09 October 2009

The rain in Uganda falls mainly not on the plain

I haven't written much about the weather on this trip, mainly because we haven't had much of any note. It's sunny, warm, with blue skies. There were a few cold nights in the South, where it was winter when we left, and in Namibia we had night frost one time, but otherwise we have not noticed the weather.


This changed when we reached Uganda. The region is in the small rainy season right now, and while Kenya is suffering from a horrible drought, Uganda has rain almost every day. This meant that for days, while we were camping out at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, we had wet feet, wet socks, wet shoes. When it rained it was not a shower or a drizzle or even a proper cloudburst, but a torrential downpour lasting hours without letup, fat drops banging on the tent roof where we took refuge to watch a movie. The water washed down the paths and cascaded over steps, collected in small lakes on every level surface and dripped from reed roofs and leaking drainpipes.


It makes the rainforest the dense green mess that it is, of course, impenetrable indeed, but it made me miserable after a few days. Nothing was drying, and at one point we lost the awning (which we use as an ancillary tent in bad weather). The weight of the water that collected during one deluge was so heavy it bent the 1 cm square welded aluminium strut that holds the awning horizontal (it has since been fixed).


It is amazing to me that the subsistence farmers who live around Bwindi handle these torrents of water so well. They live in small huts with reed roofs, no windows or doors, walk along stony paths and have no real means of drying anything should it get wet. It's like permanent camping. This water is good for the forest, and the banana fields, but it can't be all that healthy for humans.


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