Grasshopper Revenge, as a Dalmatian Digs Wells in Uganda

By 9 December 2021

December 9, 2021 - As one Dalmatian breaks ground digging a well in a remote Ugandan village, another conquers her fear of grasshoppers in style. 

True love can be intoxicating.

And dangerous.  


It can make you follow your new love blindly, without any thought of the consequences. 

And, to be perfectly honest, I was a little bit concerned about what would happen to young Matea after meeting her for just 5 minutes. 


Matea is a beautiful and very nice young lady from Imotski, who I met at the recent incredible charity dinner for Uganda organised by Michelin superstars Bruno Vokal and Mario Mandaric.  

Matea was the host of the evening, helping our new boyfriend chef Mario to run the evening, which was raising money to dig wells in rural Uganda.  


Mario held three such dinners and raised a sizable sum to fund the digging of the wells. He invited Matea to join him on a 2-month adventure in the Pearl of Africa. 

Without a second thought, she agreed to follow her new dečko.  

But there was only one problem. Young Matea was a game girl, but she had one huge phobia. Grasshoppers. 

And Uganda was entering the peak grasshopper season. 


Mario is known as a very resourceful chef, who made his name on a campaign against food waste in restaurants. He decided to help Matea overcome her fear before departure by introducing her to an African grasshopper he managed to meet in Zagreb called Flipper.  

Matea bravely confronted her biggest fear, and allowed the moment to be recorded.  

Holding Flipper was a huge psychological barrier that she crossed successfully. But how would she cope in Africa?


I lived in Africa in 1994 (Rwanda) and Kenya and Somalia (2002). it is a continent that often brings out the very best in people. But how would young Matea cope? 


Rather well, it seems. The ultimate grasshopper revenge - lunch.  

Fast food, Ugandan style.  


She lost no time getting immersed in the local community, where the kids had never seen a white person before. Or nails quite like that.  


And so to work. A true Dalmatian is never far from his motika, and young Mario was soon breaking ground for the well for the village.  

Many of the kids do not have fathers, as they have drowned in a nearby swamp, where villagers are currently taking water. 

The villagers were waiting for their Croatian guests, and they welcomed them with a traditional dance and song, which had the refrain 'We don't have water, you'll give us water.' 


Africans are famously great dancers, but they were pretty impressed by the Imotski Shuffle.  


Locals believe that it is good luck for a child if a white person holds the baby. I am not sure I would entrust a baby to the arms of Mario, but each to his own.  


The wells are dug to a depth of 5 metres. After that, the drilling starts, down another 5-10 metres. Once they hit water, construction begins.  


Ugandan village fashion.  

Progress on the well construction has been swift, and all should be finished in another 10 days or so. There are two wells being financed by Mario's charity dinners, and he is 1,100 euro short of enough money to fund a third.  If you would like to donate, you can contact Water Help Uganda directly, or Mario Mandaric via Instagram.


The couple will soon be heading off to Zanzibar to prepare another luxury charity dinner to raise funds for the project. They have been invited by Toni Raguz, a Croatian owner of 4 hotels on the beach that were put on the list of the 20 best beachside hotels in the world.


As for Matea, having conquered her fear of grasshoppers, it seems there is no stopping her now. 

"Matea, this is the River Nile, and there are crocodiles. Are you sure you want to do this?"

Mario and Matea will be returning to Zagreb in January, when Mario will start a rather cool new gourmet project - read more in Local Knowledge with a Foreign Eye: When Gourmet Visions Collide.