Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog from an intrepid Tripbod traveller in...Uganda!

I departed from Kigali at 11.30am on Wed. We set off for the border amid beautiful, green surroundings. The Rwandans and Ugandans put every possible piece of land into rotation; I’ve seen people hoeing on almost vertical hillsides! Impressive, but not necessarily environmental; the soil erosion must be massive! I am aware that, similar to the South Americans, plateaus are made into every hillside - no exaggeration; the entire panoramic view as far as the eye can see is a patchwork of greens and browns, ground being cultivated or harvested with massive valleys of tea plantations, hillsides of plantain and banana trees, or little wig-wam shapes across an expanse of hillside which I am told is used to support the beans that grow on vines. The ingenuity and ability to make something from nothing astounds me more and more as I advance further into more rural and more humble communities living in the mountains.

Crossing the border was easy enough; fill in a form, pay some money, the border official looks up to take his 379th passport of the day, looks down…then quickly double takes and suddenly takes an interest as to why this Muzungu would be here. And the questioning begins; ‘How long are you staying in Uganda for?’, ‘Where will you be staying?’, ‘Oh! Only one week?’ All this is asked out of interest and general amusement at the fact that I am there, a novelty if you will; there is no ill-meaning to this questioning at all. I am then – unlike the other people I am travelling with, who happen to be East African residents – welcomed warmly to Uganda; ‘…and please enjoy your trip and you must return to go to Kampala next time!’ All those travelling with me found it hilarious, of course, that they as residents get no welcome or special treatment, whilst I was welcomed. A cynic would say this is because all Africans relate Muzungus with money; I however like to think that it is curiosity which causes an interest in my travelling around this part of Africa.

We arrive at Bwindi, and within minutes of being inside this Tarzan mountain wilderness I see monkeys! Monkeys everywhere; more and more were appearing!

Further on we bounced and skidded along the mountain tracks, inches away from vertical drops of hundreds of feet which stretched down to the valley below. Still we continued, rocketing around this corner, and then the next and then, around the next corner – a truck; we slam on the brakes and skiddddd to a halt…without screams or rude exclamations or noise; we are all transfixed as this beaten-up old wagon, overloaded with people and crates of G-d knows what comes flying towards us…and still nothing was said; we were awestruck into silence! We stopped in time, and all everyone could do was laugh, and one of the boys on the roof of the overloaded truck shouted, ‘Take it easy man!’
Then off we went as before, rocketing off round these mountain passes as if we didn’t just nearly have a head-on collision on the edge of a cliff. At this point I choose to close my eyes and sleep as I’m exhausted at the prospect of watching anymore.

We arrive in the evening darkness; real mountain-jungle, wet, musky-smelling darkness. I cannot wait to awake and see the views I can only imagine are unfolding just in front of me in the dark abyss!

1 comment:

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