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Monday, October 22, 2012


I recently had the opportunity to visit another volunteer’s site to see if the nutritional training I’ve implemented at my site may be implemented at other sites like mine (i.e. nursing schools at which students are required to do community rotations). 

The beginning of my journey proved to foreshadow the absolute madness that would describe the rest of my travel. On my way to Kampala, on the first bus of the day which I have taken numerous times and have never had any real issues with, I got stuck in the mud. More specifically, my bus got stuck on the side of my mountain, in the pouring rain, in the mud. Instead of meeting me at the school gates, I had to walk down the slippery, muddy mountain in the rain to meet the bus only to find it stuck in a ditch. The conductor insisted I board, though I wasn’t sure we’d be going anywhere that day, so I got in. After numerous attempts to get unstuck, the driver got out and went up to my nursing school, presumably to get some help. He came back a few minutes later with a pick axe and a shovel. After another half hour attempting to get the wheels unstuck, a staff member called me to ask if I had left safely to which I responded “we’re still on the hill, stuck in the mud”. He soon came out to check on us. After apparently assessing the situation, he left. I assumed he thought we were on the right track so I put in my earbuds and quickly fell asleep. When I woke up, the rain had stopped, the sun was shining stronger than ever, and there were a dozen male students from my nursing school approaching the bus with more pick axes, shovels, and machetes (I am still not sure how the machetes came into play). I opened my window and sleepily greeted the boys and watched as they banged, dug, and apparently chopped their way through the mud to free the tires. After about two hours of sitting on the side of my mountain, we were finally freed and on our way to Kampala. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it too far because there was some damage to one of the tires causing us to pull over and transfer to another vehicle. A ride that usually takes 5 hours maximum took almost 8.

Along the way, I decided to make a detour and take a quick day game drive through Murchison Falls National Park. I hadn’t done a game drive through Murchison yet, so I thought while I was up there I might as well take a few hours and do it. Lucky for me I had found a driver ahead of time through some recommendations from others who have done the game drive through Murchison Falls already. The game drive was absolutely epic, one of the few times I feel like I’m really in Africa. I got to see elephants, giraffes, warthogs, water buffalo, hippos, and even lions! The lions were a rare find and it took a bit of tracking to find them. The guide I was using stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road without telling me, leading me to question my choice in guides for a split second, then all of a sudden told the driver to turn in another direction. As we did so, again I hadn’t received any reasoning or warning prior to taking the action, I almost cursed myself for wasting money on a guide who just had us jerking around the park, when all of a sudden in front of us were two lionesses and one young adult male lion. It was absolutely unreal. Unfortunately about two seconds after we spotted them, another vehicle came up right behind us and scared them away. At least I got one decent shot of the lioness! After this the driver took me to see the famous Murchison Falls, which were just as epic as people have described it. 

While heading back to Masindi, where I could pick up a taxi heading towards the other volunteer’s site, we stopped at a camp site for lunch. Lucky for me, I had packed a sandwich and some snacks ahead of time so that I wouldn’t be hungry on the road (though sometimes I do get tempted by the roadside delights). I decided to take my lunch at one of the picnic benches near the tents, which no one seemed to protest to, in fact one of the managers of the camp grounds came by and chatted for a bit. Not two minutes after he walked away, two adult warthogs approached me. As I realized they weren’t stopping anytime soon, I began to climb onto the seat of the picnic bench. Seeing that they were continuing and seemed to have the intent of climbing the seat, I continued onto the table of the picnic bench (I am proud to say I did not step or sit on any of the food I had on the table). At this point the leader of the warthog duo was climbing onto the seat I was previously sitting on while the other was coming around to the other side. In order to prevent myself getting into the middle of a warthog sandwich, I jumped onto the opposite seat and onto the ground where I began running to the back of one of the tents. As I turned back to see if the warthogs were following me, I got to witness the first warthog devour what was left of my sandwich. I decided it wasn’t worth fighting for, so I continued to the back of one of the tents and began screaming for help. After a couple minutes, someone came and began throwing things at the warthogs and stomping at them, which apparently scared them enough because they ran away (not without taking a look through my plastic bag of snacks). When I saw that the coast was clear, I came out from behind the tent to find one of the warthogs taking my plastic bag away (I decided he could have it). I took what was left of my snacks and went to the bar area where I ended up replaying my story for a few guests of the camp site. 

After this adventure, I’ve decided I’ve had enough warthogs for a lifetime. 

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