Well, I was going to simply post this as a Facebook post, but the day became so much bigger than a status update, and the only way I talk about it was a full blogpost. The day started early, at 5:20am, and after a nice breakfast at the hotel, we exchanged some money and hit the road. First, through the urban areas of Kampala. Kampala is a very busy city, and a very poor city. We saw lots of small markets, lots of motorcycles, and lots of cute babies. We also saw lots of fresh fruit being sold. Apparently, they grow lots of bananas, pineapples, sugar cane, rice and root vegetables.
We headed from there, up to Murchison Falls, which was a several hour ride. The whole way there, we saw lots of people with buckets of water. Kids carrying it on their bikes, moms carrying it on their heads, and fathers loaded down on their bicycles. What struck me was how great the amazing need for water was, every where we went. I mean, I know it’s a big need, but when I think of the work that Blood:Water Mission has done the past 10 years, and how all these years I’ve thought this was mainly a “out in the villages” kind of issue, and then you drive this major road and every other person has a water jug they’ve either filled or are going to get filled, it all makes sense.
I was most struck by this today, this one gripping thing. That kids literally walk miles just to attain water that may or not even have bacteria and disease in it. That these families are drinking water that they know and accept will probably make them sick, but they’ve grown to accept it, and can’t afford to boil it because the charcoal needed for fires is better used for other things, including selling it in the city for folks who don’t have access to wood for burning. Water, something that we take for granted, is this amazingly vital thing that so many people don’t have realistic access to. That’s why this trip means so much to me.
What else happened today? Well, our van driver, who loved to cruise at a brisk 140km pace, almost ran into a cow that crosses into the road. That was crazy. Then, I started seeing lush groves of coffee trees. I actually got to stop and check out the robusta trees, filled with green cherries. Picked a handful, put it in my mouth. Broke one open, saw the two beans. Amazing to see it at origin for the first time in my life. Then, we got to see Murchison Falls, which was an amazing place, the most violent of waters, one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen. Uganda is a beautiful place in most parts.
From there, we headed to our room at the Paraa Safari Lodge, checked in, and immediately headed on a safari through the second largest wildlife reserve in Uganda. Immediately we saw antelope, giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, baboons, large numbers of birds, and even a Cayman alligator. It was truly awesome to see these animals in the wild, in their natural settings. Not in a zoo. Giraffes silhouetted against the Ugandan sunset. Amazing. This was very cool, and then….
Well, then, our driver got a little, OK, a lot stuck on a spot of the road, and we were officially stuck. The other team was way ahead, and we had little coverage to call them. We tried to figure a way out, and were perplexed, then, the other team circled back. As it seems, they, too had come to a spot of the road that they were unable to pass, and so there they were, and there we were. We were stuck, blocking the road. The idea was, that they would go around us, and pull us out. That was the plan, anyway. They ended up getting stuck right next to ours. Now, they were stuck, and we were stuck, and fully blocking the road. We were all also covered in mud, I removed my sandals just to go barefoot because my sandals kept getting stuck in the mud, so I was covered in mud to my knees.
After an hour and a half, maybe two hours, we were able to free the other team’s Land Cruiser, which didn’t change the fact that they couldn’t go the way they’d tried, we couldn’t move, and we had no plan for getting out, and we couldn’t reach anyone by phone. No one. We tried everything we could, nothing. It was a stalemate. Finally, hours later from our start, someone at the lodge was reached, and they were sending a team to help us. We were right smack dab in the middle of this wildlife reserve, lions, tigers, you name it. We had no real way to even describe where we were. And after about 30-45 minutes, they came, and pulled us on. And it was 10:30pm. And we were SO thankful to be out of there, and to be back to the lodge, and cleaned up a little. Thankfully, the hotel left the buffet open for us, and so we ate, and here I am.
What a day. I really can’t wrap my head around all of this, and how it’s already changed me in so many ways. This lodge we’re staying at turns their power off in the morning, and doesn’t turn it back on till 6pm, because they use solar, and store it up all day, then use it at night. Everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen conservation on a different level. It’s really been too much to process in just one day. We leave in the morning to visit the wells and Divine Waters, who Blood:Water partners with here, followed by a reception. I can’t wait.
That’s it for now, I’m exhausted. Till tomorrow.