Sunday, February 8, 2009

Entebbe Again, Monkeys, Tarzan, and Ants

Back in Entebbe, Uganda, and this time it's quite a different feeling. I am used to the sights, the smells, the overwhelming nature of this place, so it's a little easier to take in.

We are staying at the Airport Guesthouse, which is literally an oasis in the desert. It is nicer than most hotels I have stayed at in the States, and for Uganda, that is saying a lot. We have HOT WATER showers, good food, and ice cream for dessert! That will all end tomorrow as we head to Kampala for a tour of the Watoto Villages, and then on to Sanyu Orphanage where we will work for the next week.

A brief highlight of the last 48 hours: Today we went to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, which was an incredible place full of huge trees, and giant vines hanging overhead. Our guide proudly told us that it was here that the 1930s Tarzan movie was filmed. I believed it, so much so that I grabbed a huge vine and swung 15 feet into the air. It was incredible. I let out a quick Tarzan-esq yell, and, after thumping my chest a few times, we moved on.

We came to a series of trees around which over 150 monkeys were playing and jumping around. It was amazing, they had almost no fear of humans so we could walk within two feet of them without disturbing them at all. There is something so freeing about watching them play, jumping from tree to tree flying through the air.

Unfortunately for me, in my ever-continuing quest for taking quality pictures, I ventured a little too far off the beaten path into some brush. As I was snapping a few pictures I felt several pricks on my feet, I looked down and saw dozens of giant ants covering my feet. It was the wrong day to opt for sandals. I had stopped directly on an ant hill to take my pictures, and in no more than ten seconds they had crawled up my legs and all over my body. It was one of the worst feelings I have ever had, it felt like my body was crawling. I ran toward Emily and our guide, trying hard to keep my cool but desperately swatting at the creatures that now covered my body. I knew I was in trouble when the guide looked worried and said, "oh dear, you might have to strip down." No way was I about to strip down naked in the middle of the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, so as he said this I started swatting furiously at the little beasts; smashing, clawing, pinching, slapping, doing anything I could to rid myself of this plague. Emily and the guide joined in as I danced around flailing my arms and shaking my jeans. So much for keeping my cool. Eventually all of the creatures were either dead and stuck in my leg hair and jeans, or on the ground. The guide, after examining the fallen ants remarked casually, "ah, these are safari ants, thank goodness, not poisonous." "Whew," I thought. "That was close." It was an experience, one that I sincerely hope never ever to have again.

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