Slip slidin’ away


‘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.

These boots, freshly-applied with waterproofing goop, are made for stompin’. Through mud and puddles and unspeakable gunk

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.

Me, soaked to the skin (which is being savored by teensy ants), and trying not to slip off a cliff

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.)

Even elephants slip on those muddy trails. This was one huge skid mark. I should have included something for scale. Like a yardstick. Or a freshly-caught fish

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.

The Dude and Alfred ponder the mists from, like, a thousand feet up. Yup, there were gorillas in there. Birds too

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.

At the bottom, where the marsh (and the baby African Green) was. It was pouring; Dude was smiling

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

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22 thoughts on “Slip slidin’ away

    • Ah yes, the bitey ants! They did indeed (almost) put me right over the edge. But, like you say, the birds — and the stories — were worth it! Thank you for chiming in xoxo

  1. josypheen

    This sounds soggy, but sooo fun, I mean apart from the bitey ants. I wish we were less tasty for ants as those buggers can really swell up!!

  2. Deborah

    Wow, you are one brave lady. I don’t think I’d be able to put up with a trip like that. I think I’m able to put up with a lot of things other people wouldn’t think of doing like staying in a cabin in the high desert in New Mexico most of this summer with no running water or electricity. But trekking in the rain in Africa with mud, biting ants and scary snakes, not sure I’m up to that. You’re a trooper.

    • Hey thanks, Deborah! No one who knew me Way Back When would ever believe I do this crazy stuff! A cabin with no running water sounds pretty adventurous to me!!!

  3. We ‘elephant-skidded’ 1000 feet up to be with our Gorilla family in Rwanda, and then skidded down after our encounter. My oldest hiking shoes were perfect for that trek, and remained in Rwanda, along with my socks and pants, post-trek… there was just NO WAY I was bringing any of that muck home with me! Glad you made it home safe & sound!

    • So glad you got to get up close and personal with some of our cousins too (!) Smart move to leave your mucky stuff behind. Yup, I made it home — safe and stinky! xoxo

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