Today and tomorrow are our free days in Uganda and will give us a great opportunity to see a little bit of Africa. We venture off to Murchison Falls and Lake Albert to see some wild Africa.
The day started at 7:00 where Kells, Simon, Doreen and Doreen (because two Doreen’s aren’t confusing at all) picked us up at the Adonai house in two safari vans. These vans look awesome. 4x4 vans, pop top roofs, rock sliders and heavy duty armor plating on the side. I could tell we were headed for an adventure and I was right!
Just not the kind of adventure I was anticipating. Murchison falls is about 6 - 8 hours away from Kampala so it was going to be a long drive. The vans were comfortable and roomy. Honestly I wanted one for myself at home until… it all went downhill.
We noticed an odd smell in our van (and not the Uganda food type either). More like burning rubber. Suddenly we noticed our van was slowing down. Slower and slower, our driver didn’t speak much so he didn’t say anything. Then I noticed he turned the van back on! That’s right, back on - as in it had turned off. The van kept shutting off intermittently and he would just turn it back on. Well he kept doing that until the van started smoking from the engine - in the middle of nowhere. Let me correct that. In the middle of nowhere in the middle of AFRICA.
The van had overheated, toast. Normally. Normally a car that overheats so much so that it spews black smoke out would be toast, but this is Africa. So here is what you do in Africa. Take a case of bottled water and pour the water bottle by bottle on the engine to cool it down and fill the radiator up with water and set off on your way. Sounds like a plan.
After letting the van cool down using all our drinking water, it started back up. 9 lives! So we headed out again, passed a small town and don’t you know right at the top of the hill the van dies again. I’m noticing a trend here. Van dies, let it coast, turn van on again. Drive up hill till van dies, let it coast again… for a few miles this went on. Up a hill, “I think I can I think I can…” down the hill… until the van gave up. We coasted into a gas station that had a mechanics bay. The mechanic poured more water in and on the engine - no dice, didn’t work. So they took it in for surgery. Meanwhile the other group headed out from the gas station. To a restaurant down the road - 45. min down the road, while we stayed back with the van patient. The mechanic brought out his tool box which consisted of wire dikes and went to work.
Diagnosis: bad everything. Solution pour water on it and tighten the hose. 2 hours later, an impromptu frisbee game (thanks Beach Hut Deli - those frisbees have been clutch) we set out. This time with a new passenger. Our own ride along mechanic. All was well, the van had been resurrected to life again and was driving great… and then it died. And started smoking again. By this time we were back, you guessed it - in the middle of nowhere. Broke down on the side of the road.
We waited, and waited. We saw a small village church down the road having service and we could hear them singing. It was pretty cool!
The other van came, he had dropped the team off and come to get us. We unloaded our van, loaded it into the other van and drove off. But the door flew open so our bags spilled over the highway. We ran to pick them up before anyone ran them over.
I told you we were going to have an adventure.
We arrived at the restaurant where the other half of the team was. Time for food! We ate we laughed we waited. We now had a problem. Each van held 8 people. There were 15 of us, so what do we do? We can’t just hire a van from anywhere this trip was months in the planning!
Doreen and Doreen found a willing taxi driver to take us the rest of the way. Mind you it’s a few hinder kilometers (maybe a 100 miles). The taxis was nowhere near as nice as the broke down van but at least it ran.
So off we go! To see the wild and explore the unknown! We drive and drive and drive some more. Then the pavement ends. The road is rough, then it gets more rough. So rough I’m not sure I would even take my truck on it rough. For about 40 minutes we drive on this road rushing to catch the ferry that crosses the Nile to take us to our hotel. After the 40 minutes the other van zooms up past the taxi van and stops. The drivers get out and talk and their voices are getting louder. We don’t have a clue what they are saying but I don’t think they were chatting about lunch. Our taxi driver gets back in the van and calls someone, he’s talking loudly and using his hands as he talks. Doreen and Doreen inform us our taxi driver was taking us to the wrong ferry - in the opposite direction.
By now it’s 4:30pm. The last ferry leaves at 6:00 and we have 70 miles to go, on dirt roads. Remember that part about taking my truck on those roads? 70 miles of that - in less than 2 hours. We did the math a few times… it wasn’t possible. But we were assured it would be fine, and we would make it. We drove those vans the fastest I’ve ever seen on the roughest roads I’ve seen in a LONG time.
I told the team that leading up to the trip our faith would be tested, and it was all so that we would be ready to believe the impossible when we were here. Well, like when Gideon told the sun to stand still, we made it to the ferry at 6:55. That’s an hour late, BUT there was one more ferry for the day, and it departed at 7:00! Miracles do happen!
After 3 roadside breaks downs, a gas station frisbee game, a great lunch, an VERY bumpy van ride in the wrong way. A longer and bumpier van ride in the right way 12 hours later we arrived! We’re Staying the Paraa Safari Lodge and this place looks amazing. It’s right out of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. I’m pretty sure they modeled the hotel after the ride. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way we are excited to be here. Tomorrow we go on a game ride and see Murchison falls.
Hopefully we’ll have a good adventure tomorrow also, but maybe more of a sightseeing adventure…