Twenty-one people, two chickens, and The Hairy Lemon

Two weekends ago I went to a land of peacefulness that took an adventure to get to and from. Willem, Michiel, Tomas (a Norwegian medical student), and I met in the Wandegeya neighborhood to get there.
The guys on the short of the island

The guys on a shore of the island

We took boda bodas from our apartment and then the torrential downpour started. All said and done, it took the 4 of us 1 hour to get to the taxi park that usually takes 20 minutes to get to because of the downpour and streets. But we made it thoroughly soaked. After disembarking from the first matatu near Jinja, we boarded the adventure mobile matatu to Nazigo. Oh yes. Matatus normally seat 14 people. Our conductor managed to cram 21 people into 14 spots. And, then there were the two chickens in a lady’s purse. What’s an overcrowded matatu without speeding fast while I ponder the Russian roulette being played with our lives?

Well we made it Nazigo and argued a bit when the conductor tried to charge us slightly more than double the price. After getting through the normal verbal football of negotiating transportation prices, the four of us went by boda bodas (2 grown men behind each motorcycle driver = CRAMMED part two) for about 15 minutes to the Victoria Nile River. A canoe came and picked us up and rowed us to The Hairy Lemon island in the middle of the Nile River ( What a peaceful, wonderful place, and including transportation a weekend trip cost about only $40 USD.

Owned by Irish expats Erin and Rob, it’s a very cozy, no frills camping/banda island with wonderful food and common areas to read, relax, and socialize.
Michiel reading in the dining area

Michiel reading in the dining area

Everyone speaks quietly there and best of all the Nile here is safe to swim in, which is uncommon in other water sources here for risk of the etiological agent of schistosomiasis, a brutish disease. The rapids were quite peaceful, ebbing and flowing around the small island. We all swam, soaked up some sun, and read, read, read. We stayed in a 10 bunkbed dormitory at night and met other expats relaxing from the big city or elsewhere. Saturday night I taught the 3 guys how to play euchre — they learned quickly making it all the more fun to play.

Nile diversion

Nile diversion

Falling asleep to the gentle roar of the Nile rapids provided an idyllic background for drifting to sleep.

Some Victoria Nile rapids

Some Victoria Nile rapids

We read in the morning and swam before leaving.
Tomas leisurely reading

Tomas leisurely reading

The trip back was about as crazy (sans chickens), but the 24 hours on the island were well worth it. I hope to go back next month with at least Chris and Sarah. The desire to relieve the tensions from being in the hectic city comes quickly here, all the more reason to go whenever I can.

Sunrise on a Nile diversion

Sunrise on a Nile diversion


3 Responses to “Twenty-one people, two chickens, and The Hairy Lemon”

  1. Mark Says:

    Erin & Rob are Aussies…..The island is named after an Irish pub…..Ahhhh for an ice cold Club Pilsener……

  2. Carole Cameron Says:

    Just to say that Erin and Rob are Aussies born and bred. Erin is my husbands cousin.

  3. judy buick Says:

    Hi Guys – just found your web contribution.!

    The guys are still up on ‘The Island’ and loving it……:

    We have been there several times and it is beautiful. About 2 acres in total and offering all sorts of accommodation + a brilliant climate…

    They came home from Africa for a short holiday a year or so ago so their boys could begin to experience life at school with kids who live in a ‘real’ life school’ environment…..

    Austin loved it because there were sports like soccer which he had not seen before

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