21.01.2016 - 21.01.2016
After a lovely (much needed) sleep and an absolutely perfect breakfast (Fresh pineapple, paper thin crepes with PB&J, eggs over easy and fresh avocado)- Karibu Guest House gets a big win from us.
Lamenting my forgotten insect repellent, we set out early to swing by a mall to grab some before we set off into the jungle. There is security here absolutely everywhere you could think of having it. Large steel gates or big cement fences are everywhere and are almost always accompanied by at least 2 security guards wielding guns. The mall was no different- we got the stink eye rolling through in our taxi, likely more for the inconvenience than for the security risk.
After a 20 minute saunter around the mall, Ian appeared with multiple options for insect repellent and several excuses as to why it took so long. At this point- I still thought we had a schedule to keep.
The security lady at the airport wouldn't let us in the airport because there was no Aerolink sign. Fast forward ten minutes to two lovely young girls coming and retrieving us to "check us in"
They charge us USD$3 for every kilo we are over for our baggage allowance (hiking boots are heavy...) and then hand us reusable boarding passes (only a souvenir problem really)
We get VIP through security and then get asked if we have had lunch (obviously not and we know that if we don't eat we will be having a pout-off en route to Kihihi).... Then all Aerolink staff disappears. We sat there like kindergarteners just waiting for the teacher to yell green light. When one of them finally reappeared, she walked us to the airport buffet and instructed us to eat. Feeling bullied we did (the daal and paneer were actually pretty good); and she even bought our lunch (we were slightly confused).
Aerolink staff disappears... Again. At this point our flight has had a flight change and now what seems to be 2 delays...? Who knows. They keep abandoning us.
Boarding call!!! Hooray!!! No more grumpy Ian!!!
Thunder storm... Boooooo more grumpy Ian.
Boarding call!!!! Hazaaaaaa!!! Time to go!!!
Wheels u..... Nope. Computers aren't displaying correctly (boooooo). I actually at this point was trying to figure out how to get a refund on this trip and a beer for the Caveman.
Just as we are about to get on the bus to shuttle us back to the airport; our Cessna Caravan pilots instruct us that they have fixed the problem and our 11 passenger chariot awaits (really at this point it was hard to believe we were actually going to get to leave).
But we did take off; without incident. We had a 55 minute trip to Kasese and then another 24 minutes to Kihihi (Ian would like me to point out I had a cat nap on the plane; which he thinks is absurd and I think is efficient). After dropping our philanthropic travel partners off (they opened an Orphanage in Kasese 5 years ago) we headed further south. The pilots graciously flew us in a flight path that allowed us to catch glimpses of wildebeast, hippopotamuses, and elephants in the Queen Elizabeth Reserve. Uganda is a magical place.
Uganda has had its share of problems over its years; most recently in the news was Kony 2012 (Mom and Grandma, please google that). Otherwise the country has been reasonably stable since the late nineties. Our driver (Petrus) was born in Uganda, went to school to be an accountant and then found it too hard to get work so he went into tourism. Driving through the country, some people wave and others yell. I am sure there is mixed feelings towards us western tourists gawking out of our safari jeep window at them as they go about their daily life. But what struck me today was this: I don't think they would want our life (stay with me...). We wake up too early, we dial in, we upload, download, meet, greet, page turn, review, mark up, go home when it's dark, eat dinner too late and then add in some extra circular and there you have it. Everyone had a smile on their face today, and though maybe not rich with money they are (or seem to be) filled with happiness. Take it for what it's worth- and don't put too much stock in my half-baked philosophizing.
We arrived at Bwindi Lodge hours after we were scheduled to (about 4 hours late)- but the place is gorgeous. After a delicious dinner of pumpkin soup, peanut curry, and ginger crumble- we are happily purring and ready for bed. Tomorrow: 630am wake-up call for the Gorillas.