‘On — and off — the many wet roads of Uganda.’
I wish I had a nickel for every time my mother told me that I “wasn’t made of sugar, so I wouldn’t melt.” Maybe I’d have enough money by now for new rain gear.
Because ours sure got a workout on our African Adventure. In fact, we’re home now and I’m still reminded of how wet it was. My boots are gunky, my clothes are moldy-funky. My socks? Let’s not speak of my socks. You can probably smell them from wherever you are. And it wasn’t even the Rainy Season.
But back to that “not made of sugar” deal. If that’s the case, then why did I attract so many ants? Tiny, nasty little bitey ants. The kind that swarm all over you if you’re not super-careful — and if you’re on a hiking trail where you can’t see the little buggers. (Not like in this video, where they’re on a road in plain, avoidable, sight.)
Nope. If you’re on a trail, particularly a wet, steep, slippery trail, they have a habit of sneaking right into and under your clothes and chomping away. While you flail helplessly and try desperately to keep your balance.
The ants can be nasty and itchy, but not dangerous, like, um, snakes. (We saw a particularly gruesome serpentine specimen one day, but I did not take a video or even a picture of it. Didn’t stick around long enough. Me, not the snake.)
Speaking of danger, we did have a truly scary moment on the road from Entebbe to Masindi. It was raining (natch) and this huge, overloaded truck (similar to the one pictured stuck in some mud at the top of this post) skidded out of control on the non-paved clay-like road surface and barreled right toward us. In order to avoid said truck, our van driver, the Intrepid David, went into a controlled skid of his own that almost — just almost — launched us over the side and into Ugandan Oblivion. Or, if not Oblivion, into a ditch where we’d end up suspended upside-down by our seatbelts. (A condition I have, in fact, experienced — and never want to try again. See ‘Here’s Your Trouble’ for gory-yet-hilarious details.)
But back to those trails. They were steep and they were muddy, but they were where the birds were. (Especially this very cool bird called the Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill.) So that’s where we went.
It was a thousand feet down to this swamp where the bird hung out. (Yes, we saw it — and its nest; with a baby bird head peeking out! I’m pretty sure The Dude snapped a picture. I’ll share it if I can ever get it off his camera.) And it was a thousand feet back up too.
Rare bird seen and noted, steep trails slipped on and surmounted, we staggered into our rustic lodge (the kind where electricity was, um, optional) and toasted our soaked boots by a roaring fire. Kind of like marshmallows, only not stuck on sticks, and not so sweet smelling.
But back to that mud-bound truck pictured at the top of this post. It was indeed stuck — could still be there, for all I know — and blocking our trail something fierce.
What to do, what to do? Well, David the Intrepid Driver had a plan. He would go around said truck, but to do so would mean plowing through a vast (and deep) Mother of All Puddles. (He knew what he was talking about — he donned knee-high rubber boots and tested it, almost sinking to his hips. Honest. I saw him take off a boot and pour water out of it. Yuck.)
So. Anyway. He got us all to remove ourselves from the vehicle. (He didn’t have to ask me twice), then gunned it.
You can see the result right here:
Vehicle safely — yet extremely muddily — maneuvered through the muck and past the stuck truck, we were on our merry way to yet another adventure. Speaking of which, I’ve got to load up the Toyota and get myself to the dump. Er, ‘Recycling Center’. Heady times.
Amagansett, New York. June 2018