Gorillas in the mud
Trip Start Nov 07, 2005
75Trip End Nov 04, 2006
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Even if they are as slow as Rwanda. The slowness started at the border and got progressively worse. To change money we had to wait while the latest exchange rate was faxed through and then while our money was checked by the broken counterfeit detector machine which beeped on every note, meaning all our money was fake. Only it wasn't.
We started off getting a friendly reception as we drove through Rwanda, and then kids started throwing rocks at us, possibly because Robert ran over one of their footballs, or becauseof the huge wooden African devil carving (Tokolosh) we have strapped to the front of the truck. It seems to scare some people. I think its quite cute. I might get one for my car.
It's been 10 days on the truck and some people are already sick of camping and have been upgrading to rooms as wet tents aren't that fun. There's some tension is some of the relationships and most people are getting sick of Len saying everything is shit.
The purpose of our brief visit to Rwanda was to go gorilla trekking. Claire, Bart, Andrew, Michelle and I were first up, and whilst Bart and Michelle opted to do the longer trek (there's no way I was volunteering for that), the remaining 3 of us were dumped with some Spanish people who didn't speak English or French, leaving it quite a challenge for any of us to communicate with them.
I hadn't brought my raincoat, not becauce I'm stupid but because I couldn't get to my locker when I got up at 5am as Robert was asleep in front of it. One of our drivers took pity on me and gave me his coat, much to Claire's disappointment as she really wanted to see me trekking in a bin bag.
After a 30 minute drive down smething which was so bumpy it could barely pass for a road, we trekked an hour up steep hills and I realised just quite how unfit I am.
We trekked the group which had the biggest and oldest mountain gorilla in the world at 220kg and 35 years old. He was the first one we saw in the group of 8 and it was a pretty scary sight to come across this big hulk just sitting there chewing leaves only a couple o of metres away. There were 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 babies who were happily rolling about playing together whilst their pqrents got their fill of leaves. The silverback can eat 20-25kg of leaves per day which would probably explain why he looked so fat and I wondered whether they'd got the gender wrong and he was actually pregnant. The experience was amazing, very expensive but worth every penny and hopefully my photos do it justice. They moved around from place to place for the hour that we were allowed to spend with them so we had another long hike back to their original location and then a very muddy, very slippery trek back down the mountain where I lost count of the amount of times I fell over. I'm now a severely bruised as well as being very unfit.
We were discussing nicknames the other day and so now everyone calls me Penguin, and the fact that I'm incredibly clumsy only reinforces it.
What's black and white and red? A bruised penguin.