We took the long way back to Uganda from DRC, actually a 2.5day trip by road and boat. It is possible to simply fly (1.5hours) from Bunia, DRC, to the airport in Uganda but we wanted to "experience" life a bit. We have wanted to understand how people get around and the landscape a bit. It may not always be possible to take the ground route into and out of DRC, but it is fun.
Here is an outline of our day leaving DRC...the stops and all. We woke up early in hopes of catching a public boat across Lake Albert at 9am to reach Uganda.
- 5:45am-Warren wakes up
- 6:00am-Lindsey wakes up (usual pattern)
- 6:30am-Drinking coffee & waiting for the taxi
- 7am-Still drinking coffee....
- 7:30am-Still drinking coffee. Our friend arrives to say that the arranged taxi is "not going out today." He leaves to find another taxi.
- 9am-Taxi arrives to depart for Lake Albert (2.5hours later than anticipated)
- 11am-Arrive on the shores of Lake Albert after quite possibly the roughest road I have ever been on. It would have been difficult to mountain bike on this road!
- Immigration officer told us the boat "just left." He says that we might be able to get a pirogue across the lake; he cannot stamp our passports until we have plans to leave.
- We see a motor boat approaching in the distance. We both think: "This might be the way across the lake."
- We descend the hill to check it out.
- 11:30am-We makes plans to get on the motor boat $20/person. We are thrilled! Our bags are loaded. We are told that they will simply have to offload a part of a crane before we can leave. We talk to a health inspector and various other people, then sit down to wait. We watch some young boys fishing in their underwear.
- 12pm Back to the Customs Office to have our passport stamped. Warren deflects a request for money by saying that he will be a doctor at Nyankunde in a few months if the border patrol has any medical problems. The border patrol asks to see Warren in private about a health concern and forgets about the request for money. The exam is conducted behind closed doors and results in a little smirking afterwards, also the use of hand-sanitizer. Also an explanation of how diseases are transmitted from one person to another.
- 12:30pm-Other boats arriving. Unloading of boats. Men from our boat are nowhere to be seen. We are told they are waiting for a battery to run the crane, in order to unload the boat we will take.
- 1pm-Waiting for the battery to arrive. Warren takes a nap with the guys. Lindsey talking a young Congolese about the "Big Fishing Season" on Lake Albert in September. The boy asks Lindsey about "Big Fishing" in America. Lindsey struggles to explain why we don't eat big fish, due to toxins in the lakes. Warren tells Lindsey NOT to try to explain how Americans prefer to hang their game fish on the walls (this would not be understood and thought to be ridiculous).
- 1:30pm-Someone starts up the crane. This looks promising....
- 1:40pm-Unload complete. Men disappear again. What is next?
- 2:15pm-Men reappear and we load the boat to cross Lake Albert (about 3 hours later).
- 2:15-6:15pm-Crossing Lake Albert. Stunning sunset. Warren drives the boat for a bit, resulting in a serpentine course across the lake. Pirogues are still crossing the lake.
- 6:30pm-Customs on the Uganda side. Phone calls to the border patrol who has gone home for the night.
- 7pm-Taxiing across Similiki National Park for Fort Portal. There are warthogs, antelope, and baboons crossing the road.
- 715 pm. Stop to fix a tire. Lindsey uses the facilities (bushes) and is nearly left behind.
- 9pm-Arrival in Fort Portal for the night. We stayed at the Raja Excelsior Hotel. Not quite as fancy as the name, but adequate.
We crossed Lake Albert about 5 hours later than I "thought" we would. I found myself frustrated by this and reflecting on why. I concluded that I simply like to know what the plans are, to have some certainty. Rather, the "certainty" was that we were on a journey.
After all that, we still don't really know when the public boat departs on Lake Albert. Is it 7am, 8am, 9am, 10am? Is it everyday or only Mon/Wed/Fri? No one could really give a concrete answer. The answer was simply that the boat does not leave everyday and that the boat usually waits until it is full. This is Africa isn't it? We both concluded that this is a fun adventure, just as long as there is not a flight to catch!
Well, we leave tomorrow for the US. We hope you have enjoyed our little adventures. Many more to come....especially as Lindsey gets "culturally adjusted."
Lindsey (for both of us)