelsea Tractor owners in London dream of. Not. Still, at least we were almost there.

Rush hour…

We’ve made it. Finally.

First up, to give you a bit of background as to where we’re staying, it’s a village called Nykasiru in south-western Uganda, close to the Rwandan border. The village has about 1,000 inhabitants spread across two "parishes". It is really off the beaten track, but lush and very beautiful.

The first thing we did when we arrived was to head to our living quarters to get settled. The villagers and the production crew have done a great job to get us set up. There are four army-style tents, three of which we sleep in. The fourth is used as a social tent, complete with a gas stove and solar panels to provide lighting during filming (perhaps someone had forgotten to tell Steve that the panels were already on site…).

There are also some BYO showers (ie, BYO water!) and a big fire pit outside that looks like a great place for us all to sit around, put the world to rights and plan our different projects.

Our new home

We started divvying up our digs: I’m sharing a tent with Steve and Shahid; Tony and Dom are sharing another tent; and all the girls are taking the third.

All the mod cons…

The welcoming committee

After dumping our stuff, we met Rudo – World Vision’s contact on the ground out there. We chatted about the challenges facing us and what World Vision hopes we’re actually going to achieve. Then we headed into the village for the first time.

Meeting our new neighbours

When we arrived, there was a welcoming committee waiting for us – seemed, in fact, like the whole community had turned out to greet us. There were people singing and dancing, and before we knew it we’d got sucked into the whole thing.

Forty-eight hours ago I was sitting in a meeting with a financial analyst and now here I was dancing with seven other entrepreneurs and hundreds of villagers. In Uganda! It was actually really emotional – several of the group were in tears and it really brought home again how much expectation and hope rests on the trip. Time to start planning.

So, after looking like that embarrassing uncle on the dance floor at the family wedding for a little too long, we headed back to camp. We were all pretty whacked from the journey (and our dancing exploits), so after doing individual interviews with the crew we headed straight to bed.

Snore-Gate…

There’s a snorer in our midst…and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the girls….The morning after

I think after all the travelling and the emotions of arriving, we all slept pretty well (snoring interruptions notwithstanding). We were up early though and the first task was to go and fetch our water for the day. This was clearly TV gold for the production crew – a bunch of bleary-eyed millionaires trudging a mile up the road to fetch their own water.

Anyway, with grim but resolute expressions, we soldiered on. We filled up our respective tanks then I made the big (BIG) mistake of getting all chivalrous and offering to carry Yvonne’s water back for her. So there’s me – and bear in mind I haven’t been to the gym for… well, forever actually – with no food inside me, bloody great tanks of water sloshing around alarmingly on each shoulder and a whole camera crew, wide-eyed and virtually hopping with excitement, capturing the whole thing on film. Not a good state of affairs at all, I can tell you.

Back at camp, as I was still seeing stars and breathing somewhat erratically, I made my second big mistake of the day: taking a shower. With no mains, the water we’d carted back was the water we used to shower. Only problem is that at that early hour of the morning the water is pretty darn cold. Pretty darn cold, indeed.

I was reliably informed that the Tarzan-like bellow I made when I first stepped under the icy cold water had birds flying out of trees in alarm up to four miles away. It was only afterwards (before I’d fully regained all feeling in my extremities) that the camera crew suggested it may be prudent for me to leave my water tank in the sun to warm up in the heat of the day.

Camera Crew 2 – Bishop 0.So how will this intrepid explorer get on without his creature comforts? Watch this space for more of Seb’s diary entries…

See also:

Roughing it in rural UgandaGoodbye Blighty, hello AfricaEmotions run highEco-tourism – a potential goldmine?

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