Happy monkeys, happy soda

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November 23rd 2000
Published: November 26th 2007
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Here in Kampala, the Red Chili Hideaway is an oasis. A big lawn outside the main building is where we pitched the tent. From Kampala we can get our Tanzanian visas but we're stuck waiting for a few days. Our schedule's getting tighter and it makes sense to me for us to skip a visit to Lamu in exchange for a few days in the Ssese Islands. Mike seems to agree, I hope it's in his heart.

Note: I'm now minus one wallet, 7000 USh (about $4)and 3 credit cards (easily cancelled). Why did I let my guard down? Answer: because I'm not in Nairobi.

Sometimes my boyfriend just doesn't want to think about what he wants to do and then just when we're down to the wire, he gets clarity. We won't go to Lamu, in fact Mike proposed that we shouldn't even go to the Kenyan coast, just spend the time in the Ssese Islands and Mwanza. We'll do some overland travel and then head back to Nairobi. This makes sense. We'll take the ferry from Entebbe to the islands. But we thought it would be just a short trip to Entebbe. Steve, the Hideaway owner, gave us the wide "panic eyes" and said, "you're pushing it, you'll be lucky if you get the boat!"

Rush-hour traffic, a crazy taxi park and then a 45-minute ride. It was well after 3pm but we (us + Sandy, the off-balance German anxious to leave town after his 2nd fling in two countries) walked to the pier hopefully... and... the ferry hadn't even arrived! We encountered a spoiled young American couple who just BITCHED about the boat being late (good for us, though) and a very easy-going couple from New Zealand, Angela and Sharpie, who joined us at the Hornbill Campsite.

A nice sunset cruise over Lake Victoria and we arrived in the dark to an island with no electricity. After enduring many attempts to lead us elsewhere, we found our spot. And in the process woke up the owner, Dicker or Dinker (or something close), an ex-pat from Germany. He set up the "bar" with candles, good music and the last of the beer. He had someone run out for more and told us, "I've been waiting 2 days for ice." A local boat captain arrived and Dicker rolled a big one and then another and we're all quite happy to be here, minus the bitchy Americans. I love a bar in a remote place!

We felt for a spot in the darkness, set up the tent and I slept like a log. When the sun came up, I could see how absolutely remarkable this place is. We're right at the beach in a green and grassy and buggy forest. The "bar" is a makeshift shelter of tree limbs, plastic bags and grass. What character! If we were stuck here for a month (with food and beer) it would be okay.

Well, the food part is the biggest obstacle, apparently. You must order in the morning if you want dinner and the "kitchen" here seems to have an average delivery time of about 1 1/2 hours for breakfast. Once food's made, there's the challenge of keeping it away from the aggressive and impish Vervet monkey who nabbed a chapati from some poor Belgian guy. Plus side: no electric, no t.v., no running water (I'd almost be disappointed if there WERE a shower). There's beer, ganga and "happy soda" (Krest and waragi) every night. This is unspoiled natural beauty. The kind of remote island you'd expect to see on a postcard. In a way, I really envy the owners living here.


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