Sunday, November 3, 2013

Safari Massage

Today we sit by the hotel pool waiting for the solar eclipse, which will be total just north of Kampala.  With a pinhole and a sheet of paper we succeeded in projecting the image on a pillar outside our hotel. It's not as good as the image on TV but it was exciting to experience.

Yesterday we ventured into the countryside for a day of adventure.  We packed into a small bus and headed east on the road to Kenya.  As we left Mukono we began to see a rural view with hillsides of tea plantations and acres of sugar cane. Flowered trees and coconut palms sped past the window.

There were also many buildings.  Rows of stores display clothes, furniture, building materials, food, telephones and airtime.  Banks offer micro loans, and all kinds of schools compete for students.  Churches and mosques occasionally face each other across the road. We stopped briefly at a roadside fruit market to buy fresh bananas.  
Our road passed through Mabira Forest a cool region of shadowy woods.  As we crossed the Nile River bridge we refrained from photographing the impressive dam to avoid a confrontation with the soldiers stationed by the sign. 

From there our route went deep into the country to visit the site of the martyrdom of Bishop Hannington who died in 1885.  As we turned off the main road we saw many small compounds with two to four round grass covered huts. Children chased the bus to see what we might offer them.  
Finally we came to a church where we met the priest who serves the people of the area.  He joined us for a ride up the steep hill to the spot where Bishop Hannington lived when he came to the region.  
At the top of the hillside was an impressive group of granite boulders.  He told us the story as he led us between the rocks.

Apparently the Bishop lived there and preached to the surrounding population from a large granite platform.  
As they gathered to listen to him about 50 were converted to Christianity.  When the local Buganda king, the Kabaka, heard of this preacher, he sent his soldiers to kill the Bishop.  Hannington was tortured and killed at a place which they call the Martyrs' Stone.
Of the 50 followers, 48 were also killed.  The two who escaped, buried the Bishop's body, and told the story. 

The view from the top of the hill was spectacular.  The whole vista of the countryside was before us, with a clear but distant view of Lake Victoria where we headed for lunch.
After reaching Jinja we recrossed the Nile.  There off the road was a small resort with a pool, restaurant and sleeping huts.  Since we were starved, we fell on the buffet lunch with enthusiasm, then crossed the lawn to reach the small wooden boats on the edge of the lake.  The lake, of course, was Lake Victoria, the largest of the lakes in the Rift Valley, bordered by Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Our guide motored us out into Lake Victoria.  Many different species of birds perched on the edges of the fish farms.  

Small wooden fishing boats hunted in the rich waters of the lake. Victoria is very deep, like many of the Rift Valley lakes.  And it is rich in fish, especially Tilapia.  

And then we headed to the source of the great Nile River. The Nile is not the longest in the world (that is the Amazon).  But it is the only major river in the world that flows north.  
As the river leaves the lake the water swirls as the current gathers speed.  Originally there had been a set of falls as the water from the lake fell into the river, but the dam we had crossed down river changed the flow.  Now it is harder to see the source, but still visible at the water surface.  

The ride home was our Safari massage.  Much of the road was either unpaved, or felt that way.  Great clouds of ochre dust swirled through the windows, coating our hair, mouth and lungs with red particles.  We bounced along through lines of traffic, finally arriving at our hotel, tired, hungry, and very dirty.  

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