We stayed in Fort Portal at the Le Jus Centre, a
Catholic hotel, and I had African food including chicken
stew, matoke, vegetables and potatoes.
I went on a walk with guide Jerod in Bigodi Swamp, a
bird sanctuary, the next morning. The female assistant
guide, who is in training, was helpful, too. Apparently
this walk is better ifyou start at 7am than 9am as I did,
but I was not disappointed. The persistent tinker bird
caught my ear as we walked down the road to the trail.
I heard, and hope I recorded, great sounds of various
birds, all of which he could name. I recorded and saw
Blue Turocos. I also saw a small green snake sliding
up into the branches. It was a non-poisonous snake.
Ugand has a lot of poisonous snakes, like mambas and
cobras, but they usually stay away from people. Since
they don't see, they can't very well attack unless
they are provoked.
We ended up at a treehouse with a nice view and a huge
moth in the roof.
The walk went longer, but I had to leave to get to my
newly scheduled Kibale chimp tracking to make up for
the one I'd missed. The female guide said next time
she would be the one to take me. We ate lunch prepared
by women at Bigodi, fish, and other standard African
foods. It took a while to prepare as usual, but was
tasty when it arrived. I also had time to buy some crafts,
a string with four small colorful stuffed animals, a
small adungu (bow harp or guitar) and some other things.
The chimp tracking that afternoon in Kibale Park was
quite a hike! Chimps move fast and my guide Alex and
I spent a couple of hours tracking them with no luck,
through thick rainforest jungle, sometimes wet ground,
and threatening rain most of the time. He moved fast
and sometimes let branches hit me after he'd passed,
but I can't criticize his dedication in finding the
chimps. At one point he left me for a few minutes to
find them, and I was a little afraid, but saw monkeys
and was able to record with no extraneous noise which
was nice. The bird that calls "it will rain" was singing
most of the time, but it never did rain. We crossed
the road a couple of times, and found foot prints,
but no actual chimps. Finally he called the office and
got Larry to drive us down to another area too far to
walk. We saw chimps running across the road! We got out
and followed, and it was a while before we heard them.
The guide said the stridant tone was an alarm call --
maybe one of them had been separated from the group.
We followed it and then saw 3 males. They had found food
(figs and leaves) and were eating, and making happy
noises. They let the others know they had food, and
it was good. The others may or may not join in that
situation, depending on what they had found. We were
lucky - four others came on the ground, so we had a
good opportunity to seem them arrive and climb up into
the trees to eat. This tracking was 3 intense hours
and I was glad I hadn't given up after 2.
Later I recorded near one of the crater lakes, and saw
a red-billed bird on a branch above the water. Something
was near the top of the water - turtle? I was too tired
to climb down and see, and pointed my mic down there.
Something was leaking from the car, Larry noticed, at
this stop. We went back to Fort Portal to the gas
station, and it was unclear if the vehicle would make
it back to Kampala, but he thought it probably would.
It could be better fixed there.
We had dinner there and I had malo for the first time,
cooked millet which is kind of like a huge dumpling
that you break off squishy parts of and dip into stew
It was very good.
It was a fast drive back to Kampala, and the truck did
fine. There were a number of police checkpoints, but they
usually waved us through. This was my longest tour on
this trip, and I was sorry it was ending already. It
would be nice to spend several days at most of the parks.
We were back by 11pm, and I was glad to be able to say
goodbye to Jim, and exchange stories. He had been
(accidentally) in the riot Friday, but emerged unscathed
by going with a local person to the village behind,
which was safe! Tension has been building since the
elections, and the demonstrations turned into riots
in 2 districts of this very large city Thursday and
Friday. 10 people were killed. I hoped I would not
have to cut short my trip. I feel protected in the TATS
space where people know what is going on and understand
the local language news. I didn't go out the next Monday
but there were no more problems. Demonstrations have
been on Mondays and Thursdays usually, but writing this
on May 9, things settled down last week, as people
here had predicted.