To Agoro in the north of Uganda, to visit a fellow volunteer placed in a remote vocational training college. He wants to open the area up for tourism (currently Agoro is not mentioned in Bradt, the major guide to Uganda); we are here to act as guinea pigs. We inaugurated his bread oven by making pizzas, the first to be cooked here we reckoned,
and began to find walking trails for mad westerners who want to walk! Locals fell about laughing when they saw us choosing to go ‘footing’ as they call it.
Agoro is a beautiful place, ringed by the mountains of the South Sudan border, but it was hit hard by the LRA as they made their way to and from their Sudanese hideouts.
So far the only effects of the current South Sudanese troubles on Agoro have been an increase in cattle rustling. The new refugees come through the border at Nimule to the west and are moved to existing camps, for many these are the camps they only left recently to go back to their newly formed country.
Proper mountain climbing here is serious stuff, demanding armed guards and sustained planning. We blazed an easier trail along a lower ridge that rises above the local trading centre.
It was gorgeous walking country that, unlike anywhere else, had evidence of past stone structures; the sorts of hut bases and circles we have visited in cold wet Cornwall for example.
It was impossible to tell the age of these features, recent or very old there was no way of knowing. Though the game scooped out of the rock we found at the far end of the ridge had to be old.
The same game is still played on the streets now, and I even remember seeing a version of it carved into a pavement in the Roman Forum.
The old vegetation is being burnt back everywhere to allow new grass to grow.
The burning is not controlled, alarming when you are sleeping in a nylon tent.
The local children love this time of year because they catch rats forced out by the flames.
These three boys came to show us their catch, 30 rats produced from the pockets of their shorts.
They begged a match and firewood to cook them.
As our volunteer in Agoro said, this was probably the only meat they would get for a long time. But will roast rat entice western tourists?