American Press Travel News–Excerpt from Bob’s Book: Africa on a Pin & a Prayer”–Camping and Traveling Through Uganda, Africa, Part 1
During our travels to this Northern area of Uganda, we came close to the border with Sudan and arrived at a prison. The prison warden allowed travelers in to a special store area, where handmade items crafted by the inmates could be purchased. These hand crafted items were made by prisoners, who were incarcerated for every crime known to man; including political crimes against the immediate, yet temporary rulers of the government (Idi Amin took over and had everyone killed that did not agree with him a bit later on after we were long gone). These inmates, just like the license plate makers in American prisons, earn their keep by making tribal animal skin covered drums, spears, medicine masks, African musical instruments and woodcarvings.
During our travels through, over and along the dusty, rutted roads of this area, we stopped frequently to look at exotic trees and bushes such as the giant and curious cucumber tree, with large inedible cucumber like fruits hanging down to the ground, alongside the road.
We saw several varieties of flowering cacti; they showed us a rainbow of colors that seemed to have been painted by Picasso.
Driving along, we would suddenly come across giraffes that towered above some of the acacia trees, which they fed on. Herds of zebra would suddenly race across the road in front of us, and we would come to an abrupt stop and marvel at the sight of thundering hoofs kicking up dust all around us.
Occasionally, impala would prance along side the road, being chased by predators or perhaps just frightened by our vehicle.
We had passed safely over a bridge one day and returning the next day, we found that same bridge washed out. Auto’s not equipped as we were with our four-wheel land rover, were stranded and backed up near the bridge, unable to fiord the swift waters that was caused by sudden overnight heavy thunderstorms.
After assessing the situation, I climbed up and along a walkway railing that did not wash away with the bridge, and affixed a cable from our winch to a sturdy tree trunk across the swollen brook. I went back, started the winch and dragged our land rover, across the stream. To the accompaniment of envious stares, by those that were not similarly equipped, (they were driving MGA’s and road sedans) and were forced to remain trapped on the other side.
Continuing on back towards the Uganda capitol of Kampala, we came across a family cooking a stew over a bright red-hot coal fire. We approached and saw that they had lizards and other animals they had captured and gathered for their subsistence meal, that was their fare probably since time began.
We were invited to join in out of courtesy and hospitality, but Gene and I had a difficult time doing so because we were just not ready to take on foods that hadn’t been cleaned and processed, or at least had their bowels and intestines removed. This was not the case later on in our trip when we ate things that today I wouldn’t even think of touching-acute hunger can make you do things otherwise.
One thing we learned the hard way in Africa was, that refusing the hospitality of a shared repast, was an insult to those that invited you to “break bread” or lizard with them. Informality was belching and displaying other natural body noises such as flatulence, which was expected and was a clear sign to your hosts that all was well and acceptable and it proved satiation to all around you.
So when we understood this, we belched out loud often, after each and every meal. That is, the meals we obtained and could get to stay down, the victuals we did not have to sneak under the table to the dogs in waiting. Part 2 March 22.
Our Land Rover loaded with trade goods!! That’s Dr. Gene!!