First of all, I apologise to all Subscribers who likely received several random Blog Post emails today.  I was trying to fix the video function, which I have, and didn’t realize I was posting as I was trying to sort it out.  Totally my bad.  Turns out the video issue was user error all along, no surprise there.  Ha!  Ah well, apologies once again and onward we go.

Greetings from Johannesburg!  Well, really the outskirts of Johannesburg…out by the airport.  Ha! I flew overnight from Kigali, Rwanda and landed Joburg around 2:30am today.  I had originally planned to stay in central Joburg for 3 or so days, but hearing how rough/dangerous it is from so very many people including a number who live here, I decided not to mess with it, especially at 2.30 in the morning. 

My plan is to enjoy a lay day here at the lovely Sunrock Guesthouse, which really is lovely, before picking up my rental car tomorrow morning to begin a 7 week roadtrip which will ultimately end in Cape Town by February 29, since that is the day I fly home.

Before we turn our eyes to South Africa though, let’s have a really quick wrap up of Uganda.

We can begin with the Golden Monkeys.  Two days after my gorilla trek, I found myself staying just outside the gate of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (sister park to Bwindi) where I went trekking to see the Golden Monkeys. It was such a lovely walk through beautiful forest and not nearly as difficult as Bwindi, for which I was grateful. Plus, I connected with a delightful mother and son from Italy.  They were as enjoyable as seeing the monkeys.  Win-Win.

Point of note:  if you are going to see the gorillas and the golden monkeys in Uganda, I recommend seeing the monkeys first, because anything will pale in comparison if you see the gorillas first. Ha!  

The day ended up being quite cloudy and misty which kept the monkeys high in the canopy much of the time, but I was able to catch the odd shot including the banner photo, which I love. 

These folks below come from the community every morning to welcome and dance for the guests, explaining the dances as they go along.  The two ladies in front work at the little lodge where I stayed and the one on the left and I are now Friends on WhatsApp.  Her name is Clemensia and we got on from the moment I arrived. And that tall man in the middle is a walking smile. I swear, it must start in his heart and radiate out like the rays of the sun, touching everyone in the vicinity. I ran into him a few times walking the road and you’d have thought he’d won the lottery.  Amazing.

While the music and dancing is a bit much to take in at 7:30 in the morning, I surely appreciate their effort and enthusiasm in welcoming all comers.

 So now we will move on to the Weaver Birds because they make me laugh and because I got some great photos. Ha!  

Weaver Birds crack me up!  You see, in order to attract a mate, the male Weaver must weave a nest.  The better the nest, the easier to attract a mate.  It is my understanding, the male will call out to a female who will stop by to have a looksee at the nest and if she decides it is unworthy, she will scoff at it loudly and tear it apart to show her disdain.  Only the best nests will win a mate.  I took these photos from the upper deck at the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Remember?  The place where I tried to get into the wrong bungalow?

To set the stage, we first have a tree full of nests.  Then a male at his nest.  And finally, a couple of Weavers just hanging out in the afternoon sunshine, waiting for the universal signal to suddenly stop singing and twittering about and go to bed. I haven’t gotten as proficient as I would like with my new camera, but these birds and nests gave me lots of much needed practice.  The second two are the best photos out of about 2-3 dozen taken.

What next?  Oh yeah, more Gorilla videos for those of you asking for more.  One thing I now remember is to take video in landscape mode for better viewing like the dancers above, rather than vertical like all the gorilla videos.  I will try to remember.

And to wrap up, just a few random shots I’d like to share.  First up is the Marabou Stork, native to sub-Saharan Africa.  This one is WAY up in a tree at the place I stayed in the round hut with the awesome interior.  It was mating season and in the evening one of these guys would claim the top of a tree until another came to battle him for it.  It was quite the audio visual show.

And this bird goes by many names, two of which are the Crested Crane and the Grey Crowned Crane.  It is the National Bird of Uganda.  Not such a great photo, but I was lucky to catch a pair in a marsh not far from Bwindi.

And finally, we have Herbert and the van.  Herbert drove me around for 9 days all the while looking out for and taking great care of me.  He is a gentle and kind man who grew up not far from MgaHinga National Park.  While he now lives in the big city of KampaIa, I saw where he went to Primary School, where his brother and mother live, and said hello to many of his friends and extended family as we drove past. 

Point of note:  Drivers/Guides do not stop to chat with friends and family when there is a Muzungu in the van.  It is not considered professional.  All locals knows this. 

He and the community used to get their water from the stream below, many kilometers from his house.  It is in the National Park now though, so water is retrieved from another source in the community.

Back to the van. While our trip was only 9 days and that van is 25 years old, he had it washed and cleaned 3 times.  He loves that van.  Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with it along with the roads of Uganda and their love of rumble strips in general, but I love that he loves it.

Stay tuned for tales from South Africa.  I feel there will be many to tell.

Until next time…

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