Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

I feel like an explorer tonight.  Our group is staying at Paraa Lodge in Murchinson Falls National Park.  Paraa is a true safari lodge out of the 1950s, and you feel is though you’re there.  The décor sets the safari tone and the artwork features early African explorations.

David Livingstone was featured prominently.  I’ve recently become rather enthralled with Dr. Livingstone, the famous British explorer crossed the African continent on foot and set out to find the source of the River Nile.  He’s become somewhat of a hero for his pursuit of exploration, his persistence, and his convictions.

Livingstone embarked on the most amazing journeys—some that took place not from where I write at this very moment.  Indeed, he made important geographical discoveries along the way, including Victoria Falls on the Zambezi.  On my Kilimanjaro climb, my interest in Livingstone was sparked due to the kinship I felt between my seven-day expedition to the summit and Livingstone’s much longer expeditions.  Not much has changed in the way that trekking is done today.

Livingstone nearly died from various diseases, like malaria and dysentery, several times.  Disease constantly plagued his teams and eventually took his life.  Despite sickeness, losing members of his team, and even his own wife, Livingstone continued to press on.  He famously said, “I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.”  When I’ve been sick in foreign countries and very uncomfortable—you often cannot quit traveling.  I reflect on Livingstone’s explorations and his persistence to remind me just how resilient the human body really is.  We can take much more than we believe.  I find courage knowing what Livingstone and his companions endured.

Finally, I’m inspired by Livingstone’s convictions.  The goal of his explorations was rather singular: Open up Africa for Christianity.  I don’t read Livingstone as the typical imperialist that some make him out to be.  Livingstone saw the nature of central Africa and, I believe, truly wanted to make it a better place.  He was attacked by tribes and crossed through the lands of cannibals.  Africa was a harsh place.  One of the most difficult things Livingstone encountered was the slave trade.  While slavery was officially abolished in the United Kingdom, it was alive and in the United States and other parts of the world.  Livingstone was so abhorred by what he saw that he declared that if his efforts might aid in the abolition of slavery, he would consider that a much greater success than finding the source of the Nile.  Livingstone even advocated for its abolition, writing an editorial in the New York Times.

I’m already starting to writing something more significant about Livingstone and my read of his story.  Keep an eye open as I might post some of my ideas on this blog.

As for the rest of our day, a brief summary.  We awoke early to drive from Gulu to Paraa Lodge on a very bumpy back road.  We made a quick tour through the market.  Now, I must admit, the market in Gulu is one of the most interesting I have seen and I have visited many markets.  Unfortunately, I ended up in a section of the market that I had rows and rows of dried fish.  There fish smell VERY fishy and I am not a fan of fish—particularly its smell.  Halfway through the aisle, the stench of fish was so overwhelming that I nearly lost it right there.  I held my breath and rushed out of the aisle.

At Paraa, we checked in and had lunch.  We did the boat ride on the Nile to the base of Murchison Falls.  The fauna, however, was not as thick as it was last year.  Disappointing.  We arrived back at the hotel for dinner and settled in for the night.  Tomorrow morning is an early game drive (hoping to see some lions) and then we head back to Kampala.  The trip is almost done.

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