Gorillas: Part 4 – the final gorilla installment
The hour we had with the gorillas went way too fast. We followed the gorillas as they moved around. It felt like 20 minutes had passed when they told us our hour was over. Just before our time ended though, I think that a true highlight for everyone is when I was innocently walking along, hanging out with my gorilla friends, when the ground below me gave way and my foot was in a hole. I tried to pull my foot out, but it was stuck. Then my Spanish friend Isador gave me a hand and I yanked my foot out, but I quickly noticed that my foot did not bring with it my shoe. I stood there a bit helpless until Rita came to the rescue with her hook knife sword tool thing and fished my hiking boot out of the hole.
The rest of the day, everyone went out of their way to point out the smallest of holes anywhere in the vicinity of the trail. It was pretty ridiculous.
Hiking out the forest was pretty intense. It is still impenetrable, and now there is no promise of gorillas ahead of us. We were all completely exhausted. We eventually made our way up to a clearing where we could stop for lunch. Rachel and I were excited to sit down and discover what our lodge had packed for us. I don’t remember everything that was in our box lunches, but I remember it was interesting. There was for sure a hard-boiled egg, chicken, some unidentifiable fruit type of thing, and more. We were hungry enough that 98% of it was edible.
After we painstakingly made our way down that super steep hill that led into the impenetrable forest, we hiked back through the tea fields, past the houses, and to base camp, where we were greeted by our guides and drivers.
The drive back to the ranger station seemed to take 5 years. Once we got back, Rita gave us our certificates of accomplishment, and we headed to meet Joseph at the van.
He informed us that there was something wrong with the van, and we would need to hike back to the lodge (which, mind you, was at the top of a huge hill!) With scared eyes we searched Joseph’s face for some sign that he was surely joking, but alas, he was not. With much sadness and exhaustion, and thinking, “well, this is Africa” we cooled down from our 5 hours of intense hiking in the mountainous rain-forest with a hike up a big hill to our lodge. I think it is the saddest walk of the safari. There was nothing that could be done about it, and it was nobody’s fault (let’s be honest, it is a small miracle that the van survived those roads as well as it did), but it sucked. Sitting down in the middle of the road seemed like a better option that walking up it, but eventually we made it.
After lying down in utter exhaustion for a few minutes, we looked at pictures and clapped with delight as we re-lived our morning’s experiences. I decided that I was a sweaty mess and a shower was in order. Our maid stopped by soon after and saw my wet hair and was horrified that I had taken a cold shower (the generator was only on in the evenings).
My biggest regret of the day is that there was a chameleon by the neighboring room, but when the maid told us, I was way too tired to walk 50 ft to see it. I mentioned recently to Rachel that I was sad I hadn’t made the effort to see a real live chameleon. Then she reminded me that 1. we were physically unable to move. and 2. we saw gorillas.
So in the end, this is definitely on my list of top 4 life experiences.