A little bit of Pader and SAFARI!

Trip Start Nov 11, 2008
Trip End Feb 19, 2009

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ria Beirl!

here is just a little bit more on Pader (I'm not entierly sure what Susan wrote).

Before we came on this trip I asked God quietly if it wasn't to much trouble could we please see some thunder and lightening while we were away (Hana returns to childhood dreams of being storm chaser, inspired by the movie Twister). The name of the area we were in was KOTOMO meaning rain and thunder. it truely lived up to it's name. Every evening all around the plains there would be huge flashes of lightening in giant forks and loops! also thunder would rumble and echo everywhere. On one night we looked up to see that we were in clear patch but that darkness was literally rolling over and covering the stars. For the first few days it just drizzled occasionally which was welcoemd to keep off the heat and the dust. Then one afternoon it poured. For 30 mins it rain as heavy as I have ever seen rain in my life. we were stuck in the kitchen (rolling chapatti actually) and outside a river was forming. Although I do love storms they are slightly more concerning at when home is a mud brick hut with a dirt floor and grass roof. Our stuff however remained dry and the ankle deep mud around the camp vanished quite quickly. The children all ran out into the rain and laughed and danced and jumped in puddles. the goats were less impressed and huddled under our huts.

I will now spin the yarn of the bathing shelter.
when we first arrived in Kotomo we discovered that the bathing shelter we had been allocated was less than ideal. bathing shelters int he area are built by covering stick frames with grass. This one used very short sticks and gras was applied sparingly. Also the entrance was ridiculously narrow and it doubled as a local pee hut (the toilets were all the way over at the school leading to the coining of the now popular phrase I have to make a trip to the headmasters house). The first nigth I used it I discovered that I could see over the top of the shelter and a local pig tried very hard to come in through one of the walls. The boys decided they would build a new one. The next day while I was learning some animals from the kids they started drawing in the dirt and wavign their arms then all promptly vanished only to return later with a huge load of branches and what looked like small tree trunks which they had retreived from 'The Bush'. Susan and I were very impressed. Later on I accompanied them on a 2nd bush trip to retrieve rope (made by peeling the inside of bark fibre) and little sticks. We then constructed a bathing shelter which was tall and beautiful and clean and the joy of our heart.

Another thing we learnt was the wonder of cooking Africa style. this involved a charcole stove (although for some of our cooking day Benjamin had to chop fire wood while i kept re stacking it under the pot to stop it tipping over). Benjamin was my cooking partner and he taught me how to make Irish Potatoes (like a potatoe stew) and chicken. The chicken had arrived the day before and spent the night in the kitchen. It escaped a little in the morning but didn't get far cause it's legs were tied. I won't go into details with reguards as to how the chicken ceased to be alive and came to be a very tasty dish in our pot but you may now refer to me as Hana the chicken slayer (or slaying assistant I just handed benjamin the knife really). Also on the list of things we learn't to make was mandassi (like fried bread things), beans of verying flavour, beef stew and much much rice!

The trip home from Pader is long. About 9 hours but many of those are spent on roads that are less than ideal. They are also spent in the back of a truck. Our truck seated 5 but we had 6 in the cab the whole way and between 5 and 12 in the back depending on the number of hitch-hikers we had at any point. we also had muchy sugar cane and almost a chicken. near home it started raining so we had to pull a tarp over the back of the cage and hold it down while driving. the trip was 90% good untill I wasn't paying attention to one of the bumps and craked my hip on the bar. i now have an enormous black bruise over most of my left hip. It's really quite impressive! But despite the beating we feel like we broke down some serious cultural barriers so it's score 1 for the car, 0 for my hip and 10 for white girls everywhere.

The next day was debrief at the base but the day after we went with Sharon and Benjamin and his mum (all three of whom live on base) to the Murchison Falls Wildlife Park to go on Safari!!!!

we arrived at the gates to the park, and were asked by an official guy if we'd seen a dead hippo. we were incredibly startled, and said we hadn't, then learnt from him that some person/car had actually hit (or 'knocked' in his words) a hippo not far back from along the road! poor knocked hippo!
Just meters in from the gate we had seen elephants and girraffes and dopey beasts and warthogs. the sun was just rising as we entered the park and had our first awesome and complete emersion experience in the wildlife of the african savannahland. wow. Dopey-beasts were new to us... they have really long faces and wide set eyes so they look silly but also run from lions then forget the lions and stop and then either have to run again or get eaten. Warthogs are by far the coolest animal on the face of the planet. nuf said. we saw mongooses! this made Susan very happy. Futher on we saw buffalo which are absoluelty huge and after much chasing and calling all the guides we also saw lions. first we, and several other vehicles full of eager toursits, parked for ages on the raod to stare through binoculars and camera lenses at the jsut visible spectacle of 3 lionesses! one carried meat in here mouth, and they ran a bit and played then walked a bit further a way. Then all the cars drove off. we drove away for a while.. at this stage we were sitting on the roof of the car (in the luggage cage, which is fun and good for animal spotting, but painful on the bumps). then we turned aroudn and went back to the lion spot (very sneakily). then to our delight, we drove off the road and towards the lions spot! wegot really really close. i mean SO close! we had to be super fast because you aren't supposed to do that, but the 3 lions were within metres of the car, playing, and then looking at us. We even heard one sneeze! now that's close encounters!

Lunch was a picnic acompanied with a cold soda from the resort (soda was all we could afford). It was lovely and included pringles!!!!! also jam and bread which excited Susan very much. After lunch we headed down to the Nile where there was a family of huge baboons ready to climb on the car (or in it if they got the chance). They seriously wanted into our car in particular, as we had foolishly left bananas in plain view in the front window. they are quite large and threatening animals, despite their comical backsides! one mother and baby monkey were there - soo cute. We then went for an amazing boat ride up the Nile to Murchison Falls. on the way we saw innumerable hippos and masses of huge crocs. the creepy crocs were jsut sitting by the riverside, with mouths open (it cools them down). this water is definately not for swimming in!!! The falls were so beautiful aswell. On the boat was a bird watching society who continued to get really excited over things we couldn't see until we realised they were pointing to tiny birds! At one point a massive elephant was eating right next to the shore. When we got back to the dock, one of the hippos had waddled onto shore and was grazing just nearbye! they really are hilarious creature - huge pink/grey bloated looking, fat and cute and enormous! the one on shore was nonchalently munchign while tourist took snaps from just 2/3 metres away. i think Hana has finalyl conquered her fear of hippos.

We drove out via the delta where the Nile meets Lake Albert. On the way we had to pull onto some grass while a massive bull elephant strolled past on the road. Ask dusk was settling a Leopard ran past on the road!!!! We only saw it breifly but it was huge!!!! giraffes were also crossing the road just in front of oru car several times.

all in all the safari surpassed our expectations in every way! i think every type of wildlife we saw within metres of us. some of it (hippos, bushbuck etc) we saw by the thousands. Wow! coolest safari ever
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