A Case Of Over-planning On Our Africa Trip?

Last updated on October 8th, 2019 at 10:33 am

In November, Nancy and I went on a tour by Natural Habitat Adventures to Uganda and Rwanda to photograph mountain gorillas.  For native Floridians like Nancy, the “mountain” in the name hints that this would be no ordinary hike, so she decided to schedule the trip before she got too old (since you never know when that might happen). On the trip, we did in fact hike on slippery mud trails in steep terrain, and Nancy was glad she didn’t wait too long.

Each person on the tour was assigned a porter on the gorilla hike to help with camera gear and stability. I had very specific instructions for my porter but was concerned about our ability to communicate (whatever we said, they would nod in agreement, but they weren’t all that great on the quiz that followed). These were my intended instructions:

  1. Tend to Nancy first (since she had more gear than I did).
  2. If the gorillas attacked –
    • Save Nancy!
    • Then it would be every man for himself.
    • But if it did come down to a foot race between our tour guide and I, kick him in the balls and run like hell.

At this point, we wouldn’t be running from the gorillas because our guide should be keeping them occupied while we escape. We were running because if the tour guide somehow survived, he was really going to be pissed (of course I would disavow any knowledge of the porter’s actions). And I was so specific about the kick not because I wanted to be overly graphic or cruel (I could have just had the porter trip him), but because of my concern about a communication error – if the porter got it backward and saved the guide first, I needed something in the instructions to keep him from executing that last part on Nancy.

Nancy and Bruce with their porters on hike to see mountain gorillas
Nancy and I and our porters at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda

Because of those communication difficulties (and time constraints), I was never able to fully explain Rule 2 to the porters, but it was just as well. I later learned that there has never been a case in which the mountain gorillas encountered on these tours did any harm to a tourist.

As it turned out the trip was outstanding and we got some great pictures (and we all lived to tell about it). With any luck, I’ll have a few images to show you by the start of our next art festival season.

Author: Bruce

Although I grew up in Garden Grove, California, I have lived here in South Miami longer than I've lived anywhere else in the world. I've been married to my wonderful wife, Nancy, longer than I was ever without her. We were both teachers. Nancy recently retired after 40 years. I have also spent time as an officer in the Coast Guard, a commercial property appraiser, and an electrical engineering student. Now I'm technical support for Bee Happy Graphics. That means I handle this blog, our web page, and all E-mail, I do all post-processing and printing of the images, I cut mats and glass and frames. If you have a technical question, I would be the one trying to answer it.

Your "two cents worth" is welcome (but I don't give change).

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