All great trips begin with a long flight(s). For this one, it was NYC to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Kigali. Kigali to Entebbe. I decided on Uganda was originally going to be part two of a 2-week trip to Africa. Part 1 was a volunteer pro bono trip to Nairobi with Salesforce.com, and this Part 2 was a “me trip” to see the mountain gorillas. (and to use an outstanding credit with G Adventures). When the travel alerts were raised in Nairobi, Salesforce.com cancelled the trip. By then, it was too late for me to cancel Uganda – so I was off.
I had two bags: a backpack for the Uganda/camping trip and a roller bag for a business trip to London the following week.
I was quite a sight to see as I checked in and left the airport in Entebbe at 11PM. Especially as my pre-arranged driver wasn’t there to meet me. A lovely American named Heather (who, incidentally, had a sister named Heidi) took charge of me and other wayward traveler, Leigh from San Diego. Heather was based in Minnesota but runs a nonprofit in Uganda that helps missions run their school programs. She, one of her locals David, and a driver drove Leigh and myself – and three carts of bibles – to Kampala. Along the way we stopped by a grocery store – in a mall – to pick up bread, water, and snacks. The parking lot of the mall was packed with people partying out of their cars. A veritable tailgate, but without the sports paraphernalia. Our driver told us later it was a local dance that had let out and this is where the party landed. By this time it was almost 1AM.
We drove to the Red Chili Hideaway, only to discover that no one was there except a guard who informed us that it had moved. Poor Heather- doing a good deed by safely delivering lost travelers turned in to an unintentional late night drive. We were deeply appreciative, though, and we got to know her very well. She and her husband have adopted three Uganda children – each of whom had a traumatic childhood and suffer from different elements of that trauma and dissociative disorder. It’s amazing – the capacity of the human spirit to give. Heather and her husband have, essentially, dedicated their lives to making these children better. When we finally arrived at the real Red Chili Hideaway 20 minutes later, Leigh and I were thankful, inspired, and exhausted. We checked into our rooms and crashed.
The next day I’d intended to volunteer at an orphanage down the street – I’d even brought onesies and some plush toys to give – but that was “down the street” of the old Red Chili Hideaway. There was no orphanage near this RCH. And I slept until 1PM. Instead, I sat on the balcony of RCH in the rainy gray day and read. Leigh took my onesies and plush toys since she was staying in Kampala and would find someone who could use them.
The G Adventures group showed up around 6PM. We had dinner and introductions – though they’d been together for 2 days since Nairobi – and I sorted out various details with the G Adventures staff on the trip: John, Johnson, and Johannes. No kidding.
There were 18 of us on this trip: Emmely (Sweden), Jackie and Brett (Australia), Maj (Netherlands), Xander (UK), Steffi (Germany), Julienne (Australia), Pam and Doug (Australia), Ian and Mags (Ireland), Ana and Lissette (Chili), Daniel, Francesca, and Sabrina (Switzerland), and Kate (UK)