My First road trip: My life in Uganda

Kampala has been good thus far but I’ve been longing to step away from the city so that I can take one of those infamous road trips everyone raves about, either to a national park or to a beautiful landscape. Well, for my first road trip, I chose the latter: a beautiful landscape…destination Kabale, Uganda. The Kabale road trip was very peculiar, frustrating and visually captivating to say the very least.

How did I find out about this trip?

On Facebook, there are 3 main expat pages which cater to any and everything from selling cars, real estate, puppy donations and the least obvious, road trip advertisements. The pages don’t advertise in a creepy Craigslist kind of way but in a more expat friendly approach in hopes to provide more information and shed light, if you will.  I contacted the tour organizer and asked for specific details about the trip. I informed him that I was definitely interested and to add my name to the list but I’d give a definitive response shortly, once other plans were solidified. I had also considered a zip lining trip that some of the ladies I‘d met from the church mentioned previously. I thought it would be pretty interesting if I went zip lining, considering my fear of heights! Either way, it would of been nice to be around friends from the church. The Kabale trip, on the other hand, I expected to take solo and decided to try that one, instead. If you were to ask anyone I initially mentioned this trip to, they can tell you that I was a little apprehensive about taking a weekend trip alone with complete strangers for that matter. Then, I had to take a quick moment for reflection-I just moved across the world to another country, heck another continent. Kristen, get a grip…you’ll be fine. Adapting, adjusting and cultivating, it’s apart of life. (This was the pep talk I gave myself when I became doubtful. I suggest you do the same when you start feeling a bit doubtful about your potential and the things you said you’d never do…

So, you remember when I mentioned that part of my trip was frustrating? Well, here goes the start of it. So, we were scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. on a Friday. I was able to get a ride to the main pick up spot. Two other ladies were picked up along the way. Once we arrived, we were met by the rest of the group. At that time, everyone began scratching their heads because one vehicle was not nearly enough for the amount of people present. So, the tour organizer said that the other car was down and he needed to arrange for additional transportation. What! Didn’t you think of that PRIOR to 6 am in the morning when we’ve already paid our money and are ready to get the show on the road…on time?? No, I guess common sense just ain’t that comment and yes, I said (ain’t). I’m still baffled but we waited for this “additional” transportation for over 2 hours!!! Not a good start to my first solo road trip in Uganda! I sound like a hypocrite in some aspects because if you know me, you are aware that I am not the most timeliest person. I guess when it comes to a business, however, I’d expect for one to act in the most professional way possible…which accounts for being on time!

Once we got started, we all began sharing the same frustrations. Things were becoming more and more comically frustrating, if that’s even possible.

So we made it to our first stop: The Equator. Wow! It felt amazing to literally stand in the middle of the world!

As you can see, everyone is enjoying a photo op! Afterwards, we ate our breakfast options which was covered under the tour fee. The options included one piece of chapati bread and a beef samosa, two popular staples in Uganda. If you want extra, too bad…! You must pay on your own or get over it! Shocked? Not really. That is just one of the comically frustrating moments. Oh, and you can’t forget the souvenir shops!

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So, the next stop was the Lake Mburo National Park.

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Once inside, we went straight over to Lake Mburo to take pictures. It was a beautiful view, nice and serene. However, everyone kept telling me to just wait…you haven’t seen amazing yet!

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Then, we were off to see a few of the animals at the park…no not any lions, tigers and bears, Oh my! But, we did see a host of others. I wish they were a bit closer! I love animals of all sorts so this was a real treat! It was great to see one of God’s most precious gifts in their natural habitats!

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So the next adventure was SUPPOSED to be a boat cruise along lake Mburo but the tour guide unprofessionally informed me that it won’t be happening and that it was part of the promotion. Wait a minute? Did he just blatantly tell me to my face that he falsely advertised this tour just to get more people to sign up?? This was complete foolery at its finest! The boldness of people these days. Geesh! At this point, everyone’s still a bit perturbed about the late start and the half breakfast…but this news put the finishing touches on the masterpiece.

Ah well, this experience has definitely proved that research, a sense of humor and an open mind are compulsory when taking road trips or any other trip for that matter.

On to the next adventure: Kabale which was another 3 hours in the car. I’m so glad that our driver Arnold knew what kind of music to play. Some of us fell asleep since it was getting late. We arrived around 10 p.m. that evening. Everyone either shared their rooms or had their own (like myself). It was set up like a home stay and the rooms had their own bathrooms and private areas. Then, there was a common sitting area and dining room. The lady was very pleasant and seemed to be good friends with the tour leader. So, we ate a traditional Ugandan meal, sat around and talked and then everyone went their separate ways. The lady had some very interesting reads so I grabbed a book and plopped a squat on the couch and read like the nerd I can be at times, which is perfectly acceptable at this stage in the game until…I became exhausted.

The next morning…I arose to this! What an amazing view! I love the countryside. Its’ so peaceful. This was right outside of the home stay.

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The home stay even had their own farm area!

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Before getting on the road to head over to Lake Bunyonyi, we had a nice and light breakfast.

Before arriving, we stopped at this cave to take pictures. I don’t remember the name of the cave but it is supposed to have a lot of history there.

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The driver backed into the cave to turn around…this is me and Esther making a run for it! Ahhhh!

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In the mysterious cave…

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Ahhhh! Freedom!

I also wanted to get a few photos with the beautiful, lush and green background.

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After all of this, we proceeded a bit further to the lake. On the way there…this is what we saw in the city.

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Dubai is literally everywhere, huh?!

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What a rainy day…

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Finally, we had arrived!

Pure beauty, amazing landscapes, lush greenery and abundance. The resounding feeling was peace.

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I felt at one with the universe at that point. No joke! It was such an unexplainable peace and stillness in the air as if God was confirming something.

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For me, I received that he is always there and his boundless favor, grace and mercies are ever present. I also received that I need to take a bit more time for self and reflection, two things that I haven’t done lately as I make every attempt to keep myself preoccupied with other things so that the worrisome thoughts that flood my head in regards to leaving my son in the states won’t be so overwhelming.

Back to basics…

So this was such a beautiful place! If you ever have the chance to visit the Pearl of Africa, you MUST visit Kabale! I wouldn’t promote it if it wasn’t worth it. Heck, I think all my adventures are worth it!

The next adventure was a hike in the woods. Yes, black girls hike, although I almost broke my neck, foot and wrist at the same time! I wasn’t prepared for the steep hills and dips. In a crazy way, it reminded me of life… in an abstract kind of way. It was fun to say the least and a crazy type of workout! We also had time for another photo op. There was a professional photographer on the trip so we took advantage…if you know what I mean.

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Later that day, we actually took a boat ride. Wow! So that wasn’t just for promotion! LOL (inside joke for whoever was on the trip with me and is reading this right now).

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The boat was nice, although I was freaked out a bit when he said that we were in one of the deepest lakes in the world. Hell, what if we tipped over??? Anyways, we make it back safe and sound. Either way, it felt great to be on water and listening to tales about the wonders of cray fish! You should research the “facts” when you can.

Later that evening, we chilled-we ate, drank and were very merry. I am so glad this trip turned out to be some sort of fantastic, although it didn’t get off to a great start. Yes, there were several nuisances along the way however, it really boils down to what you make of situations. I could have sulked the entire time by complaining and simply being disappointed. Then, if that was the case, I may have missed out on the true beauty and physical landscapes and the resounding messages that I received the entire weekend. I may have missed out on bonding…and using my sense of humor to its fullest potential. It’s hard to apprehend the outcome of something when you don’t know what you’re getting into so I am proud of myself that I took a chance and that I continue to take them throughout my life. Chances are opening up doors, my mind and new possibilities. If it wasn’t for those chances, I wouldn’t be as far as I am today. I’m growing, learning. being productive and discovering more about life and self. If you find the opportunity, take it. If a chance comes, go for it. When life happens, accept it, learn from it and move on.

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And…that folks was my trip to Kabale. Until next time, happy traveling!

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