In the morning we went on a game drive through the park. After the game drive, we returned to the lodge, where many of us went for a lovely swim in the pool. After lunch, we packed up and headed out. We were on our way to Soroti. Shortly after leaving the park, we drove through an IDP camp. It wasn't obvious to me that it was an IDP camp, as it looked similar to many villages we had seen, but we learned that the houses were much denser in the camps then in the villages, and there was no variety in the houses. The children were all eager to see us, and as we found everywhere in Uganda, were very interested in having their pictures taken, and then looking at the pictures on the camera lcd. Craig turned the screen on the video camera so the children could see themselves as he was filming them, and this was also a big hit. Before we left, we distributed the rest of our snacks among the children, and then continued our long drive to the hotel in Soroti.
We came to a bridge going over the Nile where there were more rapids, which were quite pretty. As we passed over the bridge, the professional photographer in our group, Richard, snapped a couple of pictures of the water. When we got to the other side of the bridge, some soldiers standing there directed us with their guns to pull over. One of the soldiers was interested in Richard's camera, and the others argued with our driver. Richard, of course, refused to give up his camera, and just showed the pictures he had taken to the soldiers so they would understand he was not taking pictures of them or anything besides the water. As it turns out, they didn't want him to even take pictures of the rapids, so his showing the pictures did not alleviate their concern. After a couple of minutes, two of the leaders of Pilgrim came back from the other cars (which had not been stopped), to talk to the soldiers. It was interesting to see the way that William and Patrick interacted with the soldiers compared to our driver. We could not understand what any of them were saying, since they were speaking in the local language, but we could see their body language. It was a bit scary, but very interesting. The driver was obviously upset and was arguing with the soldiers, but William and Patrick were very mellow and soothing in their body language. Eventually Patrick and William convinced our driver to drive us up to where the other vehicles were, so that they could talk to the soldiers alone. Later we found out that the soldiers were not allowing people to take photos (something that people in other cars had been told would be the case), and that Patrick and William were trying to convince them to let us take the pictures without bribing the soldiers. And they did. What everyone in our car had not been told earlier (but people in other cars had been) was that we were only crossing the bridge to see the falls (we were not actually going in this direction), so we were very surprised when we were told that we were going back over the bridge, and that we could now take pictures. We thought, oh, no, forget the bridge and the pictures, let's just keep going. But, since we were going back, Richard had the driver stop briefly by the soldiers, and he gave them a packet of cookies we had, and thanked them.
As we neared Soroti, it got quite dark, and then the inevitable happened; we blew the other front tire. The spare had not been repaired, of course. There were two other vehicles in our party, and amazingly enough, one of the others was the same model as ours, and the spare tire for it fit on our truck. It was a pretty crappy spare, and I had visions of it blowing as well, but luckily the rest of the drive to Soroti was uneventful. As we drove into the edges of Soroti, I realized how dark the countryside had been. We had seen houses, but most of them were dark, now as we entered the outskirts of Soroti, I saw a strange sight. House after house was lined up, one after the other, each no larger than an American closet, and each with a single light bulb hanging in it or in front of it, and most apparently without doors, or just with a curtain for a door. We arrived at our hotel, and I was greatly surprised by, and thankful for, the good condition of the hotel.
WikiGallery by Stefan Schimanski at http://1stein.org
|Baboon - very short video||Baboon - longer video|
|Lions sauntering away||Kids chasing the Van|