Thursday, 9 February 2017

Rock on!

Every once in a while you need to do something spontaneous. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you get a chance to have a day like I’ve just had, then it’s a good happy medium!

On the way to Soroti, I decided it was time to check out Nyero Rock Paintings – a UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Site (1997), and one of the main attractions in the eastern part of the country!It became under cultural and legal protection first in 1967 under the Historical Monuments Act, and as part of the heritage protection section of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. The paintings date back as far as 1250 AD, but weren’t discovered until 1913. 

As we approached what I thought was the correct road, I quickly realized that it was not the site we intended to visit. It turns out there are multiple painted rock sites in the area… So, I threw on the ‘ol GPS, and awaited instructions from the usually reliable Dr. Google. It soon prompted us to continue in the direction we were already on…

Before long, we found ourselves on a narrowing road, followed by culverts and washouts, that I was certain we would not be able to pass, and yet, somehow, we did. The best was passing by the many locals, who appeared equal parts surprised and dumbfounded as to why we would be travelling in these areas. This include several tiny voices excitedly greeting us! But after all the craziness of these middle of nowhere roads, the GPS led us back to the highway were within eyesight of, when it told us to continue straight ahead… 20 minutes to move what would have been 5 minutes at most on the highway! We had a few laughs at my expense, at least!

Somewhere int he middle of nowhere, between a washed out road
and a culvert, of sorts, but before the road came to a complete end. 
Anyway, we arrived at the site just before 10AM and already it was pretty hot. We were greeted by two men, and gave us a quick rundown of the tour they were offering. Then, we proceeded to check out these infamous painted rocks.

The tour consists of visiting 3 different spots, and takes about 45 minutes in total… longer if you’re me and try to take pictures of the lamb you’ve spotted at the beginning. But in all seriousness, it’s a little bit of a hike, but not too intense, given the heat! I was definitely glad, though, that we did it this early instead of mid-afternoon as we would have if we were to do it the following day on the way back to Jinja. But each of the sites offered something completely different.

The first series of paintings were made of cactus sap and a few other local herbs. They consisted of a sun, and crocodile and some ladders. They were pretty neat, but unfortunately, due to the baby lamb, I failed to take a picture of!

If you look really hard, you will see the leg of the lamb
in between the sheep - they’re protective little buggers!
The second stop was the most intricate. It has a number of paintings, ranging from insects, to boats, to people, to giraffes, and even a zebra. There was also a really cool timeline of the sun, or at least what appeared to be so! The location of this spot was also just really neat. Our guides informed us that this area was also used to perform rituals to help women with fertility issues (for which I promptly insisted we not attempt to re-enact such rituals, so as not to increase such chances!), but also a place where sacrifices are performed – even today!

The second site, also known as Nyero 2 
If you look closely, you will see the giraffes in the right hand bottom-ish corner.
You will also fairly easily be able to see the sequence of the suns. Super cool!
The third and final stop was less about the rock paintings and more about the spiritual meaning of the place. I will readily admit, that I was a little hesitant to crawl under a gigantic rock that would easily crush me should it move even ever so slightly! But, as I crab walked my way in, I was really pleased I had. To start, there is only one painting in here – a sun, which is believed to represent god. But then, you look out in front of you, and you are confronted with the most stunningly beautiful views – absolutely breathtaking! Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t capture just how incredible these sights were! This was well worth the price of admission!

A panoramic view from the third site - Nyero 3. Epic!
The other part of the third site, that I failed to capture in the above.  
This is another lookout, just outside the third site.
Same view, different perspective, still stunning! 
On the way back we chatted about Canada and the cultural differences, then gave my obligatory French lesson. I also discovered a rock formation that looked like a human face, for which they informed me they hadn’t noticed before, and that I would get the credit for*! Once we reached the starting point to vans of mzungus** pulled in, and just like that our guides swiftly said their good byes and moved on to them!

The starting point of the tour. The pile of rocks on the right-hand side is where Nyero 1 is located. 
After we left Nyero, we continued on our way to Soroti…only we ended up having a car-related issue, so we had to make a stop at a nearby gas station. As we waited I became a temporary employee and shouted “mami” at all the customers, which means “it’s over” …and for which also made me laugh when I thought about the link between “Mummy” and “it’s over.” The need to shout this was due to the fact that they had run out of gasoline. The staff got a kick out of the fact that I took to this so easily, and that customers, for the most part, where actually listening to me. One guy, though, was having none of it, and it took two staff member to convince him I wasn’t joking!

But, at the end of the day, we arrived safely. And now, I sit in a hot, hot, hot hotel room, with no power! Best. Day. Ever!

-the Orange Canadian

**white folks aka people who wander aimlessly aka the best description of white people ever!

No comments:

Post a Comment