Monday, August 06, 2007

dispatch from the land of the little birds - part II

Ah-Gandhi? As promised, here is the second installment from our journey to southwestern Uganda.

Before I get started, I should mention that we were a bit ambitious when planning the trip. Initially I had the girls convinced to go to Kigali to visit genocide memorials and Virunga to see the gorillas. In the interest of time and money (visas get a bit pricey), they opted to return to Kampala after our time at Bunyonyi and then attempt a safari at Murchison Falls before heading to Gulu later this week. I was disappointed (especially being so close to the Rwanda border - only 60 km or so), but I know I'll be back. I'll have to push Rwanda off for another trip add-on. I'm set on seeing the gorillas, so while spelunking is off, gorilla-tracking has been added to the life list.

Saturday at Bunyonyi was very similar to Friday. We set off from the market launch early in the morning in a dugout and paddled on the glassy water for about 45 minutes, disembarking and walking back on the meandering road that lines the lakefront - about a two hour walk. After the ride and walk, Bosco invited us to see traditional dancing at the orphanage he runs with his Grandmother. We climbed up to their plot and sat on the grass as eleven adorable kids danced and shook their hips to the beat of a single drum. A tiny little baby bounced around to the beat and stole the show. The kids pulled us up and we danced with them, feeling like awkward giants. Afterwards we stopped down at their shop - they make and sell papyrus baskets to tourists to raise money. We nearly cleaned them out of their stock, and of course my mind was reeling trying to figure out how I could ship baskets from Bunyonyi to sell in the US. I don't know if One Mango Tree will ever happen, but moments like that inspire me just enough to keep the dream alive. Plus the baskets are beautiful.

We went back to Overland Camp and I spent the rest of the drizzly day obsessively photographing little birds from the porch of the restaurant and reading my book, The Power of One, which is a story about coming of age and boxing in the early years of apartheid in South Africa. Alexander works as staff at Overland and made it his personal mission to ensure we had a great trip. He's on an apprenticeship for a hospitality management certificate. I've never had better service (he came to our porch to take our food orders and even offered to build a charcoal fire on our porch when we were too cold and lazy to walk the 500 feet to the main restaurant area) and he even took us to the bus park in Kabale Sunday morning to see that we got back to Kampala without any problems.

We were lucky enough to get seats in the middle of the bus for the ride back (significantly less bumpy), but we still did a lot of head bobbing and iPod listening. We also ate a ton of street food (little banana pancakes, biscuits, samosas, etc.). About an hour outside of Kampala we could smell the pollution and see the effects of the heavy rains that had been pounding the city since we left. It truly was a dreary way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but it makes you feel a little better about wasting a whole day on transport. After getting settled in back at La Fontaine and ordering take away (I had a pepper steak from the restaurant downstairs and veggie spring rolls from the Chinese place across the street), our power went out and we sat chatting in the dark for a few hours, sipping red wine our of our chipped coffee mugs.

It's a gorgeous and sunny day out today and Kampala looks freshly scrubbed from all the rain. Sophia (my housemate) and I took a glorious boda ride into town and have been sitting at Cafe Pap enjoying the afternoon. Now on to the next plans - setting up Murchison for the girls...and for me, deciding on an itinerary for the Kenya trip and beyond. Should I be thinking about what happens when I come home? Nah...I'll put that off for a bit. Time to get down to business, drink lots of cappuccino, and piss away lots of time on the internet, just like I love to do.

Click here to see photos to accompany the Bunyonyi trip.

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