Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Second Best Shower in the World

The summer after I graduated from high school, I lived with my friend Kate and her mom in their house on Martha’s Vineyard. The house had an outdoor shower, encased in weathered wood and on the small bench inside Kate’s mom kept industrial-sized bottles of Aveda Rosemary Mint shampoo and conditioner. After a day at the beach — or, as was more often the case that summer, a long day spent behind the counter of the Black Dog Bakery, picking up the slack for Beth, who got so stressed out one Sunday morning at the sight of the long line that stretched out the door and around the corner that she had a seizure and forever after waited on customers at her own damn pace — that outdoor shower was the sweetest shower I have ever experienced. The cool evening air blowing over the walls, the smell of the shampoo, Mrs. S’s fluffy towels hanging in wait. That shower was heaven.

The Gorilla Resort lies in Buhoma just outside the gates to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On Wednesday, February 27, we left Kampala at 6:00 AM and did not arrive in Buhoma until 4:30 PM. There were brief stops along the way—coffee to go at the Equation Café at the equator, bathroom break in Masaka, lunch in Rukungiri—and then we spent three and a half punishing hours on 75 kilometers of dirt road from Rukungiri to Bwindi. The road gave you an instant headache, rocky and unkempt, and we didn’t have a clear idea of where — exactly — we were going.

Our first target was Katobo, which we passed through quickly after leaving Rukungiri (and stopping twice to ask if we were really on the right road). Next we began to look for Kambuga. Kambuga lay on the other side of an enormous gorge. First we climbed, then we went down and through.

Still there was no sign of Kambuga. We stopped a boda driver and asked how far; he told us five kilometers. Ten kilometers later we were still out of luck. From the front seat my father and Jason called out village names as we passed through them, asking me if they were on the map, no matter how many times I repeated that that there was nothing marked between Katobo and Kambuga. Kambuga, “the mythical city,” as my father began to refer to it, didn’t materialize until an hour and a half outside of Katobo. On the map Kambuga was equidistant from Katobo as Katobo was from Rukungiri. I studied the map and the other towns we had to pass through and I doubted we would make it to Bwindi before dark.

Kanungu actually had some pavement through the center of town and for a brief thirty seconds we could think clearly again, there was peace in the car. And then Kanungu ended, that metropolis in the middle of nowhere, and we were back on the jarring dirt road. Kanyantorogo (you’ll notice each town starts with a K, making it very easy for everyone else in the car to mix up the names and have to ask me, who was holding the map, to repeat where exactly it was we were going to next over and over and over), Butogota, and finally, Buhoma arrived in fairly short order. Sunset was still two hours away and we hadn’t made a single wrong turn. Still, the tension of those last three hours in the car were slow to leave my body — until I was introduced to the shower at the Gorilla Resort.

The lodge has six permanent tented rooms overlooking the forest. The rooms are spacious with wooden floors; in the bathroom the bathtub was as long as I was. A large shower head hung from the ceiling directly over the middle of the tub. The water comes straight down, hot, hot, hot, and is a prerequisite to the beer on the porch later that will bring total relaxation in the absolute solitude and quiet of being on the edge of the wild.

1 comment:

Sam said...

More pictures of Mom and Dad looking goofy, please.