Day 16: Kisoro, Uganda – Big Brother’s African Brother

Day 16: 13 August 2002 4:30 pm

The group experience a rough drive to Kisoro on the Uganda-Rwanda border.

 

After listening to Roberta tell us that she found reading "Animal Farm"
disturbing because she understood it, and that most people don’t realise
that it is not just a story about animals, I was more than ready to get on
the truck for once.

We left at 10:00am and nothing had prepared me for the road conditions. No
wonder the group that failed to see the gorillas didn’t want to go back.
The road started as a red dirt track and then turned into a fine dust, like
cement powder, and the truck was filled with dust clouds. It is 80km from
Lake Bunyonyi to Kisoro and yet it took us five hours to complete the distance.

It was the first time that I had a sense of foreboding about the trip as
going to Rwanda is considered a little risky. Already the people were no
longer friendly but demanding. Children threw rocks at the truck and
screamed "Give me money, give me my pen." One boy ran alongside the truck
for over a kilometre asking for money and another jumped up and held onto
the back of the truck as it passed. We stopped at a viewpoint for Virunga
Mountain, and the locals were demanding money for photos.

The landscape is spectacular with the three volcanoes (Mt Muhabura, Mt Gahinga
and Mt Sabinyo) providing a stunning backdrop. We finally arrived at Kisoro
covered in dust. I resembled a dishevelled hag with a permanent orange
tinge to my clothes. Kisoro is the pits. The Virunga Hotel is described as
the best place to stay in Lonely Planet and has a camping area. We pitched
our tent and then discovered we could get a basic room for Ush 5000 more.
Considering the campsite has no security and the locals were already
checking out our tent, we took a room. Yet again, we had no information
about this option from our tour leader, we had to find this out for
ourselves.

We took our tent down and moved into our room complete with cockroach.
Tom and I have started taking our vitamin tablets, as there has been a
lack of veggies in our diet for days now. Quite a few of our group were
commenting on this today – veggies get a raw deal on this truck. We don’t
eat red meat as a rule, yet on this trip I’ve had to, otherwise I would be
losing even more weight than I already have.

Shirley concocted a gorgeous evening meal of bangers and mash and stuffed
peppers. She is one of the most generous people I have ever met and is so
upbeat. She is also highly organised and an accomplished cook.

Taking a room proved to be the wrong move. We settled down under our mozzie
net and as I was drifting off, Tom said he could hear something. A sweep
of the torch revealed giant ants. After that I was completely paranoid and
imagined cockroaches and ants crawling over me. I did not get a wink of
sleep and I’m going back to the tent tomorrow – I never thought I’d say
that.

Positives: For the first time I appreciated being on the truck on an organised trip. We would have found this part of the trip impossible/difficult to do independently, and I felt safe inside the truck.

Negatives: An incredibly rough and dusty ride when you begin to question whether the hardship is worth it.

 

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