made it into another country after another painless border crossing. I hope that
from now on they are all that easy. We set the alarm for 5:30am this morning but
it was pitch dark so we lay in for another 20min or so. It was a quick get up
and go. Very sad moment – our milk was not only sour it was even lumpy so we
ended up going with the powdered variety. We were on the road by 6:30am and
ready for the long drive. It wasn’t nearly as bad as expected – we hit the
border at 11ish and spent maybe 40min there in total. It was great. The only
thing was the number of ‘friends’ and ‘helpers’. Jeez, as if you can’t
do this by yourself they are all there to help you through. At the end a fee is
expected of course. We made it very, very clear that we weren’t handing over
any money. It didn’t stop them from trying of course!
is a clear difference between Kenya and Uganda – Uganda has worse roads! The
kids also wear school uniforms in bright, basic colours so you see a group of
them – the girls in bright yellow, pink or blue and the boys in matching
shirts. It’s really nice to see.
is a sleepy little town on the edge of Lake Victoria but it looks quite nice. We
found the backpackers which is run by South Africans and arranged to go out with
them tomorrow. We decided not to stay at the lodge in town but rather at the
campsite near the waterfall. Good decision. The views are stunning, we are right
near the water’s edge but about 50m up so it is really nice. The ride tomorrow
is with other South Africans – expats with the embassy and various companies.
They are also camping having come up from Kampala for the weekend. What a life
– we even ate salmon off the braai last night. Not what I expected.
feel like I am back at home in my childhood. A weekend that we went away with
the Mullers come to mind. It was fun though. Also, we were offered accommodation
in Kampala, an offer I hope stands up in the light of day. This is largely
because she mentioned a washing machine and the idea of really clean clothes is
immensely appealing. Hand washing in cold water is far from ideal.
than bad roads, Uganda has a similar colonial feel to Kenya. More so because the
medium of education is English so everyone speaks English, not only to us, but
among themselves too. I have not seen signs in anything but English either.
met a local schoolteacher who is also an artist. He paints on cloth and is very
good. It is the first decent stuff we have seen so we bought two big paintings
(approx. 40x70cm) and one little one (about 4x6cm) for our various galleries. I
would have liked to buy more but decided not to go overboard. He was a nice guy
so we chatted for maybe ½ hour. Then we went off to make dinner to get finished
before dark like we always do only to be asked to be joined by the others with
apologies for intruding on us. I felt bad but am so used to living rough and
alone that joining in uninvited was unthinkable. Anyway we chatted along and got
to taste their great food – salmon steaks, peri-peri chicken wings, ribbetjie
and the best braaied fillet I have ever tasted. I don’t like it normally but
they did a great job. For the first time I met braaiers who compete with my
father and that’s saying a lot!
we raft the Nile. I am excited an a little nervous, I’ve never done this
before so I hope it all goes well. Will know soon..
a lucky break, we are staying in a flatlet attached to someone's house! It is a
couple from SA and Zim – Margarethe and Cecil – that we met in Jinja. We
have pulled in and taken over, what a luxury.
about the rafting – it was really good fun but I somehow expected more.
was kind of 30seconds of heart-stopping excitement followed by 30minutes of
casual cruising. I expected more heart-stopping excitement. We did have a good
time however. It is close to a full day affair. They pick you up at 9:30am to
take you to the river. We finished at maybe 4-4:30pm and then had a really nice
braai and salad meal ending up back at the campsite at around 6pm. I was
exhausted with bright red legs but feeling good otherwise. That was basically it
for Saturday, we ate a packet of Pringles chips for supper and were in bed
was a do nothing day for us. We had originally planned to leave quite early for
Kampala because we like to arrive early if we still need to look for a place to
stay. However, with us already having a place to stay we decided to follow our
hosts home and since they only planned to leave at around 4pm so did we. In the
morning we went into town to watch the video of our rafting, which we bought,
and then went off to see the source of the Nile. It is not a huge thing but
considering our long relationship with the river, it seemed appropriate. It is
still not over because we will be heading North to Murchison’s falls and more
of the Nile.
that we joined our new friends for a potjiekos lunch and it was incredible!
followed Cecil and Margarethe back to there place and arrived at about 5:30pm.
We got ourselves settled in while they had to go out to yet another braai
-–tough life here in Uganda. While they were out we had sausage and mash for
supper and did the first of many loads of washing.
was a day of feet finding in Kampala. We found where both Cecil and Margarethe
worked, spoke to the Landrover guy, did our first bit if shopping to replenish
stocks and had an awesome lunch. After a siesta we emptied the car out, cleaned
it out and sorted boxes. We had a great supper and evening’s chat with our
morning Scott took the car to the garage while I did a long, long email session.
The internet connection here is our best yet so I took the opportunity to go
through and clear our entire Inbox as well as writing a long update. We still
have some credits at the shop so we will go back to do some co-ords for Rick.
After that I went to Farmer’s Choice (where Margs works) and had some Muffins
(truly) and then off to do some more shopping for cereal and stuff. We are
buying a crate of long life milks (500ml cartons) so we can have lots and lots
of cereal for breakfast. I have walked around a bit, there is lots to see, and
waited for Scott to finish so that we could go off to Entebbe. It’s a small
world – Robert’s friends there, Paul and Jane and also friends of Cecil and
Margs. We went over to speak to Paul about options for our time in Uganda. The
Bwindi Gorilla tracking is 250USD per person!!!!
is a huge outlay and since Mgahinga is “only” 175USD per person, Paul
recommended that we take that option. Saving 150USD is pretty significant so
that’s what we’ll do. What with the ferry only leaving once a week we are
going to spend a lot of time here in Uganda – we won’t leave next Monday but
rather the one after. We leave Kampala tomorrow and head North to Murchison’s
Falls. We’ll do a 9-10 day loop around the country finishing here late next
really good thing about Uganda is that we are using Marg’s mobile so we have
been phoned by mom (twice), Scott’s folks and Rob and Silv. What a bonus.
Well, that’s it – off to bed to prepare for tomorrow by getting a good
nights sleep. One thing about staying here is that we are going to bed much
later than usual and also not getting much opportunity to keep our diaries
updated. Oh well, tomorrow we’ll be on the road again, with clean and ironed
are sitting here a couple of metres away from the Nile, which is rushing past us
to Murchison falls, a short way downstream. I can also watch hippos swimming not
too far away. This morning we packed up the car leaving some stuff behind at
Margs and Cecil’s place. Bad idea, we have already discovered that we brought
no basin of any kind to wash in. I could manage a couple of days of this but not
8 or 9 so we’ll have to buy a bucket or something when we leave the park. We
did a little shopping – samoosas, chicken sosaties and sweet potatoes. The
samoosas are already gone but we have arranged firewood and will braai the rest
left Kampala at about 10am and were here at the falls before 4pm. The roads are
pretty good even the approx. 120km on dirt. Really no problems. The cost was a
problem – we spent nearly 100USD (96 to be exact) to get into the park for two
days. We had to pay in local currency so apart from it being terribly expensive
we are stuck with almost no local money. We ended up having to pay the camping
fee (14USD) in US dollars. Tomorrow we want to do a boat cruise to the foot of
the falls but it depends on who else wants to go. If there are less than 10
people you have to pay the entire 100USD yourself. More than 10 and it sets you
back 10USD each. I hate being obsessive about money but today was a bit of a
shock – we can’t spend too many days in National parks at these prices.
campsite is great however. Apart from a pit latrine it has zero facilities but
because of this and probably because it needs your own vehicle and 4WD at that
to get here it also has zero people. We have this wonderful spot to share with
crocs, hippos and birds and seeing as we are now the proud owners of our very
own East Africa bird book we can even take a stab at identifying them.
decided to get the book because we are really seeing lots and lots of wonderful
birds and it would be nice to know some of their names. Oh yes, we are also
sharing the camp with tsetse fly – this time not so nice but I guess you
can’t have everything!
had two phone calls yesterday – Mom and Robin. Sounds like mom has got all our
postcards, even the ones we got from Sudan. Robin is being kept busy by all
sorts of strangers asking him where we are and how we are doing. Sounds like
he’s having fun with it all though.
was a fairly active day for us, well morning to be more exact. After a breakfast
of cereal and milk (oh boy) we went for a walk downstream of the falls. We
walked for 2½ - 3 hours and saw some wonderful views. I was hoping to see
hippos and crocs but apart from some quick glimpses of hippo across on the far
side of the river we had no luck. It was really, really hard work though. Lots
and lots of ups and downs but more than that, just very hot and humid. It is our
first real experience of humidity on the trip and it showed, we were dripping
sweat and were totally exhausted. We had a picnic lunch at a spot at the top of
the falls before heading off to one of the luxury lodges in the park to find out
about changing money. This they did and while we were there I took the
opportunity to use their toilets. This is an opportunity not to be missed! In
Luxor we used the 5-star Meridien in this way. It is a sad truth that a European
in Africa can walk in anywhere without being questioned or challenged. This does
not, of course, apply to locals.
this we headed off for our boat cruise. We were a full complement so had to pay
10USD each. I have to say that it was money well spent. There was a guide with
us George, who saw us with our new bird book so took pains to point out lots and
lots of birds which was great. In addition to this we saw heaps and heaps of
hippo. Literally. They were walking over each other and standing 10 deep in
places. We also saw a little one that George estimated to be about 5 days old.
We also saw quite a few crocs – some huge ones too.
the water we saw warthog (whoopee!), giraffe, water buck, bushbuck, colobus and
vervet monkey, a troop of buffalo plus some rogues and even an elephant! Not a
bad day in all. We won’t do any game drives here, we never planned to but from
what I hear we have already seen pretty much what we would on a game drive. On
the way home to round it all off we saw a troop of baboons.
that is pretty much it for Murchison. We got to our camp site, still ours alone,
at around 5:30pm and, for the FIRST time on our trip, we used our portable solar
shower. We just collected water from the river but what a great shower it was,
especially after the hot, sticky morning we had. Then I made supper – we had
bought pasta and sauce in Kampala but ended up having to use 2 packets for us.
Each packet is supposed to serve two – fat chance.
South to Fort Portal and hopefully some chimp trekking.
while not totally uneventful was largely given over to driving the 300-odd km
from Murchison to Fort Portal. It started raining as we were packing up so that
made sure that we got away quickly and cleanly! We were on the road by 8:30am.
We decided to take the most direct route, heading South near Lake Albert. The
roads in the park are excellent which kind of lulled us into a false sense of
security. Upon leaving the park, things changed pretty rapidly and it got very
dry with very sandy roads. I was driving and got a little nervous about getting
stuck. It was amazing how quickly it got dry though. We climbed up an
escarpment, which gave us pretty good views of Lake Albert.
drive to Hoima from there was pretty uneventful as far as Ugandan driving goes,
which means that fortunately you don’t see many other vehicles because every
one that you do see nearly takes you out, a far more nerve-wracking experience
for the passenger than the driver! I nearly wet myself a few times while Scott
was driving but I noticed that once he had had a few scary experiences as the
passenger he followed far more stringent evasive tactics!
road from Hoima to Fort Portal varied from quite terrible to very good, wide
gravel to excellent tarmac about 50km out of town.
first order of the day upon our arrival at 3:45pm was to sort out our Forex.
This we did, also at 1300 US to the dollar so pretty crap rates here in the
sticks in general (1450 in Kampala). This done we could take a breath and look
around us. I have to say that the books are right and Fort Portal, or Port
Fortal as Scott calls it, is a very pretty little town. It is set in the heart
of huge tea plantations, in sight of the Ruwenzori mountains. Not bad at all!
Once again there are many, many signs of colonial splendour in decay.
this we drove the extra 20km to the Kibale Nature Reserve to book chimp tracking
and to find camping. The tracking booked we went off to CVK Camp Site as per
Robert’s recommendation. He said that it was the best around and I am sure
that he’s right but there was a Dutch company's Overland Truck there (not all
the way from Holland, just Dutch) with about 20 army green tents set up with
military precision. We left!
beat a hasty retreat and went looking for something less busy. We ended up at
Mwenga (who knows??) camp site. It had a stunning setting, right on a crater
lake with views of lush forest and tea plantations. All very Wow!
camp site is part of a community project, which means that people from the
village can earn money from you by providing food, drinks, music and other
entertainment. In return, in addition to the money, you provide entertainment
for the kids who watch you pitch your tent etc. Actually it was very nice – a
stunning setting, friendly people and, once you had been seen and greeted by
all, very private too.
took the opportunity to try the local food- mashed Matoke. This is the plantain
– peeled, cooked and mashed. Before cooking,
it looks like a green banana and later, tastes like a sweet potato with
all the flavour removed – bland and stodgy but with the idea that you should
be adding sugar. The locals eat it with a sauce, often peanut. We tried it with
mushroom sauce, piccalilli and vinegar, all with varying degrees of success.
Needless to say, we didn’t’ eat much. Not that it was horrible just that it
wasn’t exactly nice either. Oh well, we tried it.
morning we were up at 6:30am in order to have plenty of time to get to the
starting point of the walk 10km away. As it is, we got there at about 7:45 with
the walk due to start at 8am. We only started at 8:30 but even though the last
tourist only arrived at 8:20, the delay wasn’t due to them, the guy who took
our money was the last to arrive! Anyway, we set off, 1 guide, 5 tourists and 1
student guide (a woman). The walk was good fun and we did see chimps a mother
and baby, but it was not quite what I expected. Firstly, because we were in a
tropical rainforest, I expected the TV, movie and book depictions of Amazon
jungle – hot, sticky, muddy with leeches snakes and spiders everywhere. Wrong!
Think more along the lines of the Knysna forests in SA. Also, I was ready not to
see chimps but I did expect to see other monkeys, at least colobus and vervet, I
mean you generally see them everywhere. We did not see them at all but as I said
earlier, we did see chimps. They were up in a tree that we were standing next
to. The trees are tall, very, very tall so we really only saw glimpses of them.
After about 15min they came down to ground level, this part was fun, she even
swung down on vines and then instantly disappeared.
was a fun walk though, we saw tons of butterflies, heard lots and lots of birds
and other jungle sounds and saw plenty of elephant dung and prints.
were done around noon and had already decided yesterday to head into town and to
look for a campsite with a shower. The advertised place was a dump – not
reachable by car and definitely without shower so we splashed out and went for a
lodge – Ruwenzori View Lodge. What a nice place. We had a shower (hot) as soon
as we arrived, went into town for lunch, came back here for a read and a siesta
and are now sitting on our own little balcony drinking Castle Lager (Scott is
anyway) and writing our diaries. We could see the Mountains of the Moon when we
arrived but they are now being rained on (lots of thunder and lightening) so our
view is of a gently sloping lawn down to a river with forests, banana and sugar
cane plantations on the far hill. We can hear birds and wait for it, cows –
lots of them. I can even hear pails clanking so I assume that its milking time.
After 3 nights of camping with zero facilities this is a nice change,
particularly as they are cooking us a vegetarian supper and even providing
breakfast in the morning. We hope to get as far as Kisoro by 5pm tomorrow to
check gorilla tracking possibilities. This is a long
way to go so is very dependent on the roads.
and I have just had a discussion during which I told him not to drink any more
beer. Since arriving in Ethiopia he has been complaining about the beer. First
it wasn’t nice, then it was too much (500ml bottles), now it is OK (Castle
Lager) but still too much (500ml bottle) so I told him to stop drinking the
stuff. Apparently the Zambezi beer they have in Zim is very nice so he can start
bad news. A big overland truck booked the gorilla tracking for Sunday and Monday
(today is Sunday) and then yesterday, another one pitched up and booked Tue, Wed and Thur, effectively
killing our chances of getting in. Damn, damn, damn. To make it worse, last week
was empty every day with not one visitor. Oh well, it was our fault, we took the
chance and now we have to pay for it. Tomorrow we will try to radio and see what
our chances are like in Bwindi and if we have no luck there, we’ll have to
give it up. Shit.
the drive down was good. After an excellent breakfast,
we left the lodge and were on the road by 8am. By the way, the vegetarian
supper they made us last night was excellent too. We hit Kabale at about
lunchtime and found a great bakery to buy lunch. We were going to change 400USD
in order to pay for the chimp tracking but at 1200, the rate was appalling so we
decided to skip it. Good thing we did otherwise we might have been sitting with
400USD in shillings, which we couldn’t spend.
70-odd km from Kabale to Kisoro was pretty terrible. The road was dirt and badly
potholed. Interesting because I have driven tarred potholed roads, very rough
dirt, rocky dirt, corrugated dirt and dust and sand but never potholed dirt.
Later the potholes improved but then we hit really fine dust that got in
absolutely everywhere. Towards the end we hit volcanic rock so all in all it was
a fun drive, especially with the bad news at the end.
Kisoro we drove the 12km to the park and the community campsite at the gate.
There was a German truck with about 14 people parked there. It was raining so we
decided to take a Banda rather than pitch a tent. It is also very cold but at an
altitude of 2500m that is hardly surprising.
campsite is run by a guy called Sheeba and he really is trying hard to make a
difference in his community. He believes (quite rightly I think) that if you
want local people to support the
park they must derive some benefit from it. What he does is every weekend, he
brings up a bunch of schoolboys to stay with him at the camp site. They learn
all sorts of stuff – songs, traditional poems, conservation etc. We were
treated to some songs including their school song, which impressed us so much,
that we asked them to write it down for us. It was really fun.
that we had dinner with Sheeba – potato and bean stew which considering the
name was surprisingly good, Excellent in fact. We discussed some if his ideas
and vision and he really has a vision to change the way his people view tourism
and conservation. In fact, he was in Australia a while back to address a
conference about community tourism. Obviously a leader in the field!
National Park and another community camp site. After a busy morning of getting
people to radio other National Parks (from the Park office at Mgahinga) and
Kampala (local travel agent) we were on the verge of deciding that Scott would
go on Wednesday’s single vacancy and I would see if we got a lucky
cancellation on Thur or Fri when Miriam, from Volcanoes Agency, met us in Kisoro
with the news that Bwindi has vacancies tomorrow and Wed! Excellent News! We
rushed to Volcanoes Lodge and got the manager to radio that we were leaving that
instant for Bwindi and track gorillas tomorrow. We got a packed lunch from them
and hit the road.
wait, before I tell more of this story, back to other events of the morning,
which were pretty cool. Sheeba took us to his village to see the local
blacksmith at work. This guy works the way his father and grandfather worked
before him and he is training his sons to do the same. To be honest, I don’t
think the method has changed much since the iron age. What made it even more
incredible is that he made us a knife to take home with us. It is a really good
job – straight blade, wooden handle and very, very sharp. As Scott said,
no-one has ever made him a knife before!
took lots of photos which will explain it all better than I ever could. Two
things that impressed me most were the bellows which looked positively ancient
and the way he could press the red-hot iron of the knife handle straight into a
piece of wood. Awesome!
the rangers in the park are great. Entrance is 15USD pp/pd but they let you walk
to a viewing platform about 1km into the park without paying. The views of the
volcanoes were awesome. I am glad that we took the opportunity, particularly as
we ended up leaving pretty suddenly.
drive here was long and hard. It took us 4 ½ hours to cover barely more than
100km. The roads were terrible in patches and we also had some heavy rain.
Fortunately the rain came down when we were on a good stretch of gravel road. We
got to the park at about 6:30pm so we decided to splash out on a dinner and
support the local community by doing so! (or we were just being lazy – you
decide). They will also make us a packed lunch for tomorrow. We have to be at
the park HQ at 8am to find out if we will be going or not. It looks pretty good
but is not definite yet so lets hold thumbs.
drove through some awesome forest to get here and the camp setting is very nice
so I’ll be making a point of taking lots of photos.
had an absolutely wonderful day. We arrived bright and early, well before 8am
and all ready to go only to hear that we would have to wait until 8:30 to see
who turned up. If there was a vacancy we could join in. Strange that HQ in
Kampala was pretty sure there were vacancies but the park itself wasn’t! We
paid up in advance and at 8:20 4 people turned up and that was it – we were
going to see the gorillas!
thing about our travelling companions. I think I mentioned that our visit to the
chimps, we mere joined by an American couple. Well, guess who we met again for
our gorilla trip? Pretty big coincidence don’t you think? Anyway, back to the
were introduced to our guide, trackers and army escort – all friendly guys.
Then we had a brief rundown of the dos and don’ts and by 8:50 we were on our
way. It was a bit of a shock – the walk sent us straight up the side of a
mountain. Oh boy! We lasted 10 minutes before having to take our first break. I
was glad to be with people who needed more rest than me? Nasty I know but at
least I didn’t have to feel the pressure of holding up the group. We walked
for three hours before finally finding the gorillas. It was a tough walk. Soon
after crossing over the mountain (we gained over 500m altitude) we left the
forest tracks and as they started actually tracking the gorillas, we did some
true bundu bashing with the guys in front using machetes to hack our way
the whole thing works is that the trackers go directly to where they last saw
the gorillas the day before. They then track them from there until we basically
run into them. True animal tracking I guess. The walking is hard. The forest is
hot and humid, the way is blocked by thorny things, vine things, big branches
and little branches. The worst part is that the stuff underfoot is hard to walk
on too. You never actually walk on the ground – it is either on a spongy layer
of leaves and other stuff or, even worse, you can be walking several feet above
the ground over tightly growing branches. This is scary, Scott went through
once, one foot dropping into a hole. It is not too nice walking with the
‘ground’ bouncing beneath you.
we got to the gorillas all of this faded into insignificance. Our first views
were from the back and all we saw was a hand reaching up to get leaves. And
pluck off a branch. I was disappointed because they pretty much guarantee
finding gorillas but make a point of saying that they can’t guarantee good
views. I thought that this was as good as it was going to get. Then we moved
around the group to get a front view a boy was it great. They highlights were
the baby who performed right in front of us, a young male who did a mock charge
and stopped about 2m in front of Scott and of course seeing the silverback male.
Man is he huge! They limit you to one hour with the gorillas and it was a
wonderful hour that just flew by.
left the gorillas when our hour was up and headed a short way away before
stopping for lunch. This was also pretty good. Everyone had a packed lunch so
I’m glad that the guy at the campsite insisted on one for us too. It went down
very well! All that remained after this was to get back to camp, a walk of two
hours up the mountain and down the other side. Richard, one of our new friends,
took some strain, he has a bad knee which makes the steep downhills a real
killer. He wasn’t complaining at all, just going slowly. Scott and I hung
around the back with him. I had no reason to race off and it was kind of fun
having time to smell the roses. (You know what I mean!)
and his wife Carol, were the ones we had met before. They invited us to their
lodge run by Mantana for drinks afterwards. We all went our respective ways for
showers and then drove the 2km for drinks. This place is a luxury tented lodge
and is really great. When we arrived for our drinks, they invited us to join
them for dinner, an offer we eagerly accepted. We had a great time. It was the
four of us and the other 2 from the tracking – also Americans from Washington
state. Richard owns a cattle ranch in Georgia (among other things) and that’s
something I’d really like to see. Scott and I are debating making a trip to
the US to visit our friends there – Steve, Bob, Tony, Jil Vicky, Rick and now
Richard and Carol too.
got back to camp at about 9pm after an absolutely wonderful day, evening and
got up this morning fully intending to spend a night midway between Bwindi and
Kampala. As the entry heading shows, somehow this didn’t happen. We got up to
rain and a wet tent – not heavy rain but hours of soft rain, just what they
needed after a pretty dry season. We packed up our wet tent and headed out. It
was not really raining at that stage but at least some of the dust had been
stilled by the rain. This powdery dust is awful – we put in a new air filter
when we were in Kampala last but it already needs replacing. It’s on our to-do
list for tomorrow!
100km to Kabale town from Bwindi took 4 hours and it was stressful because we
were running pretty low on fuel. This was not due to unavailability but more to
carelessness. We just rushed out of Kisoro so quickly that we never put in fuel.
The reserve light only came on about 20km outside of Kabale so I knew logically
that we would make it but I was still counting down the distance! We got to
Kisoro where I changed money at a bank and we filled up the car. We put in about
76l of fuel meaning we only had 4l left. Close call!
got to Mbarare at around 2pm and decided not to waste the 30USD to camp in the
park as we had planned because we would end up just sleeping there and moving on
first thing in the morning. Expensive camping! We pushed on and reached Kampala
at 6:3-pm. We stopped at a roadside market to buy chicken on a stick, no
actually meat-on-a-stick and fried bananas for supper. Delicious. We also bought
some fruit and veg to take with us. This was probably one of the best markets I
have seen yet.
a nice, long lie in, we headed into town to do some stuff. Not exciting stuff
but necessary. We bought stamps for all our cards and letters and then went off
to the tourist info to find out more about the ferry to Tanzania. We were sent
to the Railway station to the Tanzania railway offices. We booked two first
class tickets at 35USD each and one car at 80USD. Not bad at all I think. I
would be quite casual about the ferry except we heard from an Australian guy
about two people who apparently couldn’t take their Landrover on it. I am not
sure of the details of this story but the boat people know what car we have so I
hope that when we get there on Monday all is OK. The ferry only leaves at 4pm,
we have to be there at 2pm but knowing us, we’ll be early.
that we went off to do email and updates. We got 14 mails in the last week,
which we dealt with and then we did a list of co-ords for Rick and an update for
Rob. We looked at our site and Rick has done a great job with our mileage each
day and proposed vs. actual route on the map. Really neat.
it was off to Sam’s for lunch. It is a place that makes great food but is
pretty expensive. From when we left the internet café until after 5pm it rained
all the time. After lunch we tried 3 places to track down an air filter. It was
3rd time lucky but what a hassle in the rain.
back at the house we had a siesta. I have a sore throat, my standard indicator
of a cold coming on. Damn! Our dinner was braaied pork chops (steak for Scott),
pisto and other veggies – really nice.
day spent at the house so far. We basically did a clean, re-pack and fix. The
car and everything on it got a good wash as did all the dishes and cutlery. Even
the food box got unpacked and washed out. The small tent got a thorough cleaning
and all the small stuff got packed away.
stopped at 12:30 for lunch – avo rolls and popped out to buy beer and wine.
The wine is for a braai we have been invited to on Sunday. After lunch Scott
re-packed stuff on the roof of the car while I read. I had another siesta and
tonight we go out to supper. Otherwise it has been a quiet day. MNet’s second
sports channel has live test cricket – England vs. NZ but sadly we don’t get
it here. We do get CNN and I saw the sad news that John Kennedy Jr and his wife
plus her sister were killed in a plane crash last week. The funeral was today.
So another tragedy strikes the Kennedy family. His sister has now lost all her
immediate family and his wife's parents have lost two children in one blow.
night’s supper was great. We went to a Thai restaurant where we sat outside
– no tables inside. The food was very good, I’m not really a fan but we
wanted to take our hosts somewhere nice to thank them and this was their choice.
morning we did some last minute errands. The main thing was to get a spare safe
key cut. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but on our last night in
Ethiopia we left the hotel before sunrise and in the dark and the rush I left
the key behind. We did of course have a spare key but for the last couple of
weeks this has been our only safe key so we felt that another spare was due.
This was easier said than done. First finding a blank to work on was hard –
safe keys are more complex than regular keys in that they have stuff on both
sides of the stem. The guy we eventually got to cut the key had such a blunt
grinding stone and struggled so much with the whole thing that we were both
pretty sceptical that it would work. I went off to test the key before we paid
for it. Good thing – it didn’t work. The original key had a raised edge on
one side to serve as a kind of guide. He had put this on the wrong side! It was
a silly mistake and he was kind of embarrassed. Anyway, he removed the whole
thing totally, I checked again and this time it worked. The whole process took
about two hours.
also bought some stuff – water for our time on the boat, some cereal and oh
yes, a Kit Kat! The last stop was a haircut for Scott. The poor hairdresser
clearly didn’t really know what to do with this soft, straight hair so Scott
told him to go ahead with a razor (#4) and it is now very short indeed!
rest of the day was pretty quiet, we watched 2 movies on M-Net. One was Ghost
and the other was a silly one where Kirsty Alley plays a dentist killed in an
accident who then becomes the Tooth Fairy. Odd but funny.
goes to church on Sunday mornings. We didn’t go with her but I met her later
in town to go to a place called
Owina market. Here you can buy second hand clothes from Europe at ridiculous
prices. Ridiculous being 500-1000 Shillings for a short and around 3000
Shillings for trousers. Margeurite had a ball. She must have bought 10 shirts
and about 4 pairs of trousers and then some other stuff – kids clothes, shorts
was not really looking to buy but when Marguerite’s friend bought me a shirt I
felt obliged to but myself something so I got a pair of pants. Fortunately they
are a perfect fit. You can’t try anything on of course which makes it a bit
hit-and-miss for my taste.
this it was off for our lunch which turned out to be not a braai. Also, I
expected piles of people but we were the only ones. Nice of them to invite us.
What a place! The house is OK, nothing too special but the garden is wonderful.
It is beautifully laid out and runs right down to almost the edge of the lake
(Lake Victoria). They have stunning views across the lake. My only regret is
that I didn’t take a camera.
couple we visited were nice. They are English but have lived in Africa for about
27 years, 7 in Uganda and 20 in Kenya. Very much the way you picture the British
colonial types but most Europeans in Uganda seem to lead this type of life.
Lunch was great too.
left the house at about 4:30pm and before going back to our place, we were taken
to see a new leisure resort on the lake. Very nice. In fact, very South African.
I think that Uganda will become more and more like that as South African
businesses move North. That in itself is not a bad thing but I wish that
lifestyles here were less like in SA. I guess it’s because the lives of
ex-pats here seems to be limited to mixing with other ex-pats and not with local
Ugandans. It’s sad really. I felt in Ethiopia for example that ex-pats almost
had to live like that to escape from the poverty and preserve their own sanity
but Uganda isn’t like that. There are lots of Ugandans who live just like the
white do but there is little or no mixing. Odd and uncomfortable.
day in Uganda! We had a very good time here but are ready to move on. We are
starting to see the end of the journey as attainable and want to get there.
It’s not surprising, we have little more than a months left before it’s back
to work. Customs and immigration were once again painless and we have even
already done the immigration process for Tanzania at the cost of 30USD each for
visas. My presence was not even required, only my passport! Only Tanzanian
customs remains. The biggest shock was to see that this boat is NOT a RORO
ferry. Robert said that it was and we did not even question it. In the end we
were forced to watch as our car was picked up by a crane and deposited in the
hold of the boat. Tomorrow we have to watch the same process in reverse! I think
that I might have chosen to drive had I known this. I’ve heard to many
scare stories about cars being dropped.
from the car, loading and unloading takes ages. They pack bags onto a pallet,
move it ashore by crane, unload the pallet and start again. The incoming ferry
only arrived at 1pm so needless to say we did not make our 4pm departure. We
even saw a truckload of bricks being moved 1 by 1 from truck to pallet, the
pallet being lifted onto the boat where they were then removed one by one and
stacked in the hold. To think that this entire process has to happen again, in
reverse, in Mwanza! I can’t believe that no-one thought of palletising them or
packing them to begin with. Weird.
boat is OK. Probably no better or worse than the one we crossed the med in. Or
at least, first class in this one is like pleb class on that one! At least we
have a private cabin with 2 beds and a basin. What more can you ask for!
a night. We were due to stop at Bukoba at 11pm but I think that it eventually
happened at around 1-2am. Then we had hours of terrible noise – loading of new
passengers and cargo. Scott was even called at some ungodly hour to move the car
so that more cars could be loaded. We were joined by tons of army people. All of
this took until 5am instead of the scheduled 1am. It is now 10am with no land in
sight. No idea when we will arrive. Wait and see…