We cycled off around 8:00am (now bright), bidding adieu to those there, including Morence. (I had brought a book along as a gift for the orphanage, which I presented to Morence. Maxine was shocked that, with how little I had with me, to top it all off I had a book in there as well.) Christine stayed behind to true her back wheel.
We cycled down (literally) dirt roads, greeting people as we went. When we’d stop for directions or rest, crowds would gather. After a short cycle down a paved stretch we began again on another dirt road that had wonderful vistas of valleys and various crater lakes. We paused to wait for the others and shared a couple of my Powerbars (they don’t go a long way when you do that). We were all getting very hungry and running low on water. I got a nice splatter of cow manure on my face while blasting down a hill… had to wait about ten minutes before I could stop to wipe it off. At one point I slid into a mud puddle, dousing my legs and left pannier in red mud. A bit of a shame considering I had cleaned and lubricated my chain this morning.
At one point I came down a hill and found myself face to face with about fifty shirtless men standing at the side of the road, all of them holding spears. It came as a bit of a surprise, especially since I was alone — Doug and David were somewhere up ahead, and Maxine and Christine somewhere behind. I felt too awkward to smile or wave, and they didn’t either. David later told me they were hunters, but I couldn’t figure out what they’d be hunting — I wasn’t aware of there being an abundance of wildlife in the area. Either way, it was a very odd experience.
Nearing noon we pulled up to a nature reserve/resort/restaurant and plopped ourselves down at a table in the shade. We ordered some food and then walked down a path in the forest to a crater lake. David, myself and Maxine took a swim — I left on my shorts, t-shirt and socks to give them a bit of a wash while I was in there. Apparently these lakes are too cold for Bilzharia. Either way, there’s yet another rule broken from my doctor (the others: ice cubes and water drinking, fruit, and likely others). The meal came, which was two pots of beans and matoke, eaten with ‘ketchup’ — tomato sauce. It was wonderful to finally eat, and delicious, too. I drank down two pops.
Christine had a flat tire, so the group of us sat down and watched some Colobus monkeys (black and white with african porn loooooooong fluffy tails) jumping around in the trees. We left through a ‘short-cut’ — a very narrow uphill path just a few feet from a big drop that I was terrified of toppling down. Eventually we just heaved our bikes along for a while until we hit the ‘main’ road.
The not-much-wider main road was almost completely downhill and it took quite a bit of concentrating and banging around. My chain came off, but it took me a long time before I noticed because I was coasting down the path the whole way, riding the brakes. I’m glad I don’t have a low-rider front rack (or any, I suppose) — some of the ruts were quite deep. At one point we had to carry our bikes across small planks lying through a mud-out… fine for me, but Christine had to slog hers through the mud because it was way, way too heavy to lift.
The path led to a wider road. We followed it to a resort overlooking a crater lake where we stopped briefly. David heard — much to his surprise — from a women there that someone would be meeting us at the Safari Lodge. (The women at the lodge was white, and very attractive. While David was talking to her Doug and I exchanged a look and grinned at each other.) We kept on the road and it led us into Kibale National Park. While there were a few gruelling uphills, most of the way was down — much of it at break-neck speed, the odd rock ricocheting off the bike. There was nobody in the forest, and it was quite cool and shady. (Christine’s two front panniers fell off at the start, and she had to fix them. A not-so-good day for her, I think.)
I finally caught up to Doug when we came out of the forest — he had slowed down to find the Safari Lodge. (The others were well behind us.) There were a bunch of buildings in the village though and we had to backtrack to find the place because it was nestled in some hedges and trees. Safari Lodge is run by a man named Charles Lubega, a gourmet chef who retreated here from the city. He does all of his cooking over a wood fire. Incredible.
The rooms were certainly rustic; cement and stone, with no lights (well, I found a candle in a pop bottle) but clean (I pretended not to see the lizards on the wall in Maxine’s room.) The service, however, was second to none. As soon as we sat down at the… gazebo? … from our long ride we were given a tray of cold drinks and juicy slices of pineapple. Shortly afterwards there was hot water ready for us to bathe with. As I washed Maxine and Christine pulled in. (I’m constantly amazed at how much weight Christine is hauling.)
As we rested up (Charles came into my room to make sure that I had a candle) and unpacked, dinner was ready. We had a nice, hot meal of vegetables (potatoes, rice, carrots), coleslaw, spaghetti, flat things (they were good), rice and peanut sauce. Yummy. Dessert was a pineapple/banana cocktail in a margarine container. Mmmmmmm.
I went into the room afterwards and set up my mosquito net in the dark — largely fumbling around by flashlight glow. When I came back out, everyone was resting in the darkness of the night. A Peace Corps Volunteer, a young girl with a shaved head talked to David, Nathan and Maxine about Africa and the work that she’s doing. I just listened, content in absorbing everything around me.
NOTE: I think this is one of the drawbacks when I travel with a group — I have so much company that I don’t find the need to reach out to strangers. During my four days in London previous to this trip I would have leaped at the opportunity to talk to this girl.
We waited for the drumming and dancing that David had arranged until 9:00pm. They didn’t show up until we had gone to bed. At one point a voice called into our room, “Hello? Prepare for music,” but in the end David sent them away since it would mean getting the others up to take a poll to see if everyone was interested. (And that would have meant David getting up himself. I was a little disappointed, but didn’t say so.)
I slept under my net, often getting tangled in it or moving it from its place. I spent a while trying to figure out if the buzzing I heard was coming from inside or outside the stupid net. David, my roommate, sawed wood for half the night.