Just wanted to touch base and let everyone know that life in Eastern Africa is great.
I have spent the last two weeks in Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Rwanda and am about ten minutes away from driving back into Kenya to slowly commence the next leg of the journey which will have me travelling south through Tanzania and the Serengeti for a much needed rest in Zanzibar.
Participatory camping is great because it keeps you moving, but I am ready for a few nights where I am not in a sleeping bag on a mat sleeping on a rocky hill)
As for the countries so far driving through them all is very interesting because you can see history everywhere you look, in Uganda the buildings haven’t been rebuilt after the bombings, in Kenya the roads are the worst I have seen because the political instability has failed to allocate any federal budget to the infrastructure, in Congo I think it speaks for itself , not quite the rainforest paradise you want to ever visit, but Rwanda, only 16 years after genocide seems to be the most developed out of the four.
I have a feeling alot of it is due to the international aid that came I once the Hutu vs. Tutsi massacre was finally brought to light in 94 but it has beautifully paved roads, and as sad as it is to say, but you can judge the level of a countries progression by this, everyone was wearing shoes.
Throughout this trip I have realised how lucky we are for clean water, shoes, shelter. I have spent a few days at various nurseries and orphanages and its really heart warming to see children who think seeing a white person is the best thing that ever happened to them and will fight with each other to see who can shake your hand, yet they are all shoeless (its cold here at night) have shaved heads due to lice and cant be offered candies because the lack of any dental facilities wont be able to prevent tooth decay. That being said they are happy, adorable and wave at you from the street when you drive by as though you were the queen.
In Kenya, we camped on the Masai Mara reserve and were welcomed into a village to experience a day in the life of type of thing. It was shocking to see that the images from the world vision ads actually exist, there’s naked children running around in fields of cow dung covered in flies while mom is protecting the 50 goats they own and the dad is out being a man. Here children are married young, right after circumcision (13 for girls and 15 for boys) and alas they start their lives with no electricity and a 2 km walk away from drinking water. There was a school built by this village (cement bricks and all funded by Aussies and Canadians) but it isn’t being used as education isn’t a prime concern for the tribe, and even if it was they are used to being taught at home and don’t need a cold building with windows to change the amount of learning that they are doing.
In Congo (where the Gorilla Trek happened) its a different story, there is still a very strong militia presence and though it may have not been my first choice of countries to visit, its eye opening to see a country that has had such a vicious cycle of wealth and poverty in the last thirty years.
Rwanda was probably the most emotional day, but also the most educational, we visited a church from the 94 genocide that has been left in its original condition with blood splatter, clothing and personal items from the 1000 Tutsi’s that were locked inside before it was set ablaze. However despite the hideous display of humans’ inhumanity to each other that was taking place only a decade or so ago in Rwanda it is a country that is full of hope and determination to survive and overcome its 3 years of Hutu vs. Tutsi massacre… its shocking once you’re there to read proof through telegrams, emails and documents about how our world in the West and the UN was fully aware of what was going on and the scale to which it had escalated a good three months before action was taken… really sad that 1 million people had to pay with their lives because we’ve adapted a laissez-faire attitude to the happenings in this continent.
On a happier note though (sorry despite my joy in travelling I do have a fascination with history and why genocides continuously have happened since ww2 – think Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda – its heartbreaking) but on to happier things, I went white water rafting in Jinga Uganda with seven of my travelling friends, and we decided to do the wild route down the Nile (there was a mild option) and took off to battle grade 5 rapids. Our raft captain appropriately nicknamed us team suicide as he said most people don’t specifically ask to have the raft flipped but alas we went for it and flipped three times over our 31 kilometre journey. Once on a rapid called Easy Rider (the irony) which was a grade five and all 8 of us were tossed under water, some the current pushed through 100 ft, others like myself and two guys got pushed under the boat and into the rapid only to surface as the raft was landing from it’s aerial flip… Fun times I tell you, nothing like a raft to the face to make you realise that helmets are ALWAYS a good idea. Nevertheless we continued and hit some big rapids flipping again though not as violently, and then the rain started. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to paddle 6 km on a lake as it’s hailing and winds are whipping across your face. It was tons of fun but as the winds were so strong it took as twice as long to reach our next rapid because the wind was blowing us backwards. By this time the river was in full force and our last rapid called “the bad place” became so violent we ended up having to skip it and in the pouring rain hike (while carrying our raft and paddle ) about 40 m to avoid the rapid and finish instead with an easy grade 3.
After that it was smooth sailing, a bbq overlooking the Nile and we headed back to our campsite for a few upside down drinks. (they have a kayak that is placed into the beams of the ceiling that has travelled down from Cairo to Lake Victoria (the length of the Nile) and is now placed at the bar for us extremists to hoist ourselves up, sit upside down and take a shot of Zappa (local anisette type liqueur) good times after being attacked by a raft.
I will finish here as its sunny, I want to tan and I am far to tired and sore to be bothered to place any order or structure into this post
I hope you’re all well and had a nice safe long weekend.
ps. I crossed the equator twice
Lil Miss Planet