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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Hart

Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies... (part 3)

November 1, 2021

Mzungu Diaries, Part 3

Team Drip

Our last night in Uganda included massages, rest, ice cold Team Drip's and dinner. Physically we were exhausted, mentally we were back with the gorillas and shifting our energy to preparing for a long and very early travel day to the Masi Mara. With packing in front of us and a 5am wake-up call followed by two hours down the mountain, hour flight to Entebbe, another hour to Kisumu to clear customs and COVID tests and another 45 minutes to the Masi Mara airstrip for the start of safari, we had a helluva day in front of us.

We drank the last two Nile's and moved on to Team Drip's while packing, enjoying the views and getting ready for dinner. Every meal at Cloud's Rest was, to our surprise, better than expected - breakfast, lunch and dinner - all the fruits and vegetables grown on the property and the tilapia from, ummm...

So a good rule of them when traveling to Africa or anywhere, is to be skeptical of tilapia any time you are on top of a mountain in the center of a jungle, at least two hours removed from the nearest airport. But, I wasn't really thinking about this rule of travel when I sat down for dinner and ordered the fish stew. It wasn't the best dish during my stay. It was good. But not good enough to keep me from dessert. After finishing dinner, we went back to the room to finish packing and immediately fell asleep with a 5am wake-up call in front of us.

Only I woke up two hours later not feeling great. And then everything came including the devil came out of me for the next hour. I went back to sleep feeling confident that there was no way I had anything left to throw-up. An hour later I was up. And then the next hour. And the hour after that. I was beginning to panic - uncontrollably vomiting, physically exhausted, no sleep, am I dying? oh god, a hospital here is not going to be good, how am I going to make it on these flights, how am I going to make it down the mountain? oh god, this is rough just go back to get that last hour of sleep.

It didn't work and I wasn't able to keep water or sprite down for longer than 20 minutes. I hadn't experienced anything quite like this before. I was determined to stay out of hospital or government enforced quarantine for thinking it was COVID and making it to our tent on the Masi Mara. Sitting in the backseat of the Land Cruiser, we started down the mountain in the early morning darkness after saying our goodbyes to the wonderful team hosting us. I was glued to watching the clock, counting the minutes, challenging myself to make it just 5 more minutes before having to pull over. At 6:47am, I started tapping on the side window, the pace picking up as we came to a stop, I jumped out and had another out of body experience. I pulled it back together and made it to 7:21am. I thought maybe I was starting to feel better, that might have been it but was getting anxiety over the inevitable temperature check waiting for me at the airstrip. With the help of a chilled water bottle, I cleared the temperature hurdle and crashed on the faux leather, deep burgundy love seat in the office of the airstrip.

I sunk deep , slouched even deeper, into the couch and wondered how I was going to survive the flight in this poorly ventilated, tiny little excuse for an airplane without absolutely losing it. But we boarded the flight, I used my last words letting the pilots know, "I get horrible air sickness," so they didn't think I had the 'rona, looked over at Erin, looked straight ahead as we took off with tears of pain filling my eyes. And then we made it to Entebbe for our two hour layover to Kisumu and, again, wondering how I was going to make it. I almost didn't. I thought I was going to die in the Men's restroom on the 2nd floor of the airport while a concerned attendant just stared at me with wonder - only not the good kind, more like the kind of disbelief.

Like the kind of disbelief I felt realizing that gatorade doesn't exist in airports in Africa and maybe even all of Africa. Nonetheless, we made it to Kisumu, cleared the temperate by .3 and landed on the Mara after dealing with some time of long delay where we sat in the lounge, on the tarmac, back in the lounge and onto the tarmac to take off.

We made it to the Bateleur Camp on the Masi Mara. Erin went to look at animals and I went straight to the bed after sipping on some broth, loading up on electrolytes and just starting to think that maybe I am going to survive this. Sure enough, I did. It was a gradual recovery through the morning as we left on safari, eased into lunch and was able to enjoy one gin & tonic with dinner because the tonic settles the stomach.

So, with a 5am wake-up call followed by two hours down the mountain, hour flight to Entebbe, another hour to Kisumu to clear customs and COVID tests and another 45 minutes to the Masi Mara airstrip for the start of safari PLUS flight delays, borderline fevers, vomiting, and the all around worst food poisoning in my 39 year history, we had a helluva day behind us.

And perhaps a true testament to our first 3 days in the Clouds - I would do it all over again and again and again. I probably, definitely, maybe just won't order the tilapia next time.

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