A Long Drive Before the Long Drive...but a Nice Break
31.03.2016 - 31.03.2016 29 °C
Again, pictures ASAP...
I was ready to go this morning and waiting for Joseph's 9am pickup. He took me to change some money and we arrived at the office near 10. Aludi had to make sure everyone was paid before we left so we didn't get to take off after getting gas until around 11:30.
Beforewe left i received a confirmation of a meeting in Kampala...which I thought would be with Red Crescent. Unfortunately, when the woman wrote her confirmation, her email was signed with Red Cross Society. I was crushed. Chrissie had been under the impression that they worked side by side, and if you look online, there are many documents which discuss both together. What I hadn't realized that each country was assigned a different one. One country could only be Red Cross or Red Crescent. Knowing that there were Muslims in this country and not truly understanding the Red Cross/Red Crescent relationship, I was assumed I'd be able to find both offices here.
Much of the ride to the park, I was upset...wondering if my efforts to connect my students to Uganda were all for naught. The woman at Red Crescent gave me a contact in Al Rashidiya of all places. I laughed as it is so very close to where I live in Dubai but I saw a long road of work ahead for me...and still the possibility that it wouldn't work. I watched the villages and towns pass by where something as simple as closer access to water could provide safety to the many girls of all ages, some appearing to be 3 and 4, walking along this highway with jerry-cans on their heads...and thinking about how many structures we have in place to protect our students, even in Dubai. I knew there were people there who wanted to help but I know that I must be able to create a way to go through the Red Crescent or all this research would be for nothing...I must say that it put me in a grumpy mood for a good while.
It was beyond hot outside. I saw so much out there...we spent a good hour on a road that was under construction so we were often in a mass of red dust. We stopped in a town called Olwiyo where Aludi bought real snacks, including goat on a stick (shish kebab style)...we turned and were on the road to the park, still 7km to the gate.
Entry for foreigners was 40USD. After filling the tank fo 192,500 (57USD) Ush, I was starting to question my budget to get me through to next Thursday. With the negativity built up in thinking about the future of trying to help, I almost wanted to say forget it...but I paid the 133,000 Ush and we were on our way. As soon as we were a couple of km inside, I was starting to feel the money was well spent. I saw antelope, baboons, and warthog right away. Later I saw elephants, giraffes and other animals which I can't be sure of the breed. I couldn't get the pictures of some of the gorgeous birds as they were too quick gut they had gorgeous blue and green in their wings.
Apparently we drove about 30km when we arrived at the Nile River. It was beautiful...it was still extremely hot, but we sat under a tree and snacked (real snacking.) There were 2 ways to Murchison Falls, by boat against the current for two hours then back in an hour and a half, or by car which required us to take the ferry across and drive an hour each way. Now in a more amenable mood, I wanted to go on the boat...but the guy said that they were all 30 USD/person-including locals! Since I still hadn't heard anything about my flight allowance, I figured that this was not the best way to go. I considered the ferry and decided we should go...then the wind picked up like crazy.
I watched as a whole SUV full of Chinese men climbed onto the Catamaran and one nearly lose his hat in the wind as it blew it 20 yards from him. I walked along the river from there and I was able to catch an elephant wandering along the Nile with his feet in the water and saw a family of hippos hanging out at the edge of the pier. As the clouds drew nearer and the wind stronger, I sat back down. Then the rain came...and hard!
While sitting in the car, I watched the water get rough and the men who played music for tourists huddle in their shelter as the rain whipped us all around. I started to thank God I didn't get on the boat...and began imagining the Chinese men soaked with their technological gadgets...
After waiting for the ferry, I began to be conscious of time so I told Aludi we could go back to the resort we'd passed on the way to this pier where he wanted to have a drink. Inside, I entered a restaurant where a cappuccino cost 7500Ush...the same amount as my whole Ethiopian meal. The ambience of the place was nice and I chose a seat on the balcony closer to the railing-just far enough away as not to get wet. The view of the Nile was spectacular, the sound of the rain soothing and I sat back and thought how so many people could come to Uganda and think that this was what living here was like.
Since the buffet was more than the cost of my hotel, I passed and we went down to have that drink. I hadn't seen the bar Aludi had talked about when I entered because it was the poolside bar. The rain had just about stopped so I had a rum & Coke and we shared a "snack" plate of Fish N Chips. It was plenty, really...and I was well aware that the Cuba Libre was probably going to cost me...I decided I no longer cared.
After a chat with the guys at the bar--all workers there, we began our journey back. We didn't need to use A/C anymore...it was beautiful. On our way back, we got pretty close to some rams and an elephant who wanted to come say hello but Aludi got us out of there quick.
I contemplated our long journey for the next day while I watched the gorgeous countryside and the laughing children making their way home down the highway from school...and later while they walked through the red dust storms created by passing cars...
Upon final arrival, my very merry and social friend begged off going out for snacks later as he was exhausted from driving all day...and was also worried about the full day of driving ahead. Of course I was so worried about my friend as well...and, honestly happy to have the night to myself.
We agreed to meet before work at 8:15.