Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Back in Iceland!

We are back in Iceland! 

Can´t say the feeling wasn´t a bit weird, the mixture of happiness and sadness. However Iceland greeted us fairly, with warm hugs from friends and family, but at the same time FREEZING coldness, that bit your skin like an angry lion.

Well, there were some things that you had already forgotten about this beautiful, and yes cold, country. Driving down the Laugarvegur on a sunny afternoon, seeing the tourists in their 66 North jackets, ordering a beer and falling down of sickness as soon as the bill came, concerts everywhere, the political discussions, the weird humor and etc and etc. 

But wow how I miss Uganda. I miss you all you guys and hope everything is well. I am very grateful for those who gave their time to read our blog and sincerely hope they thought it interesting, at least at some point. Thank you for your well appreciated support.

As most of you remember, the last 3 weeks we had an adventure! Oh yes, we took our small motorbike and drove through Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. What a fruitful and great experience! 

I will post the travel story here soon, on this blog, but for now I want to scream from the bottom of my lungs:


yours Harps

p.s. check out photos from our Rwanda trip on my facebook:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Burundi & Tanzania

Nu erum vid stodd i Tanzaniu, nykomin fra Burundi.

Skemmst er fra thvi ad segja ad Burundi er stormerkilegt land. Vid eyddum nokkrum dogum i hofudborginni sem liggur vid snjohvita ferskvatnsstrond. Skitt med pakkaferdir til Costa del Sol, Bujumbura er stadurinn!

Vid landamaerin hofdum vid bara fengid leyfi til ad vera i landinu i thrja daga og forum vid thvi til innflytjendayfirvalda til ad fa ad vera lengur og their sogdu okkur bara ad setja inn umsokn og koma svo eftir helgi og fa stimpilinn. Thegar vid svo komum eftir rolega helgi i hofudborginni konnudust their ekkert vid thetta og sogdu ad thad vaeri omogulegt ad fa Visa thann daginn og vid gaetum kannski fengid daginn eftir, takid eftir ordinu kannski. Their aetludu semse ad lata okkur hanga tharna i hofudborginni og bida i von og ovon um ad komast yfirleitt ur landinu!

En Harpa let vitaskuld ekki segja ser slika vitleysu og spurdi "are you forcing us to stay in this country?" Tha leist nu skrifstofublokinni ekkert a islenska skapsmuni og sagdi eg gef ykkur fimm daga og ekkert mal.

Vid forum thvi og skodudum restina af landinu sem er geysifallegt. Thar matti sja uppsprettu Nilarfljotsins, sem var nu bysna fabrotin midad vid Ugandisku uppsprettuna (thaer eru vist fleiri en ein) og svo villtumst vid i einhverju fjalllendi thar sem vegir voru lagdir i 85% thverhniptar fjallshlidar, litlu matti muna ad skellinadran okkar hefdi thad ekki.

I gaer keyrdum vid yfir ein landamaeri og allt breyttist, vid vorum komin til Tanzaniu. I fyrsta lagi thurfti eg ad skipta um vegarhelming, sem tekst naestum aldrei fyllilega fyrr en a thridja degi. Svo ma nefna ad Burundi og Rwanda eru einhver thettbylustu lond i Afriku, pinulitil frimerki stoppud af folki og raektudu landi. En Tanzania er hinsvegar taeplega milljon ferkilometrar og adeins um 36 manns a ferkilometra. Vid keyrum her a rennislettu malbiki halfan daginn an thess ad sja einn einasta bae, einhverjar orfaar hraedur sem gud ma vita hvad eru ad gera a midjum thjodvegi fotggangandi, en svona er vist Afrika.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Sorry for not updating the blog, but we've been busy finishing our stay in Soroti. Long story short: we've said our goodbyes and left our home for the last eight months. All the people we met there will be dearly missed, but we hope someday to go back.

But each end is a new beginning (or something profound in that line) we're now well on our way in our epic journey through east africa. We've driven on our "motorcycle" all the way from Soroti to Kampala and then down to Kabale (still in Uganda) where we spent some time in Lake Bunyoni, which is one of the most beutiful places on earth, or so we thought...

The next day we set for the border of Rwanda. Even though Swedes, Germans, Brits and Americans can stroll through without paying as much as a dime, we had to apply well in advance (which we didn't) and cough up 60 bucks each. After some negotiating the border people were kind enough to let us through, then we had to process endless piles of documents to get our "motorcycle" through. We had even been kind enough to remove all our plastic bags in advance, since they are appearantly illeagal in Rwanda. Everything worked out and we were on our way to the "land of a thousand hills."

Rwanda is truly spectacular, the landscape is without compare... The people seem nice, the roads and infrastructure is extremely organised. Even the boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) are obliged to wear labeled outfits and have to provide the passangers with helmets!

A bit expensive though... We spent some days in Kigali, the capital, but now we are in Kibuye, which is extremely beutifully positioned next to a grand lake.

In contrast with this country's beauty is it's horrific history, which is well documented in the numerous memorials spread out the country. So far we've visited three and seen skulls in the thousands, heards stories that shook us to the bones, and still there are more to go... in fact we are going to visit a memorial as soon as I complete this blog.

Next stop is Burundi!!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gestagangur Pt. 1

Thad hefur verid mikid um gestagang hja okkur ad undanfornu og thvi aerid taekifaeri til ad halda uti einhverjum myndraenum samskiptum vid umheiminn. Vid forum med Sylgju, Palma, Isar, Daliu, Herdisi og Benedikt i messu uti i thorpi.

Thad var sett upp aegilega fin songva og danssyning einungis fyrir okkur.
Kirkjuklukkan i bakgrunni.

I godum felagsskap.

Thad var hatid hja bornum nagranna okkar.

Vid forum i thorpin og tharna ma sja Herdisi kanna geymsluskilyrdi korns i naerliggjandi herudum Soroti.

Vid kitkum i heimsokn til vinar okkar og bornin hopudust vitanlega um okkur, enda faheyrt ad annar eins hopur Mzungua sjaist a thessum slodum.

Vatnid "okkar," Lake Kyoga var omissandi vidkomustadur ad okkar mati. Thangad var tekin med hin dyrindis Betty Crocker sukkuladikaka, sem kom alla leid fra Islandi.Vatnaliljurnar voru i fullum skruda.

Thratt fyrir oflugar motbarur var Herdis tilneydd til ad taka vid einni slikri ad gjof fra raedara okkar.

Benedikt fekk ad bragda a thvi sem her er kallad "the local brew" og var haestaanaegdur med (og heimamennirnir anaegdir med Benedikt.)

Esther samstarfskona okkar var svo hrifin af "Italiu" og Isari ad hun let sauma a lidid thessi samstaedu glaesilegu local fot.

Vid forum med folkid ad kikja a prydi baejarins.

Stulkurnar skemmtu ser vel.

Einnig leyfdum vid gestum okkar ad bragda a spiritualisma baejarins, en hann er alsettur musterum, moskum og kirkjum. Shiva var held eg sattur med okkur.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

News of the World

Apparantely we are living in the poorest district in the whole of Uganda. See news story here.
Fyrir ykkur Islendinga sem erud ad lesa, tha ma til gamans geta ad vidtal vid okkur birtist i Sunnlenska frettabladinu fyrir skemmstu.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gone fishing

The newest addition to the fauna in the house was this lovely scorpion. Apparently they are not that common here in Uganda and this was the first time our collegues had ever seen one. This brings the list to: Scorpion, Mice, Bats, Cats, Hedgehogs, Lizards, Spiders, Rats, Frogs and millions of flies. Who needs a national park when you've got a zoo in the house. Me preparing to get rid of the bats in the attic.

We found some canned Carlsberg on sale in the local supermarket. Either it had expired, Carlsberg is not nearly as good as I thought it was or Turkey makes worse Carlsberg than other countries.

Everything is manual in Uganda, we even have to grind our own meat for the pizza! Thank god Pamela had one.

Pork in Pamba with Lavera (from Texas) and Rosa (from Holland). This would be around the 50th time we've had pork there.

The garden sometimes needs maintainance and of cource there is no chainsaw, only the "slasher."
We decided to go fishing in Lake Kyoga the other day. Which basically means buying some nylon, hooks and bait at the market, tying it to a stick and find some random guy to take us out on the lake.

It was quite beautiful. Even though Lake Kyoga is not nearly as big as Victoria it still looks like an ocean.

In the bait bag we found this freakshow. Apparently it was cought at the exact moment of trying to swallow another fish whole.

Harpa was very patient. The boatman had cought some 6 small fish, while we had nothing!
Finally I cought this bad-boy! For you fishermen reading, the boatman forbid us from letting it go.
Later that day we has a BBQ with some friends. Rosa, Marcy from the East Coast, Eric from Alaska, Lavera and that is our neighbour Alice.

The BBQ Queen!

The fish I cought was quite tasty as you can tell by my expression.

The food was excellent.
The gin and juice was a hit!

The food was a hit!
The icelandic music was a hit!

This funny fellow is called Megas and he (or she I don't really know yet) is the latest addition to the birdlife in our compound. Soon we plan to put up ads for bird-watching tours around the house. Megas is perhaps one of the ugliest creatures found on this planet and also one of the noisiest. We plan to murder him soon.

Megas is quite the troublemaker, firstly he leaves enormous droppings all over our front porch and secondly he likes to drink every basin of soapwater he can find.

While on the field the other day a local witch doctor threw these branches at me and told me it was a beneficial spell. If he hadn't told me he was a witch doctor I'd have thought he was a drunken buffoon looking for hand-outs, but he did tell me he was a witch doctor, so...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The north!

Finally, a vacation for a week! But what to do? Where to go?

We were pretty short on money, like usually, but still wanted to do something exciting, crazy and interesting and, like normally with us guys, something different and off the beaten track. We concluded that there were 3 things we wanted to do the most:
1. Go to the north, and experience the mentality and destruction after the civil war.
2. Go to Karamanjoland in the north east and not get shot!
3. Go to a national park. That was bound to be expensive, but come on, once in Uganda... We therefore decided to go for 1 day to Kidepo Valley, a park far north, which was full of Sudanese and Karamanjong poachers and had just recently re -opened after the civil war.

After we had settled on the route, we soon found out it was easier to decide what we wanted to do than to actually be able to do it!! How should we get there? Should we go by bike? Rent a car? Go by public transport? Where could we get accommodation? Should we bring the tent?

We met a lot of barriers. Some people told us that the north was depressing, bitter and unfriendly and you would not be welcomed as a tourist. Others told us that former rebels, or bandits, were still roaming around the roads. The authorities told us that the roads in Karamanjong were not safe at all, and you would definitely get shot using private transport. Others told us that the Karamanjongs were shameless warriors, walking around naked, waving their guns in your face. Still others told us that there was no food or accommodation to be found in the far north, so you would have to bring food and a tent and camp in the park, which was apparently the only safe place in the north!

After all these helpful tips, we still decided to go, left the tent but packed some warm clothes, a pot, some food, a flashlight, a soap, raincoats and Vignirs Swiss army knife for protection and went off!

We finalised some details at work and hopped on the only bus going to Gulu, some 250 km north-west of Soroti. The bus ride annoyed us pretty much because we had to stand the entire way! Well, we would never had complained if we would have known what was waiting us...
Once in Gulu, some 7 hours later, tired, hungry and thirsty, we found cheap accommodation, an Indian restaurant and a bar and even met some former student of ours from Lalle Primary School! We were happy and didn't mind the inhospitality of the north or rebels or the LRA or anything, all we needed was a chair and a cold beer.

We found a Western bakery in Gulu (!) and bought everything there we could carry! (croissants, cinnamon rolls, sugared doughnuts etc.) Mmmm.... How delicious...after that we continued the trip to Kitgum with a matatu (shared taxi-van). The matatu was crammed like usually, around 25 people in the van (with around 9 seats.) We arrived in Kitgum in the afternoon, walked around for a while, got some bad pork, found some limited supplies for things to come. After that there was nothing to do but have some beers, but at the lodge we confirmed the word on the street regarding the hostile northerners, for we were forced to move outside because of some rude locals. Well, we didn't allow that to spoil our good spirit!

We woke up early and went through our supplies once more, since Kitgum would be our last possible supply stop. We added some spaghetti and tomatpaste, along with some muffins and more crackers. After that we started looking for transport to Karenga, some 20 km from Kidepo park. We soon found out that even though Karenga only lay 110 km from Kitgum, the ride there would take a while.
Finally we found a pick up truck which was leaving "now". After "now" had lasted till noon we got a little anxious. In addition the vehicle was in very poor condition and had a busted tire, which later on would trouble us along the way. We decided that we would not leave with the truck later than 2 or we would risk not arriving before dark.
At 1 pm the pick up truck went off with us onboard. After 500 meters it stopped to load some additional illegal cargo and that procedure continued for some 20 km. At 4 pm we had not gone 1/4 of the way, and the road ahead was even worse. At nightfall we reached a small village and went off the truck. After discussing with the passengers and the drivers for an hour, we decided it was better to continue with the truck, than to maybe be stranded in some village in the middle of nowhere. We also decided to try to find some accommodation in Karenga, the village near to Kidepo, since we could forget about reaching the park this late.
After an interesting and dirty 8 more hours ride, us having to push the car several times, walking up hills carrying babies, sitting on the local brew jerrycans and stinking of alcohol with no food in our stomachs, we reached Karenga at 3 in the morning. Everything was pitch black, no people and no lodges, but luckily we met 2 policemen who took us to the police station where we lay down on the rock floor with one blanket and slept like babies till morning.

We woke up early and tried to find a ride to the park. The police was of much help and sent someone to get the only vehicle in town. It was the village ambulance. We paid the fuel and set off, still tired after the 14 hour drive from Kitgum, and still stinking of alcohol. We booked a banda (a thatched hut) in the park, took a bath, washed our clothes and cooked the most delicious packed noodle soup ever! We also met the neighbor, BulBul the alcoholic elephant, which liked us a lot, since he is very fond of the local brew and we greeted him stinking of it!
After a great nap we took a game drive in the park with Richard, a park ranger. We saw elephants, zebras, buffalos, many types of antilopes and birds. Richard also told us stories of poaching, which was still quite common in the park. He carried a machine gun and told us that last month he had caught 2 poachers from Sudan, meaning he shot and killed both of them. After the game drive we cooked some spaghetti and ate surrounded by BulBul, buffalos, jackals but no other human being, us being the only visitors in the UWA hostel that day.

In the morning we went for a nature walk, or more a construction walk, where we went to look at the remains of an Idi Amin structure in the mountains in the park. Amin had started the construction of a luxury hotel with more than 300 rooms, but he was overthrown before he could finish it. The building was remarkable, the rooms were somehow built into the rock, the bricks made from rock, the scenery spectacular, the architecture amazing! We were stunned!
After this remarkable experience we left the park back to Karenga to get a pick up to Kabong. We found a truck which only went half the way, or to Kapera. On that route, for about only 30 km, we noticed the climate and the people changing. We were now officially in Karamajoland! The land was a semi desert, no gardens, no market places, no casava bags or sweet potato bags on the side of the road. Only cattle, cattle and more cattle, and yes, some soldiers keeping the cattle. We also noticed the Karamajong beautiful beads and traditional clothing, which everybody wears there on daily basis. It also surprised us to see that their tradition is to cut their faces from an early age, some cuts being even real deep.
When we came to Kapera we had a soda and some crackers, but nothing else was found to eat. It was a karamajong village so they only had cow blood porridge! Yuk! We were getting pretty hungry for real cooked food and begged the driver to continue to Kabong, another nearby village which had a restaurant with normal food! He finally agreed and we hopped on the pick up truck. In Kabong we were lucky enough to find another pick up truck even going further into Karamajoland! We stopped in Kotido where we found a good restaurant with local food and a good cheap accommodation.

We went to Moroto at 6 in the morning, some 100 km south from Kotido. The poverty and deserted land on the way was devastating, and in Moroto as well. We met the LC1 (local government official) of a neighbouring village which took us around and allowed us to take photos of the extraordinary karamanjong! We came across a lot of beggers and were quite surprised of the food shortage and poverty. We bought some local beads and clothing from the locals, with help from the LC1, and therefore made the day for at least 3 families that afternoon.
After a “sightseeing day” of the karamajong, we sat down, had a cold beer (finally) and laughed about the stories of the naked guncrazy karamajongs. Yes, they were some naked under their quilt, and yes, some of them carried guns and had no respect for human life, but even though these are not the friendliest people ever in uganda we soon saw that there was no reason to fear them and drank beer with a smile on our faces throughout the evening.

We headed home, to our small cute grotty Soroti. We talked about what to do when we came home, take a shower for the first time for a week, have a samosa, drink some cold coke and watch seinfield. Even though we really looked forward of going home, we couldn't get rid of the excitement the thought gave us: "we had just been in the north!!!"