About time for another one of these I reckon. Welcome to Day five of our mental African road trip.
The morning began damp from the onslaught of the torrential electric night works courtesy of our new best friend, African weather, which did not make the early start routine any sweeter than we had come to know. The evening previous we had exchanged cobb and fish flavoured Uganda cash for a breakfast packed lunch, in the hope of quickening the getaway to our destination south to Fort Portal. Contained within my paper bagged brekast was a uncomfortably moist veggie samosa, an equally squishy-damp muffin, paired with the usual suspect of pineapple slices. Can’t complain, the coffee washed it down good.
Not a lot to report from the drive. We arrived in relatively good time at restaurant au lunch. Will had already visited F.P on his previous tour a couple of years back. He described how the regular bustling African/urban scene before us was a far call from what he experienced on his last visit. The story was one of general confusion as a result of clashes between police and civillians. There had been attacks on a police station in a town near F.P, which police had fought back against, resulting in many many casualties of the terrorists/protesters/freedom fighters, such was the ambiguity of the whole situation. The misinformation that circulated at the time culminated in vast numbers of police and army personnel on the streets of major towns and cities such as F.P accompanied by a chorus of sirens and hysteria. Thankfully the Uganda we were visiting in 2016 was a great deal more stable politically and militarily. His story along with others he told throughout the trip served as a stark reminder of the ‘hidden problems’ that we are not always informed of as outsiders visiting the country on a jolly around the National Parks.
Anyhow, we were grateful for the peace now, and for the house bangers playing out of a street stereo entertaining our delicious buffet lunch! I built a suitably filling bean, mixed vegetable and rice pyramid to conquer. A refreshing coke went down a treat, the dust coated stuffy cars dried your whole insides out top to toe. Rather than chuck the glass coke bottles, restaurants in Uganda send the glasses back to the factory to be refilled and recapped. The grasp warn cola stickers looked pretty cool. I imagine this is more eco-friendly than the complacent western use-it-then-chuck-it waste mentality.
From here Bosco and Silver offered for us to take a wander up the hill onto F.P main street. We had no idea where we were going or what we were going to find, nonetheless we followed to direction of traffic arms raised rejecting insistent boda offers left right and centre.
It’s a strange sensation to feel out of place, walking along the side of the road past the shops and the poeple in them. Being white we stuck out like a big white thumb amongst the locals, especially being as young as we were. I’d look twice if a sevensome of white kids came walking down the road of my hometown in central Africa. Maybe out of place isn’t the right phrase, maybe ‘obvious’ is better.
We hadn’t a clue where we were trying to go, so we took a chance on a sign for a scientific conservation centre to peak our interests for a while. Inside we were greeted by a friendly young bloke who’s name sadly I cannot recall, who seemed thrilled we had payed visit. He took myself Jas and Ian through some of the specimins on display at the centre. The presereved boney remains of some #classic Ugandan wildlife stared back at our dust coated mugs. In the centre two men sat with open textbooks taking notes looking studious. The centre was for adult education with the purpose of spreading the ideology of conservation and preservation of Uganda’s natural resources and wildlife for future generations. Another young chap who was give-or-take our age took over from the first lad gesturing to a complete chimp skeleton adjacent to the ol’ classroom favourite Homo erectus counterpart. His passion for studying his country’s ecosystems was fantastic to recieve. This guy loved chimps. He took us through the anatomy of chimps, there adaptations and such, which although we were already informed from our own studies, we embraced through the warmth and enthusiasm of the delivery of this mini lecture. One thing which is frankly amazing that I didn’t know before, was that scientists have experimented successfully with blood transfusions between chimps and humans! It only works on the first transfusion, because on successive attempts the bodies immune response rejects the transfusion as a foreign intrusion of…stuff. It’s still pretty neat though, another staggering reminder of how our evolutionary cousins are so nearly ‘us’.
Equipped with newly acquired chimp transfusion facts, we reconvened to drive on to Lake Nkuruba Nature Preserve.
We had climbed in altitude to reach the Reserve, giving us some sweet tree obstructed views. As it was in Murchison, the landscape was lush carpeted in green interrupted only by the lakes and rivers they surround.
These two compounds were where we were to call home for the night. Before this we had been offered a double room which consisted of a bucket glorified as an ‘ensuite’. Bit cheeky that. Me, Tommo and Liam were reunited in a triple with one couple opposite us and another the down the hill on the otherside of camp. We had tiled ensuite western toilets and shower rooms, although Ian and Jas’s didn’t work.
Little Macaque monkeys greeted us on arrival, chirping in the trees as we set off on foot to explore the lake that lay below the camp.
At the base of the path that lead to the lake stood another accomadation of the lodge. Screw that if it’s your stay though! I’ve never seen a place better set for a gory lake horror movie. You stay in there a night, you aint making it to the next morning. As the sun lowered its head on yet another day in paradise we enjoyed the serenity of the mirror still lake to the chorus of a million tropical bird and buggy soundtrack of the forest. Little did we know our evening wouldn’t stay so calm for long.
Meet Ebu. He owns this joint. He may look innocent, but he is the practicing lake ninja of The Nkuruba Reserve. When he’s not running around with his stick gun, rocking from his homemade hilltop swing, or racing around the block mastering the age old game of stick and tyre, he’s probably spinning around on the table in front of you roundhouse kicking your pals in the chin. This kid takes no prisoners. If he wants a photo of him in your sunglasses with his badass necklace under the table (the spliff is just out of shot) then you better not hesistate to hit that shutter. The boda boda on his shirt, thats his whip. He’s got a whole garage where he keeps the many trophies of slayen bodas from the road…alongside his victims.
He’s seen it all, he knows how silly the mzungus are. With a “doot doot” of his stick rifle, he can call upon his army of macaques to steal your chips at dusk, such is the power he does hold over the unwitting and easily cutified mzungu.
Nah I joke (although he did spin on the table and pretend to roundhouse kick us in the face) we managed to communicate with this cute kid through simple English and pointing at things. Our evening with him was definitely a highlight of the trip so far, especially when we was chasing Ian around the compound.
After our Ebu encounter, Will walked over to the lodge from his compound with some bad news. Whilst he and Izzy were chilling in the room, something had dripped onto his shirt and shoulder. We deduced he had been pissed on by a lizard from the roof, which was hilarious! And another Uganda meme was born. The pair decided they didn’t fancy sleeping in a lake of lizard pee, so they both piled in on Ian and Jas’s spare bed up on squab hill.
There was no electricity at the lodge, which made my newly broken portable battery charger an emergency situation. The boys got on it with a makeshift tech surgery. The patient came out successfully mended, but with charge depleted.
More lakes awaited us for exploring in the morning. Another day another lodge, on route the Kazinga Channel for boat ride and animal. Every day the schedule didn’t cease to amaze me. Day six would be no different.