A couple of hours into our Safari, we stopped at this little lake where, all of those rock looking things back behind us in this pic, are actually hippos! I feel like I should constantly be rubbing my eyes in case this isn't real or I need to wake up. We just watched them swim and eat and bah, it was lovely.
The crested crane. Uganda's national bird. How cool looking are these little guys?! Loving the yellow hair. That's a classy bird right there.
Giraffes!! Another favorite for sure! They're so beautiful and graceful. It was so amazing just staring at them, watching them walk around. It's crazy being so fascinated and mystified by these creatures. They truly seem like they're from another planet. They're so darling.
After the safari, we went home, had lunch, and had an hour nap. After all of the traveling we'd done the night before and the early hour to wake up, we appreciated an hour of down time. We woke up to go on a night cruise. Not the Disney Jungle Cruise--this was actually us floating down the Nile like nbd. Can't be reality right?! Gosh, I just kept thinking, "yeah I get to shower like twice a week, use super awkward bathroom facilities, and have to wear a skirt everyday but...I also get to look at this." There's always an upside. I have a bunch of 'em. Love upsides. haha
The boat took us all of the way to Murchison Falls (where we'd hiked the day before). It was beautiful. I loved looking around throughout the boat ride just in awe that I get to see what I'm seeing. It's so green and lush, the animals are ones that I've only seen pictures of in books...or depressed in zoos haha, and the girls that I'm here with are so much fun. Happiness.
He said he feels like the luckiest man on the planet. (please note that he is a nile boat ride guide). He told me that his mom died when he was 3. His dad passed away when he was 18. And he was taken from his home by rebels for 3 months when he was 14 years old. And yet he lucked out with this job as a tour guide and genuinely considers himself one of the luckiest people in the world. He's known real sorrow and experience things I can't even relate to, and yet he's quick to smile, has a contagious laugh, and finds himself lucky. Whammy!! Forever impacted. Yep.
We got back to the camp grounds, played uno for like 2 hours waiting for our dinner and then afterwards had a dance party with the staff. haha We'd gotten to know the guys that worked at the campsite when we were there for our meals and stayed up super late that night just talking to them and hanging out. We were the ONLY people in that place that weren't wasted. There was a huge table of people from Ireland that were drunk out of their minds. They were singing song and after song for like 2 hours. Next few tables over was a huge high school group from England. There were like 30 of them and their table was caked in empty beer bottles. Then take a gander at the four Americans sitting at the bar, retrieving an iPad so we could put on a dance playlist and dance the night away. That's quite literally what we did. It was SO fun. The only sober ones and we were dancing the night away with our new African friends. It was perfect.
Here are Jones and Rodgers. They work at the campsite. We love them. Not only are they hilarious but they have killer cool dance moves. They're officially invited to any and every dance party that I throw in the future.
After a late night, we had a whole day of travels Saturday. We had to leave at 8 am, travel to Kampala, and then get a taxi back to Mbale. We got home at like 10 pm. We were exhausted but so happy from our weekend together. It just solidified something to me that I've known for a while. Yes, the Safari was INCREDIBLE! It was amazing and a huge check off my bucket list. I loved every second of it. But this weekend reminded me how people make experiences what they are to me. I love the girls that I traveled with, I loved our safari driver Ronald, I loved our boat tour guide David, and I loved spending time with Rodgers and Jones. They were the details that made an already beautiful weekend that much more beautiful. I love that.
And in closing, remember when I told you that when I went to Jinja, I talked to my boda driver (you pay motorcycle drivers to take you places...it's Ugandas version of a taxi.) about the church and he went to church on Sunday last week. I introduced him to my friend Elder Chauya (who served in Mbale before he was transfered to Jinja). Elder Chauya e-mailed me today and said that he is getting baptized on July 29th!! I was freaking out when I read the e-mail and have been blissfully happy all day about it. I'm so glad that Julius has accepted the gospel. He was so sweet and wonderful from the moment that I met him. He'll be a great addition to the church. And I'm so happy for Elder Chauya. He's an amazing missionary and is currently in a really really difficult area. I know how that goes. So I'm happy for both of them. Beautiful experience.
In case you didn't know how I feel about Uganda...