Day 11: Jinja, Village Walk and Drunk tourists

Since Jinja is only two hours away from Kampala, we got to sleep until 7:15, which is a luxury. We are still at the back of the truck, but Dana has moved seats so this morning's ride was quite pleasant. We talked a lot with Lana, and Dilek entertained the team with fortune telling again.

We arrived at the Jinja camp at about 13:30. We will sleep here for two nights. The campsite at Jinja was by water with nice views. We set up tents, had lunch, and listened to the activities briefing. Many people were interested in the rafting or kayaking on the Nile. All activities were heavily overpriced. Even a 3-hour quad bike drive around the villages cost 99 USD per person.

We were interested in seeing the Nile river again, but after seeing it previously in Cairo and Luxor, Vedran got a bit suspicious. After checking the map his suspicions were confirmed. We were not on the Nile at all. This river was called the White Nile and Victoria Nile on the map. The local name was something different. Instead, this was a lot smaller river between two lakes. In addition, the camp was looking over an artificial lake on this river, created in 2011 between two dams. Needless to say, We decided not to opt in for any of the activities.

Most of the group decided to go on a “Nile” cruise, which really was just a booze cruise. The attraction was the open bar. Neither Dilek nor Vedran was interested (although the price was quite low considering it was all you could drink), and neither was another couple; Robert and Laura.

We went to the lake side with the whole group for some swimming (it was a really hot day), then the two couples (Dilek, Vedran, Laura, Robert) decided to go for a hike.

We didn't know what to expect, but our original thought was to walk along the river to get some nice pictures. Unfortunately, there are no good trails along the shore, and the only access point costs money (for absolutely no reason). Therefore, we decided not to go in that direction, and instead started walking the other way as we left the camp site.

As mentioned, we had no idea what to expect but it turned out that the little muddy road leads into a tiny village, the smallest one we have seen. Actually, as we walked, we realized that it was a collection of villages, all the houses were really basic and it was obvious that this people were very very poor.

Immediately, we were surrounded by children who wanted to hold our hands and touch us. We took pictures of them and showed them what they looked like in the camera, which they found to be tremendous. They were all screaming and laughing, and it was quite amusing.

After a while, we were approached by an older girl, Eva who was 15, and a few other girls, 11-13, who insisted that they go with us. They just started walking along, telling us all about their village. Eva in particular was a bit pushy, and they wanted to direct us through all the tiny roads, insisting that they could show us everything. We were a bit worried because after a while we were completely lost and had no idea where these kids were taking us, and of course we didn't want to be rude. Luckily, Vedran had GPS so he did manage to orient himself from time to time. Still it was the girls that were leading the way.

They showed us their school, football field, two churches and a mosque. And it was all through fields and maze and teeny tiny mud roads. All the while we had a bunch of smaller children hanging on to us and Eva talked non-stop. It was quite a special experience.

We gave the smaller children all our juice boxes, and then said we should continue without them as their mothers would get worried. Another reason was that it was getting late and we needed to head home.

We continued with Eva and the older girls who told us they could take us to the river. Since this was the original objective of our hike, we accepted. Again, we walked through small muddy roads and maze, saw heaps of clay houses, women cooking, children playing and all that... It seems that the girls deliberately took us on detours so that we could meet their parents. We didn't enter any house. One girl asked Vedran to be her sponsor (which he didn’t understand at the time). Finally at one house, we felt we had to enter the yard since the little girl was going to give us her e-mail. We entered and met the mother, grandmother, and brother, and praised them for having such a nice daughter. The e-mail was some sort of common mail, probably belonging to the mother. Dilek also gave them her own card, and actually received a Facebook request later that evening.

Eventually, we got to the shore. It was very scenic. We sat down for a rest, filming the little boys who wanted to see themselves on camera. Suddenly, we saw the booze cruise in the distance and wanted to wait for it to pass so we could wave to the group. But just as the boat was approaching, an armed guard came up to us from nowhere and asked to see our tickets. We were shocked, apparently, the kids had taken us into the restricted area where you had to pay (or the guard lied about the need for tickets which Vedran experienced before in southern Europe). We tried to act neutral since we didn't want any trouble. Dilek immediately apologized and said the kids brought us. The guard answered by saying that the kids knew the procedure, by which Dilek again apologized and immediately suggested that we leave, and started walking away fast. The others followed past, and apparently, the armed guard was in a good mood because he let us go. He didn't feel threatening, but it is something you would never come across in Sweden. The entire coast of Sweden is free for anyone to walk on. It is even written in the law (Sv. “Allemansr├Ątten”).

After this we told the kids it was time to head home, and they walked us to the edge of the village. We wanted to give them something as thanks, but not money as our guide had told us that the parents may not like it. It was also a bit obvious that the kids had done this for the gifts. Luckily, Vedran had his thick sweater in his bag, and Dilek had a sweater and hazelnuts from Sweden. We gave two of the girls the shirts, saying it was all we had, and told them to share the nuts. They all hugged us goodbye and we went back to camp. It was a very unique and special experience.

Around dinnertime, the booze cruise came back and boy were people wasted. They were throwing up, couldn't walk etc, really low class. People were hooking up with everybody, falling over, and tossing up. At one point, Mary lost her passport and no one would help her. Dilek ran out and found her in distress, and organized a small search party. Luckily it turned up. And after that, we went to bed, because it was clear that this drunken mess would continue way into the night.

As we were about to fall asleep, we suddenly hear scratching and pulling behind our tent. Something was digging around trying to get in. We thought it was a dog, but boy was it persistent. Suddenly the scratches started reaching higher up, and it was clear it was not a dog. As we were trying to decide if it was a burglar, a hand went through a small patch behind the tent and it freaked us out. We asked who it was and it was Jill. Pjuh... We started laughing, it was so hilarious. Vedran got dressed, went out to help her find her tent, but didn't know where it was. He discovered that Sam was sitting awake in his tent meditating and asked him to help find Jill's tent. Neither knew where the tent was. Suddenly, Jen appears and says that Jess upgraded to a dorm, so she and Sam take Jill away to her room. We couldn't stop laughing, it was quite comical.

Well at least we had an eventful day. ;-)