Then it was something we had really been looking forward to, trekking with the Gorillas but we had a choice of driving down the main road to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or alternately it was a drive along quite rough tracks down past Lake Edward and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. On the way we came across a prison and all the inmates were out in the fields digging and planting crops to be used for their own meals we presume!
Then a little further on we came across a young man who had hit a bit of sand and dropped his very heavily loaded motorbike so we stopped and Marcus helped him get it upright and going again.
Anyway in the end the choice was easy and we decided to break the journey into two days stopping for the first night at a small village called Kisenyi on the shores of Lake Edward. This was to be just an simple overnight stop in and out but when we arrived and called in at the Community Camp we were immediately made very welcome by so many locals we knew we were in for a special stay. We arrived early in the afternoon so set up camp and while having a cold beer we watched some locals thatching a roof on what is to be a restaurant and bar of their community camp site.
Then seeing that there was a lot of action going on down at the lake we decided to walk down and see for ourselves what was going on. Everyone was so friendly and I got talking to two men Steven and Foruk (spelling?) who told me that all the men were preparing to launch their boats to go out for a night of fishing. They leave at 3pm and go out into deep water to set their nets and then sleep in the boat until 3am when they pull the nets in and arrive back at the beach between 9am and 10 am. The government has reformed how things are done as there used to be a total of 120 small boats in this community but due to there size many men lost their lives due to rough weather that the boats were not capable of riding out and hippo attacks. So now there are only 40 larger boats licensed to fish which means that they are much safer but on the other hand many men have lost their income making the community really struggle because that’s what they relied on.
At the beach a group of children befriended us and then followed us back to the camp while Pauline sang songs to them, they absolutely loved the attention, clapping and singing while all trying to hold one of our hands! When we got back to camp we gave them each a toy Koala and a pen which they were very excited to receive.
The next morning we had breakfast and headed back down to the beach to watch the 40 boats come back in with their catch which ended up being a very meagre catch due to rough weather overnight. One boat we saw come in had not even caught one fish and when you consider that they still have expenses like fuel and each day the boat is hauled up the beach by about a dozen men who have to be paid so as you can see that would have been very disappointing. Some of the boats came in with maybe 10 fish with varieties that included Tilapia, Catfish and Lungfish and as each boat came in they were met by the fishmongers who made an offer for the fish with the fish going to the highest bidder.
Then before we left we called in to the school and donated two soccer balls and again were given the guided tour of the school and once again we could see just how under resourced they were. However the teachers and students were still so positive and happy it makes the complaints and gripes we have with life seem so minor. Of the 200 odd primary students at the school last year only five children were then able to go on to secondary school. We left feeling so sad because this is a really poor community who will keep struggling for many more years but they do have great spirit and will work hard to improve their lot.
Now finally we will head further south to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the Gorillas.