Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Uganda: Are We Done Yet??

Okay I've gotten really really behind in updating. Not only is the narrative about last Autumn's East Africa trip really dragging but I never finished Guinea before that, nor had time to even mention being in the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan earlier this year (Hey I went to teh Philippines and Kyrgyzstan!), or my current adventures in Australia, and within the next two months I should be going BACK to Guinea!

I used to try to write an entry a day for every day of June, which I kept up for a number of years. Thinking about compelling myself to such an obligation again to jump start my blogging! Anyway:

RECAP: As you probably don't recall, where we had left off I was in the small town of Kesese in Western Uganda, I had gone on a grueling hike up the "mountains of the moon" and then spent the next day touring about the area a bit and went out to the local nightclub with the two receptionists of the hotel.
   Update: I did finally get around to calling receptionist Sharon in the time since that entry, she hadn't had my Australian number ... and it's really hard to keep track of hers because she seems to call me from a different number every time so I have to call the hotel to get ahold of her. Anyway now she no longer works at the hotel, has returned to Fort Portal for school. It's good to be in touch again.

Wednesday, November 4th, Day 32, Kasese, Western Uganda - Got back in to my room around 2am that night I believe. I was fairly exhausted, still recovering from the hike, and had to get up at 6 because we had a lot of driving to do that day. If that wasn't enough lack of sleep, on top of it I had to get up and run (across the hotel courtyard!) to the bathroom three or four times that night, as something had destroyed my digestive system (I think I may have mentioned this in the last post, the only real culprit, the only place I had eaten that day since breakfast was a small very well reviewed little "western style cafe" run by a women's group. I had iced coffee there though and ice cubes are always suspect, being made usually from local water.
   Our plans to get an early start were stymied by the fact that, as per hotel rules about checking in valuables, I had checked in my laptop with the front desk and couldn't get it back until Sharon got back at 7:00 (Sharon and Maggie work like 12 hours a day 7 days a week in the hotel reception ... for probably less per month than you make in a day)
   From there we proceeded in the dawn's early light back up the road, past the outskirts of town, past the local king's palace (a sort of colorful blocky mansion), up the valley and into the hills to the northeast.
   From there we proceeded to a wetlands walk located among the tea estates just a few kilometers north of For Portal. I had seen flyers for it in the hotel, they had been headlined "see the flufftail!" When I had asked Sharon about it she said "you want to see the Flufftail?" which was adorable with her accent. I had never heard of a flufftail but it's kind of an inherently funny word so I said yes I did want to see the flufftail. Apparently it is a rare bird that the expert guides on this nature walk can sometimes coax into coming into view by making their call. Also Sharon and Maggie, as part of their hospitality courses in Fort Portal had gone along with these nature walks .. to, you know, learn about the flufftail.
   So we found the place, a little office off the side of the road surrounded by the usual banana plantations and tea fields (sort of alternating here, with tea plantations dominating the tops of hills). I was instructed to put on rubber goloshes and was accompanied by a guide and another hospitality student and off we went!
   This was much more like what I had hoped the grueling mountain hike had been, strolling about the jungley forests next to the tea fields, the guide pointing out every bird species (he was definitely a bird enthusiast and said many people that come on the hikes are birders themselves), as well as monkeys, both by their calls and frequently spotting them themselves. Sadly with the loss of my notes and the passage of so much time I can't tell you much about the monkeys except I thinik there were two kinds of colobus monkeys? And maybe a smaller species? Despite the guide being very knowledgable about the birds and monkeys, I don't think he was prepared for my greatest interest being in stopping to examine every interesting insect I came across. I think I got a really good one of an interesting colorful wasp with my phone ... which has been lost forever.
   We heard an elephant, and even came across some of its tracks in the mud so fresh the guide said they'd been made earlier that very morning, but sadly we did nto spot the elephant itself. The walk took us away from the edge of the tea estates and right into the jungle, where in many parts of the trail we were balancing from one unstable piece of wood to the next or just plain wallowing through deep puddles threatening to go over the top of our wellingtons, I would have absolutely loved this hike ... if it weren't for the fact that I VERY VERY BADLY needed to go to the bathroom. Sadly I was in very great discomfort by the time we finally finished (though I think he had earlier given me an option of a route that would end sooner or one that would go deeper into the jungle and I still opted for the longer route because I am determined!). Nevertheless when we got back to his little headquarters building I immediately asked if there was a bathroom and was directed to a outhouse out back, which as is typical just had a hole to squat over in it, but at this point I had no qualms whatsoever!

   By now I think it was around 11 or 12. We were headed back through Fort Portal so we stopped once again at what is definitely my favorite restaurant in the country (I was about to say all of Africa but there's a damn good indian place in Addis Ababa). Not surprisingly I didn't have much of an appetite but I think I was able to eat whatever I got. I remember particularly enjoying the ginger tea I got to settle my stomach.
   Now to orient you, Kampala is a good day's drive more or less due east from Fort Portal. Kesese, where we had been, is south west in a valley. Now we headed to a valley to the north west of Fort Portal. I think I fell asleep for a little bit but when I awoke we were winding down a very steep and narrow valley. After two or three hours of driving we arrived at [my notes have been lost] where we met with another coop group that was interested in beekeeping training. After talking with them for awhile in their little headquarters building they asked if I wanted to go see their beehives, and I had gotten the impression it was just a short walk, like a kilometer away, so I said I did.
   First we waved down some motorbike taxis, once we'd collected about half a dozen of them (even in a small town there's dozens and dozens of them), we zipped down the road about ten minutes, then down a muddy side road on which the motorbikes kept losing their traction and the drivers would put their legs out frequently to stabilize off the ground. Finally the motorbikes couldn't go any further and we proceeded on foot. Even then, we were soon obliged to use walking sticks to try to prevent ourselves from slipping and even then the ground was so slippery I had a few close calls.
   At one point we had to cross a deep and quickly moving stream, that was maybe ten feet across, on a narrow log.

And it was around here I saw these cute kids bringing home bundles of kassava leaves to be used in dinner

   The narrow muddy trail here was sometimes a veritable tunnel through tall marsh grass, but not infrequently there weere little thatched farm houses and their outbuildings on islands of higher ground. At one point I saw a thatched little farmhouse with an old rusty satellite dish and the unmistakable sounds of a television eminating from the inside. Out here, in pretty close to the center of Africa, at least one arduous kilometer from the nearest road you can get a vehicle on. The modern world!
   Also it should be noted that, you guessed it, I really really had to, as the preferred African euphemism puts it, "ease myself." But even if I was desperate enough to maybe go in a normal forest or something, I wasn't about to leave this trail and venture into the trackless marsh grass for a moment.
   Finally, FINALLY, after what seemed more like a three kilometer walk along treacherous muddy trails, we came to our destination, where beehives had been spread among some cocoa groves. Interestingly, part of their motivation was that I guess local kids like to steal cocoa pods so the beehives among them was a deterrent against the kids. Beehives looked pretty good, were well occupied. I got some pictures, you know, all lost.
   And then, THEN we had to return, along this long long treacherous slippery trail with my increasing intestinal distress. Back across the narrow log bridge. In front of us a young woman went across with a large load balanced on her head and I tried to get a picture but alas she was too fast ... not that it wouldn't have been lost anyway.
   Returning finally to their headquarters I suppose I must have eased myself with their hole in the ground. Then Alex and I (I just realized I have heretofore not mentioned Alex in this entry, he is my local colleague, arranged these meetings and drove us about in his car. Always wears a fedora and I suspect the Mormons may have claimed his soul but he never let on about religion (several past projects of his were funded by the LDS church)), so Alex and I then proceeded to another location nearby, that was up the slopes a bit, among thick cocoa plantations. As is often the case, the car couldn't make it all the way down the road but it was jsut a short walk to the farmhouse where we met a bunch of people. The usual talking ensued.
   Then we were driving further west, back past the town we were just at. By now it was getting on towards late afternoon, 5 or 6pm. I stopped by to visit someone just off the main road that Alex had apparently told we would visit, though by now I was pretty over visits for the day. They showed us some more beehives and I was really feeling like "yeah, great. yep. that's a beehive."
   Got back in the car and to my utter shock and dismay Alex informed me we were going to make one more visit. I'm usually thoroughly willing to go along with things but after a long loong day of feeling sick I was getting on towards deliriously tired and told him no, we are done for the day.
   We continued west along the road, descending in darkness from the side of the narrow valley into a bigger broader valley and reached a town where the plan was to spend the night. Alex had in mind a particular hotel owned by the local mayor or governor or some such "big man" but it was booked out so we went to another, which I had no complaints about at all, I had a "western style" toilet right in my room that was all I cared about! I'd have liked to have gone straight to sleep but Alex insisted we go for dinner at the hotel he had originally wanted to book at. We had another colleague with us as well, someone from the last coop. I wanted chicken soup since I was feeling fairly ill, but I've seen what passes for "soup" in Africa plenty of times so I quizzed the waiter and he somehow convinced me the soup would be within western norms of chicken soup. I don't know how he convinced me, I blame my fatigued condition. Anyway the "soup" arrived and as all-too-often seems to happen in africa it was essentially one giant rubbery hunk of chicken in a bath of hot water. I had ordered ginger tea as well but he forgot about it until after the inedible "soup" arrived I asked him where my tea was. I forget what else he got wrong but I recall feeling like he'd gotten other things wrong about my order as well. I tried to consume some of the "chicken soup" but couldn't make much progress on it and had to run for the bathroom five minutes after ingesting any of it anyway.

   Finally, finally, we walked back to our hotel and I was able to pass out in my bed. Thus ends another exciting day in Africa!

Tags: agdev, east africa 2015, travel, travelogue, travelogues, uganda

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