Four of us (Katelynn, Lauren, Nishtha, and Frank) made plans to go on a Safari this past weekend. Early Saturday morning, after a late night experiencing Jinja's nightlife, we crawled into a van, still half asleep, with Bernard and our driver, Charles who never stopped smiling. Three hours later, I awoke to the sound of Frank calling out, "Um, excuse me..." as steam poured in and around the van. Charles pulled over and, still groggy, we all climbed out of the van. We sat down on the side of the road as Charles went to fetch water from a nearby village while Bernard paced nervously. Soon, Charles was pouring water into the car and trying to start it. The car wouldn't start, and soon black liquid started pouring out of the tailpipe. When Charles, smiling as big as always, finally agreed that we needed some help, Katelynn jumped in the middle of the road to flag down a car. The car stopped and took Charles up the road to a nearby town, where he picked up a small flatbed truck to tow our van to the town. It was decided that another van would leave Jinja (three hours away!) and come to take us the rest of the way.
I'm not sure if it was because we were still too tired from the night before or if we were all just used to "African time," but we all simply got out of the van and said, "Okay," without so much as a groan. As usual, Nishtha began her search for food and soon we were sitting down to a huge meal of rice, beans, and banana mash, served by a woman cooking in large pots in the alley between two buildings. Good food and friendly people made us think that a 3 hour wait in this little town wouldn't be so bad.
...SIX HOURS later, the new van showed up. We hopped in to finish our journey to the campsite at Murchison Falls. We finally arrived sometime around 7:00pm. We visited the falls and then went to the campsite for some stir fry and goulash for dinner. After spending a grueling day together, the four of us bonded over some good old truth or dare (the only one to take a dare was, of course, Nishtha, who sang "The Wavin Flag" in front of the entire campsite).
Just before heading to bed in the tents, the lightening began and we spent the night in tents, listening to the echoing thunder as rain dripped on us. Somehow Nishtha and Frank slept through it all.
In the morning, we woke up early to head to the ferry which was out of commission. The battery was broken (we will definitely start carrying car and ferry batteries with us at all times!). On top of that, the rain still hadn't stopped. Finally, the ferry was fixed and we were on our way to the game drive.
Pretty soon, the rain stopped and the four of us and Bernard stood hanging out of the moon roof throughout the Safari. It was just magical seeing all the animals in their natural habitat. After the game drive, Lauren, Katelynn and Frank were ready to board the last ferry back across the Nile but, Nishtha, Bernard, Charles, and our VAN were no where to be found. Turns out, Bernard needed to buy more minutes for his cell phone, Charles needed to flirt with a woman, and Nishtha... who knows. Luckily, Charles arranged for a boat to pick us up on that side of the Nile and even had our lunch delivered. We ate as we went on the river boat tour where we saw hippos, hippos, and more hippos. The boat driver, James, took us right to the bottom of the falls. We got out of the boat to stand on a rock in the middle of the river to take pictures and enjoy the view.
Nothing could ruin the journey except... kidney stones. Well Lauren's kidney stones that is. But after a long journey..(and we mean long) we made it to Kampala where we were able to find a hospital that provided Lauren with the care that she needed.
Nishtha...who is always thinking about food, asked Charles if he knew of any good Indian restaurants around Kampala. So after a pit stop at the hospital, we stopped at this place called Nando's. Which turned out to be a place owned by an Indian(maybe) but served no Indian food what so ever...just pizza and chicken. While we were ordering our food the two random gentlemen that we picked up along the way waited patiently in the car probably thinking " why did we ever get into this van with the mazungus?!" As we got back into the car we picked up a pastor?...apparently Charles knew him. We finally made it back to our hotel around 1:30 with Dad aka John waiting with cold water and a big hug for each of us.
It was all worth it at the end!
-Katelynn, Lauren, and Nishtha