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Day 17 - Saturday 22nd July

Report for Day 17 – Saturday 22nd July is written by Elsa.

It was a sobering start to the day when we woke up and the realisation that this would be our last day at what was our home for the last two weeks began to dawn on us. Jess, Beth, Velvet and I, on first seeing our small, cramped room, were worried about what it would be like but, when faced with the task of leaving it for good, couldn’t quite believe how much we`d miss it. When we finally got up it was the laborious job of packing suitcases and double-checking under the beds. We went to breakfast and it felt as normal as ever with everyone a little tired, sad, but a bit excited about the next few days to come.

After food, it was triple checks and then taking all of our luggage to the buses with many farewell pictures with Francis and Ruth who will both be missed dearly and deserved so much more than what they have for the lovely people they are. Then it was onto the previously allocated buses (I was on the Green Hornet and the rest of us went on the White Flyer) and before we knew it, we were waving goodbye to our African home.

We did, however, stop around 200 yards away take a group photo with the statue of a gorilla in the town, which was meant to be a landmark, so we had to do at least one touristy thing before leaving.

Then it was off for good and was just like any other journey - we slept, I read and wrote in my journal, ate some sweets Mr Royle had kindly given us and chatted. We were following the same road we`d taken to get to Kabale so we had seen many of the huge mountain ranges, colossal rolling hills and massive forests before but it was nice to go along a now familiar twisting lane. Around an hour later we stopped off for a toilet break which was the nicest porcelain hole in the ground I`d seen yet. Then it was more travelling with magnificent views of the far away ground below us then a stop off at a service station for lunch about an hour and a half. The crew of the Country Side Guest House had packed us a last lunch so we ate it in this diner-style café but had to order drinks to be able to stay in there. Beth, Velvet and I had gone on a soda-strike so had only drunk water for the past week and had continued with this now.

There was a supermarket next door so Judith took most of us there but since I had no Ugandan shillings left I didn’t go. We were there longer than expected as everyone took a bit of chivvying to get back into the buses but soon we were off again.

Beth and I played hang man (or swing man as it is called here) for a while before we stopped off at this village's hot springs. We got some far away pictures of it but no-one was keen on going in as people would go in there if they had a disease or something, they believed the water acted as a cure. Our only use for this was to stretch our legs for a bit.

Patrick, our driver from last week, met us at a gas station with another bus (dubbed the Silver Spider) so Mia, Grace, Bryony and Denise went in there with him. That left Thomas, Aidan, Beth, Mr Royle and Henry our driver in the Green Hornet.

It was a longer stretch of the journey and Henry managed to get some bananas from a woman selling them on the side of the road and they were absolutely wonderful and so fresh. It was then an incredibly pot-holed filled half hour with a rainforest to our left and sandstone cliffs to our right where we then we stopped off at a beautiful view of the Queen Elizabeth National Park which was absolutely incredible. I thought it was just a quick leap out so still had my shoes off when I was taking pictures and only learned after that there were snakes about. Oh well.

It was another long part of the journey but we all now got excited as we knew it was getting close and along the dusty path, a family of baboons scampered before us, complete with tiny babies clinging onto their mother's backs. Thomas threw out a left over banana and they absolutely loved that and followed us a bit for more but then gave up and carried on the other way.

Thomas and Aidan decided this was a good time to put on the three Lion King songs they had on a loop, so we were all singing our hearts out, but by the fourth repetition we were all getting a bit bored. We arrived at this small building where we waited for around half an hour whilst Pete was sorting out passports with the people inside. 

Much to most of our disappointment, we were heading to see the safari for a bit before going to the hotel, even though we were already an hour late and all just wanted to go to sleep. Apparently, this was a good time to see lions (just as the sun is setting) but we weren’t that optimistic as Mr Royle and Pete didn’t see any the last time they went. Henry put up the roof so we were standing up whilst hurtling along the dusty paths.  However, our luck and mood levels changed when we saw a group of minibuses crowded around a spot where there was a sleeping male lion there! I couldn’t believe it and we were all taking lots of pictures. It seemed to be an incredibly lazy lion as although we were waiting (rather loudly) for a solid hour, he still didn’t seem to wake up. We watched the sun set with a lion before us and I think it was the most amazing moment yet. Henry drove the bus closer and revved the engine loads and the lion woke up! It lifted its head for around a minute, during which we all took many pictures, but then it went back to sleep, obviously bored of us. Successful in our lion voyage, we headed down the dusty paths for 45 minutes which was the most exhilarating experience ever. Standing up out of our bus whilst the wind was roaring in our ears, the dust billowing everywhere and I felt at that moment so alive and free and it was just wonderful. The dark was all around us and a rather burnt egg smell that came from a nearby sulphur lake.

We had to go back inside when we arrived at the first gate to the hotel and they checked us then waved us through then we finally arrived at the gate to the hotel itself. When we entered, there were staff waiting for us and they gave us hot towels to clean our faces and a drink of passion fruit juice whilst we stared in awe at the detailed lobby. Most of us connected to the Wi-Fi and I straight away looked up who the new Doctor was - I was shocked but very pleased that Jodie Whittaker had taken up the role. I could write 1,000 more words about that fact but I will restrain myself.

Jess and I were sharing room 6 so took our suitcases there and flopped down onto the super comfortable beds straight away- the room was so nice! We then got changed into other non-sweaty clothes for dinner, which was a lukewarm buffet (we were now 3 hours late for dinner) and there seemed to be a wedding going on as there was incredibly loud music and a bride in a beautiful dress. There was a strange passion fruit dessert which was nice and had a posh presentation and it was nice to have pudding after two weeks of none. 

Everyone spent about 10 mins on the Wi-Fi before we went back to our rooms where I had the best shower ever with actual hot water! It was around 11:20 and we were so shattered and knew we had an early start tomorrow so set our alarms then went straight to sleep.

Elsa.

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