Friday, September 16, 2011

Daring to Bite The Bullet

Leo's sleeping right now.  He's tucked up in our bed underneath his blue blanket (it's one that Chris bought for him when we were in the UK) with the large mosquito net securely tied at the corners.  He may sleep for 30 minutes or crash out, like a man down, for a few hours. Our god-daughter, Kya, is also staying so it's been an evening of stories, a movie, sausage and chips, ice-cream and washing body moisturiser our of her white blond hair!  With both little people out for the count I'm taking what I can and typing like Elton John on the piano.  Damn fast.

Chris left for Murchison at 7am this morning in our old green land cruiser which was laden down with materials for the lodge construction - cement, water tank, hose, steel and rope all tied on.  It resembled a big ship on the high seas as he backed out of the drive and onto the bumpy road for the long drive north.  He hopes to be back next Tuesday, but it could be Thursday.....we've learnt to be flexible, but it's hard and he misses Leo tremendously when he's away.

I've not been up to Murchison since last year, but from the photos I've seen and based on the intense grilling I give Chris after every visit it's looking beautiful.  The campsite and safari tents are finished, as is the bar/restaurant and kitchen.  They're cracking on with the rooms, I imagine they'll be ready in a few more weeks.  Over 6 years ago, when he exchanged money for the 20 acre piece of land, it was wild African bush - you couldn't walk without slicing your limbs on the sky high elephant grass and twisted thorny trees.  Hippo tracks were visible (and still are) and a wild buffalo was a regular visitor.  The view from the high bank out across the river Nile was jaw dropping - elephants, water buck, pods of hippos, crocodiles and birds of all descriptions could be seen at the water's edge and of course there was a sunset to die for. 

We began developing 18 months ago and the idea was to keep as much of the wild bush as possible and to build amongst it, keeping it real.  The campsite is at the back of the property, off the dirt road, and the rooms are along the ridge of a naturally shallow 'amphitheatre'.  Overlooking the water and facing upstream sits the bar/restaurant with it's heavily terraced and much admired thatched roof.  Whilst pregnant and back in the UK the roof fell over during a horrendous storm.  It was kept from me (Chris is no fool) and when I eventually saw the photos I thought it was some awful joke.  But.No.It.Wasn't.  I shant tell you about the 2 workmen who dived for cover under the sleeper furniture as it came crashing down around their ears....  Fortunately we hadn't paid the contractor his final installment, so in no time it was put back up and the footings replaced.

Our original dream was to live in Murchison and run the lodge, but that was before Leo arrived on the scene.  Malaria is a big risk in Uganda, even more so up north.  As it is very few of us take any anti-malarials, but as day turns to night we spray legs and arms, we cover up by wearing jeans or trousers, we sleep under a treated mosquito net and we make sure doors are closed and windows are shut.  Prevention is better than cure.  But for ease of worry we have malaria test kits and we know the drugs to take should the blood test give us a positive result.  But at the moment with Leo only 5 half months old we don't feel we can live as a family there, not when the medical facilities are so far away and especially not when we have a choice.

So with this thought ringing in our ears and with Leo and I living in Jinja, we've decided to bite the bullet (decision made over a dinner of roasted vegetables, a pork joint and beer) and open this dream of ours, 'M.urchison River Lodge'. We could keep putting it off, but we're running out of money again and the threadbare purse strings are carrying thin air so it's time to be bold and take the bull by the horns.  It's a big leap of faith and we're nervous of having bitten off something so big that we may choke, but with the help of creative friends and great local staff we may just be on the cusp of starting something quite magical.  And it's Leo, our little lion, who we have to thank for this sense of self belief.

Him and several cold beers......!

1 comment:

anymommy said...

Brave, brave move. Keep walking forward, I do think it's going to be truly amazing ... as are you and Chris and Leo.