Mzungu In The Rain

by Lena

Uganda gave me everything I wanted ~

Dust , Mud  & Rain …

but…

All I wanted was a little rain, so the sky could clear up for photography.

However, what followed was a disaster and a tragedy.

Thunder and lightning took a few lives at the nearby village.

I prayed that my tent, which was in the open area on the top of the mountain with nowhere to hide, will somehow endure all the rain and lightning…

Everyone I met at Nkuringo Gorilla Camp has already left. I still had a couple more nights and then off to Entebbe, to catch a plane to Morocco.

This is a rough map of my solo overland 1200 kilometers journey through Uganda..

I felt really sad leaving the camp.

On my last evening there, children came to say goodbye, they sang and danced. I joined them too with another girl who worked at the camp.

I was able to make a donation to those kids and buy a few of their handmade crafts.

One girl, kept holding my hand … they call her Precious…

buying crafts

In the morning, before my departure, Everest showed me where those kids go to school and their local library.

If you want to help these kids by donating books, clothes or any other items please contact Everest at Nkuringo Gorilla Camp. They also have volunteer programs available.

I decided to make my journey back to Entebbe by a different road; First, getting on top of Boda Boda with my new friend, Everest, from Nkuringo camp ( 30 minutes ), then hiking towards Lake Mutanda ( 1 – 2 hours )

canoeing through lake Mutanda. ( 3 hours )

Then hike up to town Kisoro, ( 1-2 hours ) and spend a night there. At 5 in morning take Post Bus to Kampala ( about 12 hours ) and catch a local Matatu from Kampala to Etebbe ( 40 minutes ). Spend 1 night in Entebbe and then fly to Morocco, with 1 night stop in Dubai.

~

After a ride in Boda Boda me and Everest stopped at the local village. I spotted a group of young boys playing pool. Asked them if I could join them for one game. My opponent was a 10 year old boy, Christmas.

He crashed me and earned himself 5 bucks.

I always wanted one of those “Marlboro guys” from commercial to carry me in their arms.. well, that didn’t happen, but there is 1 “Marlboro man” in Uganda who agreed to carry my bags for me …

” Marlboro Man “

I don’t know how these women do it…

Seriously, she’s barefoot, walking uphill, balancing a really heavy bag on her head, has infant on her back and one running after her…

So stop complaining, ladies!

My 3 hour canoe journey through Mutanda was a bit nerve-racking… all of my bags were in a half tilted canoe and it looked like it was going to rain again… My whole life was in those bags; money, passports, laptop, phone, camera, lenses..

But it truly was a very beautiful and peaceful place…

We listened to music on Everest’s phone and sang. I was shocked to hear him sing ” This world is not my home ” song

The timing was perfect! As soon as we arrived on the shore, it started raining.

Everest

We hid under the roof of some nearby house. In about 10 minutes the owner came back home. She was nice enough to let us all in and wait it out…

When we reached Kisoro I dropped my bags off at the local guest house, paid for my stay and went with Everest to bus station.

If you want to buy tickets from Kisoro to Kampala on Post Bus, it’s better to get them in advance. Once again, decided to purchase 2 seats for $20.

I said goodbye to Everest and went to bed early. The next morning I woke up at 4 am, had breakfast and headed to Post Bus station.

It was still dark and I felt a bit uneasy that our driver has to drive before sunrise.

People in Uganda are very religious and it happened so that a local priest was traveling with us. He asked me if I could read a passage from the bible and I had to politely decline, stating that at 5 in the morning I don’t function well and reading is the last thing on my mind. He understood and didn’t mind. When he read a prayer before departure everyone said “Amen”.

Yes, perhaps traveling in the dark through Uganda is not the safest option, but I did get to greet a very beautiful sunrise…

It was a very long journey. Even harder than the one I did a few days ago.

The most brutal thing of all, was the fact that our bus driver was a really mean and rude person.

In 12 hours he stopped only 3 times and should have stopped about 6 or 7.

I did get to sit and talk with Eunice, the lady I met in Post Bus traveling to Kabale.

She also said that she will call the bus company and complain about this driver. Yes, being white in Post Bus, especially a woman who is by herself, is not something locals are used to… but when I got in a fight with a driver and screamed after he refused to stop the bus, because of “nature calls situation”, the whole bus stood by me like one and yelled at him to stop… he was ignoring everyone…

The situation was getting serious, because by that time there were other people who needed to get off the bus. He eventually agreed to stop, because one guy was so mad, that I thought he’s going to actually hit the driver.

As I was walking out of the bus, said to our driver ” You have no heart! ” and people who heard me, clapped.

I won’t ever again dare to complain about a 12 hour flight with available bathroom, snacks, drinks, a blanket and a pillow!

Post bus sells more seats then there are actual seats, that’s why I bought 2. In about 3 hours a woman with 2 young children walked into a bus. One of her kids had nowhere to sit, so I told her to leave her little girl with me. I played with her and shared my food. After a while, she fell asleep on my lap. People couldn’t believe their eyes, seeing her sleep so peacefully on my lap for hours and don’t mind the fact that I’m a stranger with a different skin color.

When she woke up, she walked to her mom for a bit and then came back to my seat holding a snack, she wanted to share her food with me… I was deeply touched… This is a child who has so little and yet, wanted to make sure I had food…

wow.

I did thank her with a handmade necklace, that I was wearing, which I bought from kids in Nkuringo…

she loved it…

In a few hours it was time to say goodbye..

They left.

I will never forget her smile.

Sometimes I think that my soul is made of all those pieces of love, that were once given to me so generously and so unconditionally, by people from all over the world.

All that is good in me, is a gift, from people like her…

I arrived in Kampala at a rush hour… perfect time for Boda Boda!

Unforgettable adrenaline rush!

Found a local matatu and made my way towards Entebbe Backpackers for 1 night.

After about 30 minutes I was almost there. Hopped on a boda boda like a true professional and we headed straight to the office of Entebbe Backpakers…

As I was getting off Boda Boda, tired and covered in dust, I heard ” Elena!!! ” , thought to myself ;

“ok, 12 hours in a packed, hot, post bus with an asshole for a driver, could be the reason for me hearing things .. “

Then I heard it again… ” Eleeenaaa!! ” … I looked left, then up…

Oh … my …. god..

What?!!

Alex!!?!!

Alex in Bwindi

Yep, it was Alex, from Lake Bunyonyi, from Nkuringo Gorilla Camp and now here…

Sitting with a beer in his hand on the roof of he’s overland truck…

He wasn’t even supposed to be in Uganda anymore, but plans changed last minute.

This is insane! We never told each other of where we were going to stay in Uganda… but every single time we seemed to bump into one another at different camp sights.

Since he was traveling with he’s group by overland truck, he always arrived at a place faster.. so he said that I’m stalking him! We laughed!

Well he might have arrived at all those places first, but I seemed to snatch the best / last room before he could. ( Ha! )

I took a shower and then joined him and he’s friend Manu for a beer. We talked about road and told stories from our adventures. I felt like we all knew each other a very long time. Then we headed to a local bar to watch Real / Barcelona match. Alex was upset, he’s from Barcelona… Real won that night.

I bought him a shot of rum in order to cheer him up. We all stayed for a bit longer, played pool and talked.

The next day I was to leave for Morocco.

In the morning I had breakfast, checked out and sat on one of the couches waiting for my ride to the airport. Alex and Manu joined me..

I hate goodbyes…

It was also close to my dad’s 10 year anniversary of his death… I really don’t feel good close to 1′st of September.

Really emotional time for me.

So the air was heavy…

Me and Alex had something very important that bonded us for the rest of our lives…

Something that made us even closer than some people that we know for years from our “normal” life…

Road

With all it’s dust, unknown, heartache, ups and downs of a nomad’s life…

Alex was going to say goodbye and then go into town..

We all exchanged numbers and emails and they both walked me to my car.

A very nice gentleman, who worked at the camp was waiting to take me to the airport.

It started raining.

I waved one last time and left.

Through tears I told the driver that I don’t want to leave Uganda and my friends…

~

Alex who was coming back from town, knew that now there is a room available that he can book for himself and enjoy a hot shower and a bed ( he had to sleep in his truck )

So he approached the desk and asked for that room that just became available…

They told him;

” We are very sorry, but it has been already booked “

They showed him the book..

He looked at it and said “This is impossible! Elena Levon left this morning and is already on the plane”

~

Flashback to -

I waved one last time and left.

Through tears I told the driver that I don’t want to leave Uganda and my friends…

And the Universe said …

Your wish is granted, Ms. Levon!

I handed my flight info to a ticket agent’s hands, about to board a flight to Dubai, where I was supposed to spend a night before my departure to Morocco…

I really didn’t want to go to Dubai!! That place is last on my list of the places I want to see… and still is! ( not my type of place at all! )

As I said “Yes, the ticket is cheap, but I really don’t want to go to Dubai! .. “

And the Universe said …

Your wish is granted, Ms. Levon!

( be very careful what kind of thoughts and wishes you send out into the Universe… they become your reality… )

Lady looks at me and says ” Sorry maaam, but we don’t have a ticket for you… “

What?!! I was in shock.. I had 2 planes to catch..

As it turns out there was a huge mix up on the part of the online company where I booked them..

Long story short, I was able to call from the Emirates office to Mr. Bond

and tell him that we need to try and figure out a way out of this mess…

The thing is, there are no direct planes from Uganda to Morocco and most of them go through Dubai. Planes were all booked for the next 2 weeks…

Mr. Bond said “You REALLY didn’t want to go to Dubai”

~

When I returned to campsite, Manu was in shock… I asked him not to tell Alex.. wanted to see he’s reaction.

I got my laptop and went to Manu’s room. He and I worked on computers for about an hour trying to find available flight options that will get me to Morocco.

Manu found me a great deal …

From Uganda to Cairo, then board a plane to Madrid, Spain , 1 night layover and then to Morocco.

It was good that company didn’t charge for the Dubai and Morocco tickets..

This option was even cheaper than the first one..

And I was going to be in Madrid! I have never been in Spain before..

Neither Mr. Bond, we are meeting each other in Barcelona after my 1 month in Morocco.

But now I’ll be in Spain first…

_

As I was walking out of my recently booked room, I saw Alex sitting outside in disbelieve..

We laughed for a long time, especially after he told me that he was trying to explain to the manager of the campsite that there must be a mistake and that there is an available room!..

We spend the next couple of days hanging out together.. our crazy trio … Me, Manu and Alex.

I traveled with Alex to Kampala for 1 day on top of … wait for it…

yes,

an overland truck!

You see, Universe, always plays tricks on us.

It was fun though, the group wasn’t there yet, it was him, driver and he’s co-worker from the same company,  Javier, a very cool guy who loves everything extreme and has great stories form the life on the road.

Alex opened the roof a bit and I stood there, watching the life go by and letting rain drop freely on my face.

But still, I would never trade my Post bus, matatu and boda boda stories for comfort..

Alex and Javier could sense that something was not right..

I stayed in the hostel and wrote this post.

The hardest one of them all.

When I got in the truck, I broke down. It was 10 years since I lost my dad. Alex didn’t say anything, he just hugged me for a few minutes and helped me cry.

Alex and I did eventually part in Kampala and he took the bus to Nairobi.

We said goodbye and I once again got in the truck with Javier and we headed towards Entebbe.

Early in the morning I went to Entebbe Airport ( again )

and got on the plane…

~

Alex’s last words to me were ;

” Call me if you need any help, they don’t speak English in Madrid.. and anyway, I’m sure I’ll bump into you in Barcelona, cause you’ll somehow board the wrong plane… “

~

“What can go wrong is always much more interesting than what goes right !” – Paul Bowles

_____________________

 The woman behind the words …

” Memories “

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