We had a busy day at Sipi Falls, in the north of Uganda. A friendly guide, Alex, took us in the morning for a walking tour of the falls. While the falls were quite lovely, frankly, after Victoria and Murchison Falls, we were getting hard to impress. Sam was also playing up. I had forgotten to give him his ADHD medication, which was the third time in the trip. Given I am such a muddle-headed wombat, I thought 3 misses was pretty good going. Fifteen minutes into the walk it became evident as he bounced and bubbled along, wired to the max, shooting the small children who greeted us with his finger. He wouldn’t stop talking about ‘Malawi children’. The walking tour was becoming a battle.
‘Sam, stop talking about the children!’
‘But they are clones, they are bald clones.’
‘You’ve already said that five times, you don’t need to keep saying it.’
Two minutes later.
‘I don’t like the children.’
This obsession had been growing ever since he had been chased around the pre-school on Likomo Island on Lake Malawi. It was now in full flower. Their baldness, their eagerness to engage with Sam to the point of annoying him, the fact he felt they all looked similar; these aspects were being discussed incessantly and obsessively. We cut the tour short and headed for the hostel, where I quickly gave him his medicine.
A few hours later we were on to our second activity of the day, a tour of a local coffee farm to see how coffee is made. The farm was a subsistence farm but also had coffee and banana as cash crops, usually being sold into South Sudan.
The difference the medication made was stark; Sam was much easier to handle and also much more capable of getting something out of the experience. Alex showed us the plants where the beans were ripening, and then took us through the process of shucking, drying, pounding off the second shell, roasting, grinding using a large wooden mortar and pestle, right through to brewing, pouring and tasting. Sam and I had hands-on experience doing it all; it was a great education for Sam (and me).
After my morning, I needed the coffee, too.
Sam, once again, was the centre of attention and was surrounded by small children. The largest of these, two fourteen-year-old boys, looked tough enough to be touting AK47s if they’d lived in other parts of Africa, but would have been half of Sam’s weight. Sam moved around the farm as we did the coffee thing, with a circle of children following him, his tolerance now much greater. Gulliver surrounded by the Lilliputians.