First Weekend Getaway – Lake Bunyonyi

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June 19th 2014
Published: June 19th 2014
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This is going to be nice and short, to balance out the last few longer ones! (. . . also the power is out and my battery is going to die.)

It's finally time for Leandra and I to have our first free weekend since leaving home, so we decided to take off to beautiful Lake Bunyonyi! Lake Bunyonyi is a short distance away from Kabale and is known for its beauty and having many small islands scattered within the lake (29, I believe).

We checked into our oh-so-simple $10 per night room – simple as in it only had beds, and about half a light bulb – and decided to have some lunch and a beer on the patio over looking the lake. My friends know how much I can't resist a chance to have a patio beer! A couple brews, and a decent buzz later, we decided it was time to jump into a rickety canoe, and paddle out to the middle of the third deepest lake in all of Africa. Without life jackets. Because they cost extra. . . about 75 cents. Oh, and the canoe was actually a hollowed out eucalyptus
How gravel is made, African styleHow gravel is made, African styleHow gravel is made, African style

Chipping small chucks off bit by bit
tree, but don't worry the patches for the holes were made out of rusty metal. Oh, and one of the paddles was broken. And did I mention I can't swim? But hey, when in Africa!

Once we got the hang of how to properly maneuvre the canoe (proper paddles would have been helpful), we had a really nice and relaxing time paddling around the lake, checking out the people and the homes along the bank. We came across a group of children along the water's edge who started singing songs about “muzungus” as soon as they saw us. We paddled a little closer just to be able to see them better and hear their songs more clearly. And to take pictures, obviously. Suddenly they all jumped into the water and quickly started to swim our way. Our first thoughts were “Shit! They're going to tip the canoe!” Fearing for our lives, and not wanting to chance Leandra's digital SLR camera sinking to the bottom of the lake with us, we frantically attempted to paddle away (aka make a couple 360 degree turns before aligning the canoe in a general “away-from-the-swimming-kids” direction). Yeah maybe it sounds like we're paranoid assholes, but the kids were creepy and scary, and incredibly fast swimmers!

After a long day on the water, and a bit of a sunburn later. . . ok severe sunburn, in Leandra's case. . .we went back to shore. Honestly nothing too exciting to report here. We had a big supper, a few too many drinks and called it a night!

We woke up bright and early the next morning to about three different alarm clocks going off every few minutes from the people in the surrounding rooms. As well as the sounds of voices, coughing, and suitcases zipping. And crashes and bangs of crows jumping on the tin roof above our heads. Apparently, there is a downside to budget travelling. After breakfast, we hired a motorboat driver to take us on a tour of the lake and islands that we couldn't see by canoe. We had also heard of a traditional healer at the lake, and were told to request to see him as well. Fortunately for us, our driver knew where he lived and offered to take us to see him during the tour.

Getting into the boat I was thinking, that despite having to pay a little more because it was just the two of us doing the tour, it'll be nice to have a private tour as we can request where we want to go. As soon as the boat pulled away, our driver turned to us saying, “first, we're going to pick up some friends”. Turns out, when the tour boat isn't full, it also doubles as the lake taxi.

The boat eventually dropped all the other passengers off at their homes and pulled into a bank. We climbed to the top of a steep, rocky hill and were pleased to find fantastic views of the lake. As one of the drivers ran further up the hill, the other explained that we were at “something, something” part of the lake. “Ohhhh. . .” we responded enthusiastically, not knowing what he was saying or understanding where we were. Pointing to a grass hut, he said this is where so-and-so lived. “Oooohhh. . . cool. . .” we replied, even though we had no clue who he was talking about. After Leandra and I took a few pictures, we waited for the other guide so we could head back to the boat, but nothing happened. The other eventually returned, and they started speaking in their native language, and just stared at us. We just stood there awkwardly, giving each other looks of “what is going on?”. We weren't sure if we should leave or just keep standing there, so we just waited. Eventually, another man came down from the top of the hill. “This is so-and-so,” our guides introduced us. Who the hell is this man?? After a couple minutes of everyone staring at the blank looks on our faces, they finally, slowly explained that this man was the traditional healer and we were at his home. Ohhhhh! Everything made sense once again. More or less.

The healer invited us into his hut, where he proceeded to get changed into layers of different animal hides. The guides lit some coals and became our translators, as the healer doesn't speak any English. He then showed us all his medicine, explained what ailment they were for, and the bowls and equipment he uses in his practice. We learned that he had six wives, all nurses, and was the leader of the village
we were at, consisting of about 80 people. Also, lucky for us, he now wears clothes under his traditional garments, to “appease the younger generation”. When he finished, we asked him a few questions about his work and the people he sees. We didn't really know what to expect when we saw him, and were painfully unprepared, resulting in a few long, awkward silences when we had nothing left to ask. Everyone then stood up to leave, the healer gave us each a hug, and as we turned to walk away he requested that we give him a gift of 100,000 shillings. Are you kidding me?? Because the whole experience left me stunned, and I didn't want to offend him (and partly because he knows Dr. Anguyo), I just forked over the money without any debate. We knew we would have to pay something to see him, we just were not expecting it to be that much. Later we were told that the price was actually pretty standard, and he could have asked for more. But to pour salt in the open wound, we also were told that our team back at Kihefo, was going to be visiting him in a couple weeks. . . for free.

Anyways, we got back into the boat and visited a couple islands before making our way back to shore. One was called Punishment Island, where in the past, women who got pregnant out of wedlock were exiled there and left to starve to death. It was the tiniest and saddest looking island I had ever seen, with only one living tree on it. It is unsure how many women actually died there though, as we were told that many fishermen who could not afford the dowry for a wife would stop by the island and “rescue” a woman to make them their bride. After, we visited the much more beautiful Bushara island, where we wandered around admiring the scenery and landscape.

Later that evening, the rest of the Kihefo team joined us at the lake, where we hung out on the patio and had another beer before making our way back to town. And like before, riding in style in the ambulance.

Nice and short, like I said! Again, the “subscribe” option on this page doesn't work, so if you want receive emails when I post just private message me on here or on Facebook so I can manually add your email address to the list. Take care! xoxo

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Top of the world!Top of the world!
Top of the world!

aka before we realized we were at the healer's home
Spoiling ourselvesSpoiling ourselves
Spoiling ourselves

(with a $15 meal)
Prehistoric mothPrehistoric moth
Prehistoric moth

the bugs here are HUGE!

Tot: 2.313s; Tpl: 0.031s; cc: 10; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0332s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb