the plan for tuesday was to wake up early and be on the road by six. heather and i accidentally woke up at three! we couldn't go back to sleep, so we chatted about things like classic horror movies, the dark knight, drama, and how much we miss toby and bailey. finally breakfast time arrived (5:30) and we headed up to the dining area. the sunrise was insane!!
because of how high up we were, it was nice and chilly with misty fog sitting on the ground.
after waking up at three, we were really ready to go see gorillas!
i drank my passion fruit juice and ate eggs and fruit to prep myself for the hike.
look how pretty our lodge was!
when we emerged from our dining room, heather and i saw the most beautiful clouds ever!
they sat right on top of the volcano like a cupcake or something!
paul drove us in to the gorilla tour meeting place. it had just rained and we were in a big land cruiser. we got stuck in the mud... then a huge group of guys from the village nearby came running out to help us! we all got out and they pushed us out of the mud. by the time we were free they were totally covered in mud.
many many thanks to the kind rwandans!!
then we set off on our hike. the altitude made it a bit more of a journey than i had expected.
we had this awesome guide that was really hilarious and loved to tell us about gorillas. he explained that bamboo is gorilla beer. it makes them loosened up and happy just like beer does to us. jon sampled the gorilla beer. i actually did also and it was pretty ok! kind of like a raw piece of tree.. but ok!
we hiked and hiked and it was wet, muddy, and full of treacherous spike plants. I was really really pleased with my recent investment in hiking boots.
then suddenly we saw our first gorilla! she was just buried in the thick jungle, nibbling some booze.
i was fully amazed and instantly excited.
but then our guide told us she was not from the family we were looking for! she was just lost. he led us on to find the agashya family (named for the big daddy silverback).
and after a bit more hiking, we found them! the whole family was there- all 13 of them! some even had tiny babies, only three months old.
dad was the oldest guy in our tour group (eight people) so our guide referred to him as our silverback. thus, once we found agashya, jon posed with him.
agashya means "special." and he is very special. most groups have multiple males and one head male. agashya is the only male of his group and has all the females to himself. our guide said, "he is very busy with the jiggy jiggy!"
the babies are the cutest things i've ever laid eyes on.
we were just in complete amazement!
and we got really really close up to them. the babies just stared at us the whole time.
and this is when we really got to see agashya. he is 25 years old and enormous!
hey little gorilla baby! toby would get along with this one....
this is me before i climbed through this tunnel of bushes and vines. we had a guy along that carried a machete and chopped all the vines in our way. he blazed us a path, but i still managed to get my leg stabbed by a stinging nettle bush (and it really really stings!!).
the gorillas went to a clearing and we followed. heather and i posed. then they sat around and discussed the idea of going into the field.
the ladies didn't really like the idea, but agashya told them a thing or two and they changed their mind.
and so over the fence (the border of the preserve) and into the open field.
they ran all over the place looking for eucalyptus bark to munch. apparently its a gorilla favorite.
and here is the whole fam with the gorillas. (sadly alex is missing)
heather and i had so much fun photographing the gorillas!
agashya even did some regulating when some of the ladies got in a fight over a eucalyptus tree.
after about an hour of following them around, agashya rounded up the ladies and told them to go back over the wall to the safe part of the preserve. as they left he gave us a really amazing pose (apparently showing us all how awesome he is).
these guys came along on our tour. they are ex-poachers. poaching exists because of poverty, and the only way to cure it is to replace it with another source of income. the rwandan government did this by creating a position for them on the gorilla tours. they come along with machetes (in case of danger) and help by carrying bags. at the end of the tour, we pay them a fee, and this is how rwandans are saving the earth!
awww this is my sad face because alex isn't there!
afterwards we went to a little lunch place that paul recommended.
we sat in the sun and watched the clouds roll in.
heather had an amstel. (just kidding tca- i just made her hold it)
goat on a stick anyone?
oh no! more tan lines!!