A Safari in three parts: Part Two

On a flat river boat without a name, we begin to churn away along up the Albert Nile toward Murchison Falls. The motor foams and lurches, spraying the cool water up onto the deck. It is 3:00pm and once more, we are on a game drive. While the morning drive over the dirt and into the bush, knocked us back and forth, bruising hips and hitting heads, the boat ride is smooth as we sail over the opaque water searching for wildlife along the river’s edge.

The sun is even brighter on the water, and we wear our sunglasses, staring thick edge of trees where the water meets land, willing animals to appear the moment we glide by. We see monkeys and birds; white herons and eagles; crocodiles sunning themselves on the bank and plenty of hippos. From a distance we catch sight of a large herd of elephants, the mother bulls gently leading their babies to the river for a drink.

We reach the falls and the climb onto rocks in the middle of the churning river to take pictures of the rushing water spraying the canyon into which it falls. “Hey Kate!” my little brother exclaims, proudly posing on a boulder. “Take a picture of me!”
So I do.

“This is where the author Ernest Hemingway crashed his plane while trying to fly around Murchison Falls,” the ranger on board explains, pointing to a small blue sign on shore, barely noticeable from the boat. The Hemingway lover inside me, squeaks, and I snap photos of the piece of his plane that they have mounted on a stick as a momentum. Hemingway was only injured in the crash. They camped onshore for a few nights before being rescued by Ugandans in canoes.

We complete the boat ride, docking just as evening falls, for though it is summer, the sun has set by 7:00pm, just as it does every other day of the year. It is hot. The wind from the cruising boat ride gone, we feel flushed, and hurrying to our campsite, we order cold bottles of water and beer. After deliciously cold showers and a dinner of rice and curried vegetables, we collapse within the canvas walls of our tents, exhausted. My fingers itch to write and for a while I try, scribbling in fluid ink the adventures of the day. But moths and mosquitoes flutter to the light of my flashlight, and the kerosene lamp make the inside of the canvas tent warmer and warmer. I fall asleep to the sound of warthogs rustling in the bushes outside and the peaceful sound of my sisters sleeping beside me.


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