Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Giving credit where credit is due

Just a short final entry to let family and friends know we're back in the US safe and sound. It was a wonderful trip and speaking to security concerns for just a minute - there weren't any. Motorcycle trips are kind of like flying: uneventful is often a very good thing, and on this trip such was the case. We saw very little in the way of a police or military presence and there was nothing at all that gave us any cause for concern.

But I have to give credit where credit is due. For those of you that ride I think you'll agree; there's no better way to travel but riding is a lot of things but the one thing it isn't, is easy. Especially long distance travel on a VStrom. It's a great bike and nothing is better for some of the roads we covered but after a few long back-to-back days a Gold Wing starts to look good. (Shhh.... don't tell her I said that!)

But the credit that's due isn't for my bike, it's for my wonderful, hard-working and oh, so patient wife. We covered some hard miles on this trip and she was a real trooper, especially through Chihuahua rush-hour traffic but nothing compared to what she endured today. And endured is the only way I can describe it. There was no joy in today's ride. No adventure to be had, no scenery to be seen - no, today was just that; a test of stamina, will and endurance and she came through with flying colours.

Last night in Chihuahua all the news reports from El Paso Texas were full of warnings and advisories telling motorists to stay off the roads and to avoid all unnecessary travel. WIND WARNING, CODE RED, STAY OFF THE ROADS were just a few of the flashing red warnings that scrolled across the screen. What we didn't count on or even consider was even though we were 200 klm southwest, the storm they were warning of was actually blowing west to east and was originating - and blowing through - the path we were taking. And blow it did - hard! - all day. Sustained winds of 25-45 miles per hour with gusts to 55 miles per hour - all freak'n day! And with the wind comes the dust...... and the tumbleweeds......

And please believe me when I say it's not hyperbole; this was honestly one of the hardest rides I've ever endured. I've ridden through snow storms on the Hope-Princeton, torrential rain on more occasions than I can count, temperatures that were both frigid and brutally hot, but never, not ever, have I ridden for eight hours with a non-stop white knuckle death grip on the bars like I did today. For most of it we were both hunched over the tank as low as we could get to give as low a profile as possible, all the while praying that the Semi's coming at us didn't blow into our lane or at the very least, gave us some warning before they did so we could try to keep out of the way.  And lets not forget the few kilometers through the mountains where hundreds of tumble weeds all of a sudden blew onto a long stretch of highway and I couldn't avoid them because of their speed and ferocity. Nothing puckers the ol sphincter like a series of tumbleweeds literally exploding against your windscreen and fairing while you pray they're all as flimsy as they look.

And finally, one other little tidbit that makes it so exciting - for most of the last half of the trip there was no shoulder on the road to speak of, paved or otherwise - so "pulling over" was never an option.

We arrived in Douglas five hours ago dog tired, hot, dusty and weary and more than a little shaken from the experience and it may be a while before Rosi agrees to go on another ride. But no matter if or when she rides again she can hold her head up today with the best of them.

Signing off for the last time (on this trip anyway) from Douglas AZ

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Of Mice and Men

The best laid plans can often go awry, but not always in a bad way.

We've been on the road since Thursday and as anyone that rides knows, and more important rides in Mexico, it's a different time scale and a different world. 6-8 hour days on the bike are looooooong days in the saddle and cute quaint Mexican hotels, as darling as they are, often have beds designed by the Marquis de Sade. And what is it with Mexican bed and sheet manufacturers? Would it be too much to ask to have the sheets actually fit the bed? But nooooo, that would be too easy. It's much better to have them pull away during the night so you end up in a disheveled mess by the morning. But such is life and it's the price we willingly pay to experience the true Mexico. And at $58/night including breakfast and dinner one can't nit pic too much over fitted sheets, can one?

But sometimes the best laid plans change and not always for the worse - sometimes  for the better.

We woke up yesterday with the full intention of riding out to a close-by lake and taking in some more of the sights in Creel. Our original plan was then to leave Creel today and take a secondary rode north which would by-pass the Chihuahua freeway system (or as Rosi would call it, hell on earth) and eventually spit us out in Nuevo Casas Grande, a really nice little Mexican town not far south of the border. From there it would be a long but easily doable one-day ride home.  

But two things changed. We started thinking about safety and as much as we've never - not once - felt anything remotely threatening down here, discretion played the better part of valour and we decided we should ride through Chihuahua, city traffic or not, because from there we can stick to the better traveled toll roads. And with this in mind, and knowing it was a little longer ride, we decided to leave Creel a day early. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous  morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and by 10:00 it was really warming up and the high-mountain road out of Creel just begged to be ridden.

So off we went; a great ride on a sunny day on fantastic roads, and like the Yellow Brick Road, it eventually spit us out at Oz. Or in our case, that bastion of civility, that which knows no compromise, the Holiday Inn Express! It was a a VERY stressful last half-hour navigating the eight-lane freeway through the centre of the city to get here (especially when a large truck in front of us dodged out of the way to avoid the big piece of cardboard that then blew directly into our path)  but once we arrived it was all worth it.

We're in a large room with a king bed, high-end linens and a luxurious bathroom with a massage shower head and HOT HOT water. Muy Bueno! And I can't tell you how much we enjoyed the free happy hour in the lobby last night with an open bar of wine, beer and drinks and enough "snacks" to make dinner unnecessary, and the hot breakfast buffet this morning was superb!

Which brings us to our change of plans. This morning, when we should have been climbing back in the saddle for another six hours to the border, we decided to spend an extra day here in Chihuahua.

Chihuahua has a history going back to the 1700's when it was first settled by the Spanish but more recently, in the early 1900's it was the headquarters of the Mexican Revolutionary Army of the North lead by Pancho Villa.

Lately it's better known as a large, modern, sprawling city of just less than a million people and a hub for industry, commerce and agriculture. There are large north-american styled suburbs and modern shopping districts right next to huge Mexican housing developments and mega-factories with names like Ford, Honeywell and Toshiba, all pumping out merchandise for shipment north and abroad.

The downtown core though is replete with lovely parks, the presidential palace and several fantastic museums all within walking distance of the main town square. Most north-american tourists, those few that there are, only stay long enough to board the train to the Copper Canyon but for the Mexican tourists and locals the downtown central historical district is a hub of activity and we enjoyed every minute of it. The absolute highlight of the day however was the visit to Casa Villa, the home of Pancho Villa, both for it's excellent museum and the great way it offered education and some perspective on general Villa's influence and contribution to what is now modern Mexico.

It's now late in the day and we've settled down in our (very nice) room for a bit of a Siesta before we make our way to the lobby bar for drinks and snacks.

Viva Mexico!
Outside facade of Casa de Villa

The car Pancho Villa was assassinated in

Interior courtyard of Casa de Villa

Second floor sidewalk cafe overlooking one of the pedestrian malls in downtown Chihuahua

Typical interior courtyard of  a government building downtown 

Pedestrian mall - I'm much happier than I look! :-)

Just one of many downtown parks and churches

Rosi always smiles better than me when she gets her picture taken!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hola from the heart of the Copper Canyon

Hola Mi Amigo's and Mi Familia

If you've found this blog by accident or mistake it just a few rambling thoughts from the road as Rosi and I continue our motorcycle travels as time and circumstance permits.

This time around we're on a bit of a quick trip south to the Copper Canyon to get a little riding in and to revisit an area we loved but which was too cold to explore last time we were here. Hard to believe it's been almost ten years!

The Copper Canyon is 1,000 feet deeper and three times larger in area than the Grand Canyon in Arizona and an amazing place. Last time we bused from AZ to Los Mochis and caught the train in but this time we decided to try a more adventurous route; two-up on our Suzuki DL650 VStrom.

We left Phoenix around noon on Thursday and rode approx five hours to the Mexican border where we crossed into Agua Prieta to spend the first night. And for those of you considering this type of trip but a little apprehensive about the border crossing I have to tell you, it couldn't be easier. I pre-ordered online all my Mexican customs paperwork so all we had to do at the border was pop into an office to have our passports stamped and we were on our way in less than 15 minutes. From there it was just a few minutes down the road to our hotel where we stored the bike in a secure compound and we made our way to the hotel restaurant for the first of many great authentic Mexican meals.

The only downside was the wind. The ride down was clear and warm but it was really windy once we got south of Tucson. Not dangerously so but enough that it kept us on our toes and it's really fatiguing after a while so were were glad to call it a day when we did.

Friday was a long day through northern Mexico from the border to Chihuahua. And as much as we both love all things Mexico, northern Mexico, not so much. It's just miles and miles of miles and miles. The weather was good albeit a little cooler than we expected and overcast for much of the ride but not too bad and the only negative aspect of the day was arriving in Chihuahua itself, which is HUGE. It's a typical, very chaotic, large Mexican city and a necessary evil that is more to be endured than enjoyed. But all's well that ends well and in this case we arrived safe and sound at our destination; a large, very well run, conference hotel with a great restaurant, a good sized bar and the ever necessary secure parking. Ahhhhh....... Muy Bueno.

Saturday, (yesterday) was another exciting day of riding in Mexico except this time we climbed high into the Sierra Madre so we saw much better scenery. It was amazingly similar to the pine forests at home and kind of surreal in a way. At first we had heavy overcast and it was quite cold but by noon the clouds parted and the temperatures rose so that when we arrived in Creel around 1:00 it was hot hot hot.

Today was fantastic - the whole point of the trip. We started out with a 8 klm hike into the surrounding mountains to visit a Taramuhara Indian village and to view some of the cool rock formations that we couldn't see last time because it was too cold. We did great, especially considering Creel is over 2,300 meters - or close to a mile and a half high for those of you metrically challenged. :-) No wonder we were a little winded on the uphill bits.

Then this afternoon we rode out on a VERY twisty but well paved road to an overlook area 50 klm from town where we rode a cable car from one peak to the next. It was AMAZING. Apparently it's the third highest/longest cable car in the world and it's longer and higher than the peak-to-peak at Whistler.

We're now back in a very cute and very quaint small family hotel while we rest up for another day of riding and site seeing tomorrow. This time to a lake about 10 klm from town, and then on Tuesday we'll start making our way home.

There's one bit of sad news to pass on though. There's a very noticeable lack of tourists every where we've been. In Chihuahua it wasn't an issue because the hotel was chockablock full with Mexican business people and some obvious conference attendees but in Creel things are way too quiet. Businesses are looking a little forlorn and unless things turn around with the security situation a lot of people here in Creel are going to be hurting - a lot.

Adios Mi Amigos
Signing off from Creel Mexico
Dale and Rosi
The second cable car as we passed it going in the other direction

View from the cable car

A typical Mexican highway toll booth

Getting ready to leave on Saturday morning

The courtyard of our hotel in Creel

Typical high mountain road 

Valley of the Frogs - can you see it? BTW, it's 20' high

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Signing off from Kampala Uganda

I can’t believe it but it’s now been two weeks since I left home and like all good things, it eventually has to end.

Today was our last official day in Uganda. This morning all eight of us in-country left the hotel en masse and travelled the few short blocks to the downtown offices of the Uganda Cooperative Association. UCA is the umbrella organization for cooperatives in Uganda and the Ugandan partner organization to the Canadian Cooperative Association, the Canadian organization that funds and administers the credit union coaching program.

There were eight Canadian credit union coaches and the CCA African Program Director, and we were joined by our UCA counterparts; the executive director, the program manager, the micro finance manager and four field officers. Throw in the German cooperative association representative and the CCA intern who’s working in Uganda for three months and we had enough for two very cooperative, very diverse baseball teams! J

It was a great opportunity to compare notes and analyze the pros and cons of what worked and what didn’t for the in-country program in general, and the impact we had on the individual credit unions. Our hosts filled us in on their next steps and how they plan on helping the SACCO’s to implement our suggestions and recommendations and it was great to be validated. They really appreciate us volunteering out time, energy and resources and it feels good knowing that in our own small way we each made a difference.

I’m now at that awkward stage between still being here and heading out. We’re checked out of our rooms and we’ve moved our bags into two hospitality suites so we can shower and change if we want but really all we’re doing is hanging out and marking time until we finally load back up into our vans for the final drive out to the Entebbe airport at 9:00 to catch our eight-hour flight to London. I’ll be in London for two days because we have a final debrief with CCA representatives from Ottawa to examine the entire program. We’ll look at the effectiveness of the pre-departure briefing, the overall in-country program and the logistics of putting it all together. It’s an intense all day exercise and I wish I was just heading home but it's a necessary part of the process to ensure the success of the program going forward. I’ll have a little time for site seeing but I’ll probably spend a lot of the two days just hanging out and resting while I try to assimilate the sights, sounds and smells of the last two weeks.

It’s been an incredible experience and I’m truly grateful but more than anyone I have to thank my wife, Rosalie for her love and support. She’s my staunchest ally and my closest confidante and only through her love and support have I been able to take part in these incredible journeys.

So here’s a big heartfelt thank you to you Rosi, I’ll see you in just a few more days.

Signing off for the last time from hot, humid Kampala, Uganda!

Audry and I and Michael and Adad on the drive back to Kampala



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My new mantra, don't let them see you cry

 Where to begin. Today was a bit emotional – more so than I would have expected. I didn’t embarrass myself, or worse, embarrass my co-worker or CCA, but I have to admit I got a little choked up and I was in a bit of awe with the story we were told and the member we met.  

We finished our two day coaching session with Koboko United SACCO this morning and keeping to the schedule CCA has established we finished our visit with a site visit to one of the SACCO clients so we could learn first-hand how members are benefitting from an avenue to establish savings accounts and access to much needed capital.

Today’s visit was just like the last; we were introduced to an entrepreneurial businessman who saw an opportunity and has used loans from the SACCO to buy equipment and material to start a business and through this, he’s improved his circumstances and those of his family and the community – but that’s where the similarities ended. For his story was much different than the last.

But first some background. I haven’t done much research but I’m sure a Google search or an inquiry to Wikipedia would reveal that this area was carved up fairly arbitrarily by the colonial powers of the time, France, Belgium and England, which ended up with The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan (and now South Sudan) and Uganda. The problem with an arbitrary demarcation on a map is it often has little to do with local ethnicity, familial ties or even natural boundaries. And so it is here. The border between Uganda and Sudan and the DRC is spoken of often but the reality is it’s a fairly abstract concept to the local inhabitants. People come and go as they please, families live on both sides of all three borders and both SACCO’s we dealt with have members in all three countries. And it’s within this context that we met David.

And I’m going to apologize in advance for what seems like informality but the Ugandan custom is to introduce yourself by your usual given name and so I don’t have David’s actual family name so that I can now show the proper respect that I’d like.

David is the owner, chief administrator and driving force behind the Eden Primary School, a private school offering education services in Koboko to students from 3 – 13 years old which includes kindergarten to P-7, the equivalent to our grade 7.

 David is a local Ugandan but when he was a young child his father was killed in the Ugandan civil war and he became the head of his household. At the time it was only natural for him to take on the mantle of responsibility and take him, his two very young, younger brothers and his mother, and move the entire family to Sudan and set up new roots. In Sudan he took on the role of head of the household and being extremely bright himself and a task master when it came to education, he completed his schooling and insisted both of his brothers do the same.

All three brothers completed their primary and secondary educations and David was doing so well he was poised to commence his university training as a doctor when fighting broke out again, except this time in Sudan and once again David and his family had to flee, this time back to their ancestral home, Uganda. And it’s here the story really takes off.

In 2003 David moved his family and all their possessions back to Koboko and he eventually became a founding member of Koboko United Savings and Credit Cooperative. David had to give up his dream of becoming a doctor but not his commitment to education so he acquired a Batchelor’s degree in education, obtained a teaching certificate and in 2008 he formed the private primary school, Eden Primary School. I also have to mention he just completed his Master’s degree and both his brothers have bachelors degree’s, with his brother Paul also teaching in the school.  

Public school is free in Uganda but it is underfunded and ill-equipped to deal with the demands put upon it. It’s not uncommon to see public school class sizes of 200 students and the quality of education isn’t anywhere near high enough to prepare students for continuing education. It’s because of this that private schools are so popular and it’s this market niche that Eden Primary school is looking to fill. And make no mistake. David is a businessman and Eden Primary School is a for-profit enterprise, just like any thriving business back at home. But just like our credit unions and the SACCO’s, profit isn’t the issue, it’s what you do with those profits that makes a difference and what sets you apart; and what a difference Eden Primary School is making!

The school started off small, just 300 students, but in 2013 they finished the year with more than 800 students! And they’re on track for more than 1,000 in the very near future. They’ve already acquired a large plot of land to develop a secondary school for their now graduating primary students and they have big plans, very big plans, for the future. But just like credit unions, a major part of their business plan is centred on giving back to their community. The school may be for-profit but it finds the time and resources to offer free tuition to over 150 students each year. These include orphans whose parents have been killed in the conflict in Sudan, the gifted children of poor farmers that can’t afford to send their children to a private school and the children of clergy working in their communities with very limited means. And free tuition often includes free board because the school hosts more than 100 students on a full time basis, offering them a safe haven and a structured home life they would never otherwise have.

We met the staff and toured the facilities and the moment that struck me the most was when we were introduced to the “gifted” new grade 7 class preparing for the new year’s classes. Apparently the school year doesn’t actually start until February and their teacher apologized to us because they weren’t yet in their school uniforms. Because you see, technically it’s illegal to start early so the students had to “sneak” into class and can’t put on their uniforms until classes officially start next week.

These students are gifted alright, but in ways they can never imagine.

Signing off in Urua Uganda and feeling oh so humble and just a little overwhelmed.

When you look at the pictures please understand the school is in the midst of last minute preparation for the student’s arrival next week. What looks undone will be ready and waiting for a mad rush of young people when school commences

New desks under construction

A school poster

The school playground

A list of teaching and non-teaching staff

Words some of our students would be good to learn

David, my inspiration!

Some of the teaching staff preparing for the new school year

The "gifted" students sneaking in to start class early

The new classroom being built with money from a loan from the SACCO

Our new friends! 

Final preparations on the dormitories

The school staff


Back in the saddle again......

Greetings everyone from hot and humid Koboko, where the rain is falling heavily and the sky is lit up in the most incredible light show and I’m definitely over my blue funk. I won’t be able to post this until tomorrow because of intermittent internet but I’m typing it now so I can get my thoughts out while they’re fresh.

They warn us in our pre-departure training about the highs and lows of international development work and yesterday I definitely hit the “wall”. A combination of too much sun, too much sweat, too much rich food and the shock of going from really basic accommodation to the height of luxury and then back again, coupled with back-to-back four-hour drives, and I was definitely at an emotional low last night. The water and toilet didn’t work, the power was out, my room/cell was an absolute oven and the hotel next door – which is normally so quiet I wondered if it was abandoned – was the site for a Rave to commemorate a local holiday. The disco music and live band cranked up, and I mean REALLY cranked up, at 8:00 and didn’t stop until 4:30. Audrey and I both have rooms that back right onto the music and if we got two hours sleep all night that was it.

So I should have woken up – if that’s what you call it when you never really got to sleep in the first place – in a foul mood and if anything even lower emotionally than the night before. But great things can happen with a little sleep (in this case very little) and some much needed perspective. We both woke up with a laugh about the whole thing and chalked it up to one more part of the experience. “This is Africa!” This morning the water was back on, the heat was just a little less oppressive and the eggs were fresh (thanks in part to the chickens that wander freely throughout the compound and on occasion into the restaurant)…… and so began another day in Koboko!

Today we spent the day meeting with the board and staff of arguably the most successful SACCO in the immediate region. They have sound books, great business practices and they own their own building and equipment. It may not be much by our standards; bare concrete walls, old furniture and the bare essentials, but to them it’s proof positive of their commitment to their community and their members. And I have to agree. Audrey and I spent a day being grilled over general and specific items and often had to really put on out thinking caps to give them the advice they were looking for.

Not everything will translate to a Ugandan setting, but some (and you’d be surprised how much) will really help them out. They soaked up like a sponge whatever experience and knowledge we could share but don’t think for a minute this was another example of the developed world showing their African counterparts how to finally do things “right”. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was an exchange of ideas amongst equals. This board and this staff are an experienced, educated group of professionals and it’s only by circumstance that it was us visiting them. With very little training and just some opportunity there isn’t one of them that couldn’t be a successful executive back in Canada and I felt honoured and privileged to be able to work with them. And more than a little intimidated. Several of the board members are full time teachers and professors by profession and sit on the board as volunteers. I was VERY away of my grammar and syntax when I was answering questions.  

Their version of English and ours may have differences, and their accents and ours may have gotten in the way or made us all repeat a few things, but the SACCO members in northwest Uganda are in very good hands. The board of Koboko Unitied SACCO told us their long-term goal is to grow to the point where they can compete with the commercial banks now doing business in this district. What do I think? I think HSBC should be afraid, very afraid.
Signing off under a mosquito net and typing by the pulsating light that only a Ugandan generator and compact fluorescent bulbs can produce. Hot, sweaty and tired but never prouder to be Canadian and REALLY glad I left Scotiabank 17 years ago to work for my first credit union.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Luxury on the African Savannah

Yesterday and today; amazing, fatiguing and overwhelming, all at the same time.

We finished with our last CU on Friday afternoon and travelled the short but brutally rough stretch of road to Arua where we checked into a nice business hotel early so Audrey and I could write our report. And it was maybe at this point where my inner clock or whatever it is that guides our emotions started to tilt just a bit. Whatever it was, it started to bother me that here I was, in a nice hotel with electricity, running water and cold beer delivered on demand, when just beyond the walls of the compound was a teaming city, busy with commerce but filled with people that will never get beyond the gate, so to speak. Even our driver and the field rep from UCA; both educated full-time staff, weren’t able to stay with us and instead stayed in alternative accommodation in town. I know it’s the reality of the world we live in – and I’m eternally grateful to UCA and CCA for finding us the great hotels that they did – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that on some level I’m not quite in sync today. Or as my brother-in-law would say, I’m just not feeling the love. (Stevie, I miss you!)

Maybe it’s just the heat and all the driving and I’ll be better after a good night’s sleep because what I saw yesterday and today was beyond amazing.

We left Arua at 7:30 and drove approx. 1 ½ hours to hook up with some of the other members of our team where they’re staying in Nebbi. It was great to see familiar faces and compare notes and experiences and it just felt right that we were back together. From there it was another hour to the entrance gate of Murchison Falls National Park and then 25 klm to the Paraa Safari Lodge. OMG! It was like Out of Africa, replete with all the amenities you would expect at a luxury lodge in the middle of the African savannah. At the park gate we were greeted by a small group of Elephants and then on the drive in we saw all kinds of antelope and even some giraffe.

At the lodge itself we were greeted at the door by welcoming courteous staff and handed a moist cool towel and a tall cold drink of juice to help wash down the dust while we checked in. From there it was lunch and libations on the poolside deck, a quick shower to freshen up and then our first adventure; a luxury boat cruise on the Nile. The freak’n Nile! Can you believe it?  We cruised for over three hours from the resort to the base of Murchison Falls and back and we saw some fantastic wildlife; LOTS of Hippo’s, (they’re everywhere!) Elephants, Crocodiles and all kinds of Wart Hogs and Antelope. It was truly amazing and I had to pinch myself more than once.

After the cruise we headed back to the resort for a much deserved swim in the pool and a few more libations at the swim up bar. But it was a little surreal to think that I’d spent over 12 hours in a car over the past four days and not once since leaving Kampala had I seen anyone at all that would have been able to enter the gates let alone afford the prices. For the SACCO members I was dealing with this might as well have been Mars for as close as they will ever get to a swim up bar - and that bothers me. I’m not going to get on a soap box about the disparity of wealth in the world and I’m not convicted enough to forgo these luxuries myself, but it did make me feel a little guilty and it does cause you to pause once in a while to consider it, and it should REALLY make all of us grateful for what we have.

But enough maudlin introspection, the remainder of the stay was just as great as the beginning. We enjoyed a fantastic buffet dinner taken on the verandah and retired early because this morning we all got up early for a 6:00 start to a four-hour game drive through the park. It was amazing; Giraffe, Antelope, Birds, Wart Hogs and Buffalo – but the most amazing siting was a male Lion with a fresh kill! Pinch me, am I really here?!

But all good things must come to an end so we had a quick breakfast after our return and Audrey and I loaded back up with Michael and Adid and made the four-hour journey over rough roads back to Koboko where we’ll meet with the credit union board and staff in the morning.

Last night was drinks at the swim up bar and tonight it’s intermittent power, cold water and a VERY limited menu in the restaurant. And again, over four hours of driving thorough any number of towns and settlements and not one person who could afford the entrance fee to their own national park. But when you’re a six year old girl and you have to walk miles in the heat just to fetch water for your family, is a park entrance really that important?
If me coming over to offer advice and support to a local grass roots credit union helps in some small way so that someday that young girl no longer has to carry water, then it’s all worth it.

 Feeling just a little homesick in Koboko Uganda



Elephants at the park entrance

My new African friends

Just a regular drive to the lodge

The lodge pool area

River Cruise

River Cruise

River Cruise

River Cruise

River Cruise

River Cruise

Lion with fresh kill - unfortunately we could hear the deer still crying  
Murchison Falls
Our safari vehicles