The last two weeks.. perfect. packed in so much and was traveling all over the country. it was a great and much needed break from the acedemic world. i’ll try to summarize it as best as i can.. top ten list of the highlights, not neccesarily in this order:
10. Eating out at a place called The Rainforest Lodge with Jake, my roomate and her family. It is an out of the way place surrounded by trees and birds and animals. It’s a beautifully built building – all natural, and it had a lot of character. The food was yummy and the atmosphere was terrific. We ate outside until it was dark and the jungle sounds composed our background music.
9. 12K hike on mount elgon and to Sipi Falls. So gorgeous. my favorite part of the hike was that there were so many different elements in the miles we covered. We started out in the forest of Mount Elgon with our extremely skinny but able guide, Robert. Went under a waterfall, through caves (bats are Huge), and waded through muddy paths. After the park, we set out through cornfields along the edge of cliffs to the waterfalls. We ran into some boys roasting corn that smelled oh-so-delicious. so. we stopped and each bought one for 100 uganda shillings (6 cents). it was delish, and we made some boys (who grabbed a couple stalks of corn from their neighbors) really happy. Finally, hiked down through acres of banana and coffee plants to the bottom of the waterfalls. then through some fields, back to the main road. Great quad workout!
8. A spontaneous trip to Busi Island near Entebbe with Jake. We found a local guy to take us out on his boat, where we “rescued” a couple we met previously from Denmark (more of a story in itself). We found this sweet orphanage there and had a dinner of rice. The island was beautiful, and we rode back on the lake with a full moon and a lot of bugs.
7. Traveling on the road from Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth’s National Park. There was a stretch of about 2 miles of MUD. Mud that our 4wd Range Rover barely made it through. we saw cars stuck and a tractor trailor turned over. It was quite a ride — felt like when you fishtail in the snow, but more slippery.
6. IDP (Interally Displaced People) Camp in the Teso Region. The people in this camp were there of their own decision. Living conditions were not ideal, but safer than their real homes. I met and talked with only a handful of people and kids. The languages they knew did not include English. It was a different kind of experience thrown in with my week of doing fun things.. But good.
5. Queen Elizabeth’s National Park – our stay at their lodge was generously paid for by my rich brother Jake in the oil business.. Uniquely situated on a crazy shaped peninsula, it had a panaramic view and lots of wildlife. we saw elephants, cobs, warthogs, hyenas, hippos, buffalo, and a lion! all were amazing and we got rather close..
4. The Nile.. wow. While white water rafting, we went over a 15 foot waterfall! The front of the raft was submerged, then we just kind of popped back to the surface.
3. The Nile again – There was a rapid called “Big Brother.” We hit the rapid when the swell was the highest.. Head On. Our boat went straight into a 10 foot (easily) wave and the entire raft was bent, then snapped back. Those of us who didn’t get hit straight on by the wave initially were ejected from the boat when it snapped back. I flew up in the air, then was underwater for a lot of seconds. It probably was only about 7, but it felt so much longer. Oh Yeah! The rubbers in the boat snapped, and it took everyone a while just to regroup and keep going down the river. On of the most amazing rushes ever.. if you’re into that sort of thing =)
2. Bungee Jumping. 145 feet. The bottom = The Nile River. A few seconds of sheer terror. It was an unprecedented moment in my life. The guy asked if i wanted to “touch” the Nile, so i said yes.. it was more of a plunge, but i didn’t even realize i was in the water until i was out of it.
1. Gorillas! Jake and I went to Bwindi Impenitrable Forest to see the Rushegura Group. There are 3 countries in the world where you can see Mountain Gorillas – Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. We hiked up a mountain for several hours using a machete where there was no clear path, and trudging through/over/on a lot of bush. It’s name is well deserved “Bwindi Impenitrable Forest.” When we found the Gorillas, it was amazing! Some were hangin out in the trees eating, a mom was feeding her baby, we even saw the Silverback – oldest gorilla in the group. His name is “Darkness,” and he was enormous. Picture how big the head of anything that weighs 500 pounds has to be. So when we left, all of the gorillas were together in a clearing – some wrestling, some eating, some just laying there looking at us. At one point these 2 guys dropped from the trees above about 5 feet away. It was so neat to see them in their natural environment. We then had a long, slippery climb back down the mountain. What an experience.
I spent some time putting pictures online so you can get a general idea.
In other news…
The women’s football team got creamed by a team we played last Wednesday. we found out afterwards they were the National Team – the Uganda Cranes. Made me feel a little better, but during the game I was so frustrated. May have lost my temper once or twice.. Fortunately, I still can’t say I’ve ever gotten kicked out of a soccer game. I kept my cool in the end, but if you’ve ever been beaten by a team that dribbles circles around you (or something similar) you know how i felt. Patience. and ongoing theme here.
I think I’ll wrap it up there.. Thank you all for listening!