Pastor Chris arrived, and laid out the plan for the day. Giraffes were the priority. It's been nice that he'd has a grip on all this. I did the whole checking out thing in the Lodge's office, and mercifully I had enough local currency, so there were no red faces! Ps Andrew had stayed over with us to avoid the tedious journey to-and-from Jinja. Our flight to Nairobi was 6.15pm, and we needed to allow up to three hours for the chaotic check-in that can easily happen at local airports. This would give us about three hours at the zoo park in Entebbe.
Len was buzzing around providing us all with a box of tea-with-ginger to squeeze in our cases and take home. Baggage all stowed, the friendly security guy let us out through the big gates for the last time. I'd joined Hilary and Janet in a car driven by Carole, one of Chris's leadership team. It was good to chat with them - they've done well in a situation where the guys have obviously had the bigger slice of the action. They're both resolved that they'll be back to give the Nairobi sewing project a boost, and we discussed that the Sundowner Apartments would be an ideal place to stay.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre isn't quite your average zoo, but houses mainly rescued animals as part of conservation promotion. Chris went off to pursue some deal for a discount and a chance to see Charlie the young elephant. Through the entrance turnstile we could see clouds of lake flies. "Insect repellent on!" Carole instructed.
Chris ushered us through the main reception. "They normally charge $70 to see Charlie, but it'll cost us nothing." He clearly has some influential connections - or he had persuaded someone that we were mighty important visitors. The zoo is fairly extensive, and has a selection of animal in each of the many fenced-off habitats. A couple of lionesses and a male played about in the shade under a distant tree, but our guide wasn't able to coax them nearer despite his calls. There was a pair of white rhinos, the broad-mouthed ones, that came very close and accepted a bunch of pampas grass from the guide's hand.
The leopard, we were told, was at some display going on in Kampala, but we found the the giraffes at home, and willing to stretch over the wire fencing to be fed from the viewing platform. Altogether delightful. Next, the guide told us to watch the male baboon's behaviour when it saw a man showing attention to a lady visitor. Sure enough he went mad, leaping against the cage sides.
Chris's phone rang, and he announced it was time to meet up with Charlie's keeper. We stood under the shade of a couple of trees, and the four-year-old swung into view, as the keeper walked ahead carrying a big pan of carrots, bananas and pineapple. We took it in turns to lift up the fruit at arms length while Charlie's amazing trunk took a hold and he happily munched away.
Back at the entrance, I settled up with Ps Andrew for the last lot of receipts and we got off to Entebbe Airport. Check-in was fairly painless, and the lady on the desk took a liking to Viv (calling him Vivian, which nobody gets away with) and allocated some long-leg seats. We headed for a small cafe by the duty free shops. We tipped all our local change onto the table and worked out that we could afford a coffee, soft drink and sausage roll each. It was coming up to 5pm, and we'd stood out in the hot sun, clouds of flies and considerable red dust for a long time.
We landed in at JKIA's new terminal, and headed for the food hall. The snack on the plane would be served after midnight, and Hilary and Janet sensibly preferred to eat something earlier. Viv was on a mission to get to a charger, and I wanted to grab some WiFi time on my laptop, so we transferred to the new Departure Gate with plenty of time in hand. "I've done this fight (KQ102) three times before," I offered, "and it's never left on time." Nothing new, then, when we took off half an hour late. However, what was new was that the customary Boeing 777 had been upgraded to a 787 Dreamliner. The up-swept wings and large windows are very impressive, but the plastic fixtures squeaked and rattled like a 15-year-old crate. I'd heard Gregory complain that the Airline was losing money through vanity.
I managed half an hour more on the laptop, enjoyed the roast lamb, stretched out my legs and got down to the serious matter of some sleep.