In all my days, I had never envisioned myself on a rickety over-loaded locally-made boat out in the middle of Lake Victoria miles from my beloved terra firma. But then again, neither had I envisioned myself getting an invitation from a friend to spend a week at her home in Buyovu Island, the third largest among the 84 island collective that make up the Ssese islands in Uganda.
For four hours we travelled, boat-engine drone providing for background music. A few miles in, my inhibitions gave way and I soon came to enjoy the buoying and swaying of the old boat. I figured if I was to perish, I might as well make some good memories to accompany me into the afterlife.
Seruwaji, the seasoned Seaman (or Lakeman?) and captain (for lack of a better word) navigated his way without need for compass or GPS. He actually seemed nonchalant about the entire trip, probably a daily occurrence for him. As luck would have it, it was a smooth enjoyable experience for me with perfect weather andan animated host giving me the 411 about everything I saw until we reached our destination.
With perfect 24°C weather and a waterfront all to myself, I let out my inner child and took to the lake. I swam the butterfly and the octopus and the dolphin and a few more strokes I am yet to patent. My host on the other hand called my swimming skills dog-paddling at best as I stayed rooted in the same spot even as my imagination took over.
A flock of exotic wild ducks, dappled brown, black and creampatrolled the waterfront in my absence. Their presence adds to the allure of the island along with a myriad of other bird species I had never before seen anywhere. I was especially enamoured byan elegant tiny brown bird that had a very long white tail, almost twice the bird’s length. Not far behind in my favourites was the red-tailed parrots that sung a most exotic tune high up in the island’s softwood trees. A couple of wagtails were actually semi-tame and always hang around my host’s home.
A chatter of black-faced grey monkeys periodically left their forest habitat to forage for food in gardens leaving a trail of destruction. They especially loved the cassava and pineapples growing abundantly in the rich virgin soils. What fascinated me most when I first saw them was the fact that they had bright blue privates. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?
With the saying that beauty is fleeting, I was glad I got to see the beauty of Buyovu Island when I still could. As is a trend with man, soon there won’t be any trees with the rate of charcoal burning and the land will all be tilled and the fish depleted in the lake. It will be a paradise lost.It goes without saying what will happen to the spectacular wildlife.