Hills too keep secrets. Their secrets are hidden far away up among uneven small mounds, stones of ages and muted rocks that have since given up on changing colour. They persuade you to go to them but do not reveal to you the details of their ruggedness that you have to stretch your muscles to get to the summit. Isn’t it true what the sages say, that the devil lays in the details?
When the graceful birds of Lake Bunyonyi repeatedly serenaded us out of the beds to attend to the matters of the day, little did we know that the hill held its own secrets. The softness and comfort that comes with the neatly laid beds of the white duvet crossed with maroon sashes are not the best way to sleep when you have to wake up to a morning run as your first item of the day. But again, are rules not meant to be broken? It is like how you set the alarm to wake you up early but you keep doing business with the snooze idea so like Oliver Twist, you could get some more. But I digress.
Lake Bunyonyi is a special lake especially in the way of its formation. It is arguably the second deepest fresh water lake in the world. It is the lake on the hill. Unlike other lakes that you find between the armpits of forests and wetlands, Lake Bunyonyi has that bourgeoisie identity about it. It finds its dwelling among hills.
It is at the shoulder of one of the hills that we found ourselves awaiting to participate in the Wild Run organised by Wild Run Uganda. Wild Run is a privately run company that promotes conservation of tourism sites among communities and the tourists through runs. They organise monthly runs around these places and mobilise the locals to come through to participate.
This time round, the run was around Lake Bunyonyi. It was organised in partnership with the Bunyonyi Safaris Resort a hotel planted in the lavish green camouflage beneath the towering trees and their reflection in the waters of the lake.
Among the known rules of running that I know, the one of not eating before running is not so clear. Together with my colleagues, we decided to use the opportunity to clear out the heavy breakfast that was put before us. Had it been a trap, then we fell for it. When a table is laid out for you with flasks of hot bushera fronted before you, first you have to think of the chef who had to put in time as you negotiated between jumping out of bed and diving into the hot shower in the luxurious bathroom layered out with white tiles. They were in the kitchen putting together this meal and then you leave it? Just because you are going to run, does it not mean that you disrespect other people’s efforts? And for that reason, we sat down and demolished the breakfast leaving no trace of it ever existing.
My mentor tells me every choice comes with a consequence. Even when you choose not to make a choice, that alone comes with a consequence. Our choice to pay allegiance to the heavy breakfast left us victims of our next endeavour, running. Who expects to win a run after a three day-meal that disappeared at once?
I am told that people going to run first warm up with stretches in the paved parking lot of the resort and hit the road running. But remember we had made a different choice all together. When we stood to run, we had to first drag ourselves out through the main gate joining the dirt road to tussle it out with the rest of the runners.
We got to the meeting point a bit lighter than we had set off. Mind you, we walked a full two kilometers to the flag off area where we met the school children who were taking part in the community run. Along with them came the able men and women of Bunyonyi trading centre with whom we were going to compete.
Long story short, the run happened and winners won. I do not know who won but what I know for sure is that boys and girls less than ten years old were skirting corners and negotiating the mangled terrain as I looked on in wonder. I could not carry my bushera-packed-tummy up the hill.
Bunyonyi Safaris Hilltop is at the summit of the hill. It is the resort which seats on the shoulders as it hangs along touching the calmness and fetching the cold that is Lake Bunyonyi. The recreation and sports center that is Bunyonyi Safaris Hilltop is the real bargain for your money. Much as I began on the starting line, I was unable to continue at the same pace with these energetic residents who made running seem to be as simple as demolishing a mug of bushera. The Hilltop has this bold look that stares straight in your face implying to say even if you don’t come up here, what shall you do to me. In its boldness it beckons you to draw closer because it is beautiful and it commands fresh air to rub off the steam of perspiration that is the work of the stiff climb and a bothersome clout of dust. It is the place where marathons and runs end. It is the summit that summons one to use their last ounce of energy to earn a lifetime win.
By the time I reached the splendour of the Hilltop, I was exhausted to the core. My energy was run out and there was no trace of any bushera left in me. The walls of the throat threatened to rip apart if I did not quench them with water immediately. The joints in my legs were shouting at me to find a place under the well-manicured grounds to sit down and just take in the beautiful views of the lake and the sprawling hills lined with farm produce as they were being tilled by their owners. I obeyed.
Soon, strength felt shy and it returned to my tired knees supporting me to go fetch the water. The winners were being rewarded for their sweat as I took a leak in the clean washrooms paying for the price of my mugs of millet porridge.
But again, a human being cannot lose twice in a row. At least you do something scary. I gathered the effort left in me and made for the return journey to the resort. Thanks to Tom, a staff member at the resort who showed me a shortcut. The only problem with the route were the guava trees lining by the side. Hooo, the temptation! I picked a few as a consolation prize for taking part in the run conferred upon me by myself. With this bag of small wins in handy, I made my way back to the resort to catch an afternoon swim in the newly constructed pool. The fountains at that pool can mean to wash away your sins!
An hour later, lunch was ready and I vowed to respect the chef for their efforts before dragging myself to catch the dancing sparkles of the sun’s rays on the lake through by bedside window.