Saturday, July 5, 2014

A pack of pachyderms and ... (the Bate's Motel!?!)

What do you do when you are surrounded by 60 or more elephants?

You simply stand in awe...and snap as many photos as possible even though darkness is grabbing a quick hold.

What do you do when a bull elephant blocks the road?

You wait, of course!

He was busy eating, and our repeated revving of the engine and whistles and barks had little effect, other than prompting an occasional perturbed glance our way.

So, we waited.

We came across this fellow during our twilight drive through Murchison Falls
National Park in northwest Uganda as we were trying to leave the park just as
the sun was about to leave us for the day. But we had to wait until he decided
we could proceed. About 15 minutes later, we came across an even more
amazing experience: a herd of about 60 elephants, who didn't seem to mind
that we were driving in the midst of their evening meal among the trees
as darkness set in.

Ahh, Uganda!

In the three weeks since our return from our visit to the States, life has been a bit of a whirlwind. The elephant encounters came during part of what made it a whirlwind: the visit of two former students and the husband of one.

But the whirlwind, work aside, really began at the end of the first week back when we said good-bye to good friend Prof. Jim Kelly of Indiana University, who headed up a group of IU students on an study-abroad experience in Uganda, and 11 of his study-abroad students, who spent almost a month at the Daily Monitor. They were here because, when they couldn't go to Kenya (because of a ban on student travel because of terror threats), Jim asked me if I could accommodate some of his group.

"I'll take 'em all," I replied.

So the group came to Uganda, interning at the Daily Monitor working with some of our folks on a series of stories on HIV/AIDs. The first series kicks off tomorrow, Sunday, July 6.
The IU contingent. That's IU Prof. Jim Kelly at the far right.
And that's the view from our pool.

Just before they left, Joyce and I hosted a party at our place. The night before the Saturday gathering, we invited Scott DeLisi, the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, and his wife, Leija, to walk the "two doors" up the hill to our place, and they said, "Sure!" We thought they'd drop by for a few minutes, but wound up staying for the entire three hours at the poolside BBQ (of grilled marinated chicken and goat, which, BTW, was marvelous -- the food, the fact Scott and Leija stayed and enjoyed themselves, and the IU folks -- who surprised me with a special gift: a plaid bow-tie, in IU colors, of course. Quite fetching, I must say.)

That night, shortly after the BBQ, we headed to the airport for some more special guests, two former students, Sarah (nee Hill) Green and Lauren Beatty and Sarah's husband, Chris. More about their visit in the next blog except to say they got a good sampling of Uganda, including a bit of "Uganda's revenge" (you figure it out) and that bull elephant in the road and Nile Specials (a beer) on a boat on the Nile. How appropriate.

At Murchison Falls with our Kansas visitors and friends,
Edridge and Kabs (Kabagambe Swamadu, our driver
and good friend). With them, from left, Sarah Green, me,
Joyce, Lauren Beatty and Chris Green. The falls are hidden by
Joyce's hat. And, yes, if you come, bring a good hat.
Sarah, Chris and Malcolm have Tilley hats, which all
three recommend.

More on them in the next installment, though the next part of the whirlwind began after dropping 'em off at the airport for the 30-hour trip home: some reality about living in East Africa. I got hit -- hard -- by an intestinal bacterial infection that had me heading home early most days and missing one day completely.

I knew I was sick when two young staffers, each independent of the other, came into my office to say: "You're looking older. Are you OK?"

And those who know me know I'm really in distress by this: I haven't had a beer since the dinner before that Monday night ride to the airport to put our Kansas friends on the plane home.

But all is better now, thanks to "cipro" (ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic) that seems to be helping. But no beer (or our usual Sunday martinis). Maybe on Monday. Stay tuned.

But if you've ever had a hankering to visit, check in with Sarah and Chris, and Lauren. We're sure they'll have lots of advice -- mostly good and encouraging, I think. Just don't ask Lauren about "another beautiful day in Uganda" -- at least after travelling five hours on a dirt road, a couple of bumpy twilight hours looking for wildlife, no food since breakfast, and thinking she was going to have to spend the night in the "Bate's Motel" with a serial killer named James.

But, for that part of the whirlwind, you'll  have to wait until the next installment.

1 comment:

  1. Hoping you are enjoying Uganda as much as I am enjoying Kansas. I admit most of it is still very strange to me but I am getting there.