Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Safari, Part One: Vexation

After our ruling on Wednesday, our lawyer said, "if you want to go on a safari, the time is now." Mom was thinking that since she came all the way to Africa, a safari should be in the schedule, so we decided to make a plan.

We decided to call the Parra Lodge and make a reservation, but they were very booked, so we could only get a room for Sunday night. We secured a car and driver (our usual driver Eddie is away working with a group of visiting missionaries) and prepared for the big adventure.

We left at a little after 5 on Sunday morning. It was early, so we were tired and a bit grumpy, but we made it through Kampala with no traffic and seemed to be doing very well in our quest to make the 12 o'clock Ferry to the lodge. It was essential that we make it by 12, because we had tickets for a boat ride to Murchinson Falls at 2:30, and the Ferry runs at 12 and 2.

Around nine we were in Masindi, which is the last main city before you head into the park. We had 84 km to go, albeit on rough road, but things were looking up. We drove for a little over an hour, and hit another town, but there were no signs for the Ferry. Odd. So our driver pulled over to talk to some taxi and boda drivers congregated on the side of the road. After a brief conversation he let us know that we had just gone an hour and fifteen minutes on a terrible road in the wrong direction. He had completely missed the turn to the national park. We were a little frustrated, but hopeful that maybe we could make it. We were a bit irritated because it was his responsibility to know the road, but at that point there was nothing we could do. We turned around and went back, found the correct road (difficult because there are very few road signs), and made it to the front gate of the park at around 11:15. With 68 km to go there was no way we were going to make it by noon. Then the ranger informed us that the road in the park was so rough it would be an hour and a half to travel the distance. We were so exhausted, so we took a short bathroom break (the bathroom at the ranger station even had toilet paper, a seat toilet, and a place to wash your hands- amazing) then we got right back into the car and set out along yet another very bumpy road.

We did get to see some animals on the way in. A number of baboons apparently just sit in the road, so we saw lots of those as well as some very interesting birds. We got to the Ferry around 1 or so, and it was hot. Africa hot. And there were so many people waiting. We paid and got in line, and actually got a decent spot in the car line up, so it looked like we would at least get on the Ferry. There was almost no way we were going to make our boat tour though, as none of us had eaten anything more than a granola bar (or in Tommy's case Cheerios, which he now loves) all day, and we needed to eat before we did anything.

The operator took his sweet time getting the Ferry ready, and didn't start loading until after 2. Then a bunch of trucks that were obviously together (and hadn't gotten in line) tried to block everyone else from getting on so that they could get their whole group on board. Thankfully, our driver got aggressive and we made it on.

We got across and to the lodge at 2:25. We were famished and exhausted. It looked like we had missed our boat ride and lost all the money we had paid for the tickets. We had just spent 8 hours in the car, apparently for nothing. Things were looking pretty bad.

Stay tuned for The Safari, Part Two: Bliss


Tom said...

How many parts are there. I have already heard Part 3 or 4 or will it be 5? It will be fun to here Bliss.


Jeff said...

The Safari will be told in 3 parts. Part 3 is quite exciting...even if you've already heard it. You definitely don't want to miss part 2 either.