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A Trip to Uganda
Friday, 24 October 2014 Written by Magdalena Mišković

One of the things I wanted to experience in Africa was safari. Maybe some of you wonder why, since Africa is supposedly teeming with animals, right? Well it’s not quite like that, as animals are one of the things we have misconceptions about when we talk about Africa. Animals don’t roam around freely, except for some insects, lizards, rats, goats, cows and, of course, birds. If you want to see a lion, an elephant, a buffalo or some other ‘unusual’ animal, you’ll have to go on a safari.

A Trip to Uganda

And so one Saturday the three of us (fra Ivica, Iva and I), all headed out on safari to the neighbouring country of Uganda. The first thing you encounter when attempting to enter Uganda is a whole “ocean” of paperwork that the driver of the vehicle has to do. You have to arm yourself with patience and do whatever the ‘higher power’ (more commonly known as ‘the law’) says. When we finally crossed the border, I breathed a sigh of relief because, of course, I had forgotten my ‘Yellow Card’! I was afraid and didn’t know what I would do if they asked for it and wouldn’t let me pass. But everything went OK and we were soon on our way towards the small village of Rushooka.

As soon as you enter Uganda, (if you’re not well informed, as was the case with me), you immediately feel a strong urge to warn the driver that he’s driving on the wrong side of the road. You see, it’s very strange to be driving on the right side in Rwanda and immediately after you cross the border you have to turn everything upside down in your head and continue on the left side. But you get used to it in less than half an hour and it becomes normal.

Looking out at the sides of the road, one notices a big difference - while Rwandans use every inch of their land, Ugandans don’t. In my opinion, it’s much nicer to see cultivated land than just plain grass and trees, but I guess it’s much easier to sit idle, play an entertaining game or simply wander around aimlessly than to dig in the sun, right? Maybe I have a totally wrong impression, but comparatively speaking, I think my Rwandans are far more diligent. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, they are also poorer.

The land in Uganda appears more fertile and Ugandans seem to have more money. I first noticed this by the clothes worn by the locals. There were no children here who walked around in rags or without shoes. And looking at the houses, I noticed that they weren’t weathered like the houses in Rwanda, but instead they looked even cute and pretty. Even those who had limited construction knowledge had made their houses into real little beauties.

In this part of the country there is no hunger or thirst because they have huge tea, banana and pineapple plantations. And not a kilometer passes without running into someone who has literally overloaded their bike with bananas. We also “danced” during the entire trip almost because the road is an “Oh my God” experience. You simply cannot tell if you’re driving on tarmac or dirt, on potholes or a smooth surface, through mud or dry red earth.

I’ve never swallowed so much dust and jostled around so much in my entire life. Since the road was of such a “high” quality, we had to cover our baggage with tarpaulin so that everything would not become a deep shade of red. After a while our jeep also got a new red look for free and its tires were covered in beautiful red mud.

But despite encountering all those things so different from Rwanda, the trip was lovely and the safari was a truly new kind of experience. Just the view from the hill on the safari grounds was like looking at paradise overflowing with lush green growth. The animals, which inhabit the area, fill it with life, and the lake provides extra scenic beauty. The only unfortunate thing is that it is sometimes difficult to see all the animals that live there, and such was the case with us as well. Although we went to look for them at noon and again at 5 PM, we were never lucky enough to see the lions. But we did see a whole lot of other animals, from the biggest elephant to the smallest bird.

One of the wildlife certainties, as you drive to the safari grounds, is the opportunity to see groups of baboons on the road. It’s actually customary to stop beforehand and buy some bananas from the roadside sellers to feed to the baboons. I was so intrigued to see them all, from the biggest ones to the smallest ones, still clinging to their mothers’ bellies.

Apart from the safari, we also visited two novitiates and the women living there. They were all very kind, but the ones I was most impressed with (and even spent a night at their place) were the nuns at the novitiate, including Sister Marta who is from my native Bosnia. Those women, both the nuns and the novices, were so relaxed and cheerful that it was a true delight to be in their company.

The almost three days spent in Uganda were magical, but Rwanda still holds a special place in my heart – from the well kept roads, to the people who work hard for their bread, with cheerful children and with earth that doesn’t paint me or my friends in red.

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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