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Inpenatrable? pah

Rachel - Bwindi

Bwindi Forest National Park is one of Uganda’s main tourist destinations for the INPENATRABLE FOREST and the mountain gorillas that live inside. But because few local people want to go there there is no public transport. But we managed to make a deal with a pickup truck (matatu) driver to take us to a nearby town with everyone else, but continue to Bwindi with just us for a smallish fee.

The matatu drivers are like the cab drivers in that they will pack more people and goods than you can imagine possible onto the back and everyone is made to wait until he’s satisfied. In this case we had several layers of bags of flour and cement which made for comfortable seating at least. Bags and jerry cans were strapped to the side of the truck and with 7 people hanging over the edge on each side, 5 or so at the back, 4 standing up at the front and a wobbling conga line of 5 men in the centre we set off.

Being this close to your fellow travelers you tend to build up some rapport, especially when you’re effectively saving the life of your neighbours by hanging on to them at every corner :) As we got close to the end of the line the crowds thinned out a little, the bottle of banana wine got passed around and everyone was laughing at the man who no matter where he sat or stood for the whole journey ended up sitting on someone’s toes (usually Dave’s). While my job for the journey was to try and keep the cheeky young drivers assistant from bothering the sweet young girl next to me by resting his head on her lap at every opportunity. At one point we had to push the truck up a hill which was also quite bonding. It was a long dusty, bumpy journey but we had a great time.

The forest in Bwindi managed to survive the ice age which wiped out most of Africa’s other rainforest so it’s Old, dense and the vegetation is very diverse. One of the reasons to see gorillas here is that you have a chance to push into the jungle on your way to find them. Dave and I had to settle for a rather more tame 3 hour’s waterfall walk but we still had a flavour of the terrain. Little shards of light can penetrate the canopy and light up the moss covered vines and tangles of ferns and monkeys and bird call from the super tall trees. It’s an atmospheric place for sure.

The last time we were pushing through forest I think I must have been brushed by a plant which left me with a painful blistering purple rash on my neck. At the time I wasn’t really sure what it was and wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything more serious like a spider bite (shudder). Fortunately there was a district hospital within walking distance so I made the trip the next day and was seen by a young English lady doctor who gave me some cream and then we chatted abut the Rwenzori mountains. There are only four doctors serving 60,000 people in five districts which sounds like a phenomenal effort. The most amazing thing is that the hospital was founded by one doctor who raised some funds to build the first clinic and ward and has slowly been built on over the years and now they have a midwifery ward, 2 surgical theatres, a men’s, a women’s and a children’s ward. But still only four doctors. Even so it was a calm and organized place. Even not so nice things like rashes can throw you into some interesting places. (by the way, it’s cleared up now – thank you lady doctor)

Posted by rachndave 02:52 Archived in Uganda Tagged forests

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Thanks Rachel!

Reading these updates has been helping me ease myself back into being in the office after the Christmas / New Year break.

Good to hear you're both alive and well.

by Gulliver

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