At this point, I had been in Uganda for about two weeks. My initial plans were to fly to Zimbabwe next. However, a few days into my stay here, there was a military coup in Harare. I ended up extending my stay here in Uganda as a result. With extra time on my hands, Matija and Lucy recommended I check out Fort Portal in the western region.
I arrived at Fort Portal in the afternoon, and after an extremely frustrating two and a half hours with the hotel staff and the sorry excuse for a manager at the New Fort View Resort, I went in search of an establishment with Wi-Fi. (It’s a long and stupid story.) I spent the rest of the day working on some content for the soon-to-launch, new and improved Living Positive Kenya website. The staff at the Reinah Hotel would come to know my face quite well over the next three days. I was the mzungu with the laptop.
I felt particularly stupid every time I went to plug in my laptop. The plug itself for my ASUS laptop is a massive block, and every time I try to plug it in somewhere, gravity just has its way with that plug; and so, I have to find something to hold the plug in place. At the hotel, I decided to use a chair to leg to do the job. There were guys watching a football match in the restaurant, and I’m sure they turned several times to look at who or what was making all that noise with the chair.
It didn’t matter, though; I got the damn thing working, and I managed to get some work done before the entire afternoon was wasted.
The next day, I went on a 4 hour hike with Gilbert as he showed me around 10 of the 23 crater lakes in the region. Gilbert was a great guide, and quickly became a great friend. We exchanged life stories, and as soon as he’d become comfortable enough with me, he was eager to ask for advice regarding a girl he’d fallen for. I didn’t really think I was qualified for the job, but I suggested he just be straightforward and honest with the girl and tell her how strongly he felt. Hopefully I didn’t steer him wrong and everything works out.
After the hike, I went back to the Reinah and finished up my work for LPK.
On my final day in Fort Portal, I had scheduled a mountain hike in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Gilbert was my guide once again.
We drove as far as we could towards the entrance of the park before footing it the rest of the way. Once there, I met the park ranger and his giant assault rifle. I wasn’t particularly keen on the guy. Bit of a chauvinistic jerk, babbling on about how women shouldn’t be park rangers and other nonsense, but I had no say in the matter; he was the only park ranger around.
The hike was pretty intense, particularly in the beginning. At times, it felt even steeper than the last push to the Kilimanjaro summit. And Mr. Park Ranger over here clearly didn’t understand the concept of pole pole. The dude walked at his own pace, and it was your job to keep up. (Though he at least let us rest whenever I asked for it.) I was breathing hard pretty much the entire way up. Of course, Gilbert and the park ranger didn’t even break a sweat.
Then suddenly, out of the blue, the ranger turns back to me and says, “Thank you for making it to the peak.” Just like that! Hallelujah!
The view wasn’t particularly impressive, but the journey to the top made it entirely worthwhile. It was a beautiful hike, and a hell of a workout.
I feel like every time I hike a mountain, this is the view that waits for me at the top:
While we rested at the top, the park ranger said, “It’s too bad it did not rain. Then the hike down would be very slippery and challenging. It would be a very memorable experience.” Go to hell. I hated the hike down every step of the way. The fact that Gilbert almost slipped and cracked his head open a couple times will tell you just how challenging the descent was. As with the hiking poles on Kili, my walking stick saved my life plenty of times. I could literally feel my knees shaking–not out of fear, but because I just don’t have the muscles for those brutal descents. (If only I hadn’t forgotten to bring my knee braces…) I’d hate to think what would have happened had it rained.
Thankfully, I made it down in one piece.
Gilbert said the hike would take all day, but we managed to get back to town in just 6 hours. Huzzah! Maybe I’m not as out of shape as I thought!