This is Africa

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail…

That’s what the teachers always told us in school, especially in the run-up to exams, but it seems I’ve found an exception to the rule.  I’ve come to realise that in Uganda even the best laid plans can be doomed to fail, and it’s the times that you have no plans at all and just go with the flow that end up being the most exciting, interesting and memorable experiences of all.

March seemed to be full of these moments for me.  As my favourite month of the year, I wanted to make it a good one and planned lots of exciting trips like white water rafting on the River Nile, travelling to Sipi Falls, three of the largest waterfalls in Uganda, and a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

But then the rainy season started and we had to postpone our visit to Sipi Falls, I got typhoid and couldn’t go white water rafting, and it looked like I wouldn’t be celebrating my birthday after all.

Except out of the blue came a visit to my extended host family in the village (more on this in my next post!), a weekend in Jinja with the other volunteers on my programme, and a birthday full of my favourite foods – a veggie burger, banana smoothie and a huge chocolate cake made by my friends in the Kampala symphony orchestra!

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Our safari was another classic ‘This is Africa’ moment, starting with our guide arriving two hours late to pick us up, then promptly leaving us to take another set of clients, handing us over to two Rasta guys instead! After a full day of travelling, we arrived at the lodge to find that not only was there no free meal like we’d been promised, but there was no food or drink at all, the staff had gone home for the night! The next morning a huge storm started just as we were setting off to try and watch lions hunting at dawn, and to make matters worse when we got back to our tent we found it completely soaked through from the rain!

But on the plus side we were lucky to come across a whole herd of elephants, more than I could count, a group of seven young lions lounging in the late afternoon sun, and later we followed a lone female looking for a hunt in the last of the evening light. It was so exhilarating to see such strong, majestic creatures so close to us; I don’t think those images will ever leave my mind!

So by now I’ve learnt that when things don’t go according to plan, it’s better just to shrug your shoulders and say, ‘This is Africa!’ because you never know what might be just around the corner!

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