We woke up stiff and bruised but optimistic. We were ready to finally start our vacation and we knew that once the police and car towing was dealt with, the worst would be over.
Until you have spent 31/2 hours in a remote Uganda police station, you have not really been to Africa. The room was dusty and it smelt like ancient body odour. The calender that was stuck, slanted to the wall, read September and the paint had peeled and faded to some shade that may once have resembled yellow. The window was splattered with suicidal mosquitos and the roof was made of tin. The phone numbers of all the police officers were chalked onto the walls. Sitting amidst this was a traffic officer wearing the crispest and whitest suit you can imagine. To protect the seat of his super white pants he sat upon a handkerchief and with tongue in his cheek, like a school boy concentrating on his penmanship , he carefully wrote down what had happened. He was polite, yet slow and we waited patiently for the report to be filed. The commanding officer who had been on the scene the night before had the key to the car and we had to wait some hours before he arrived to hand it to us. The towing truck that was arriving , at great expense, from Kampala, would need that key to deliver the car back home and the car would not be released until the report was correctly filed and paid for. So there were steps to follow and no amount of wishing, pleading or hoping would speed this situation up.
The men responsible for the electricity pole that I had unfortunately hit turned up to get their compensation and we discovered that despite paying for the police report it would not be handed to us until the car was officially inspected in Kampala. Email addresses were exchanged with fingers crossed in hope that we would eventually see the report and once the midday sun was starting to roast us, and we thought we had seen quite enough of Kihihi police station for one life time, we were finally allowed to go. Dave, the hardy and patient manager of the wilderness lodge where we were staying picked us up and drove us away.
The lodge is a tented yet exquisite set of structures nestled amongst the trees on the banks of the Ishasha River. We were presented with an oasis of calm and serenity after the past 20 hours of scary and painful hell. Within minutes we could feel our troubles and the memories of the Kihihi police station melt away. It is called a wilderness camp for good reason and with 25 staff for 20 guests, every need is met and catered for. The sound of birds and running river accompanied our delicious lunch, eaten outside, with fine linens and china. The Princess Camper within me beamed. This was perfect. We were the only guests and once lunch was over it was only the four of us, with Dave, who piled into the Safari truck. By 4pm we were driving through the park looking, as far as the eye could see, at fig trees, savannah, Kob, Water Buck, Warthog, Buffalo, Topi, Eagles and the almighty elephant.
Ishasha is famous for its tree climbing lions. They hunt at night and sleep all day in the thick branches of the fig tree. There are only 28 lions spread over the 18,000 hectares of the park and it is sheer luck to see them. The park is only a few kilometers from the Congo and often the lions wander over there and can’t be seen for many weeks. At one point on the drive we stopped by a river that shall forever, in my memory, be known as Hippo Soup. The Congo was near enough to wade to, were it not for the large and cumbersome Hippos wallowing within it.
We couldn’t find any lions despite some long drives around the favorite fig trees. Still, when we drove back into the camp, were were happy, lucky and spoilt.