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Uganda

In Kampala, Uganda

About an hour ago -- by candle-light, and with a half-dozen wart hogs grunting their approval only yards off the oche -- I took out a 0T9 here in western Uganda at the Mweya Lodge on the Kazinga peninsula in Queen Elizabeth National Park. In consideration of the conditions I decided to pack it in for the night.

It's now about 1:00 in the morning and the power is still out. The one and only telephone line has been down for two days. There's no hot water. And just a toss from my banda (hut) a hippo is chomping grass as I write. Such is life in this remarkably beautiful land which Winston Churchill called the "Pearl of the Nile." Such is life in Uganda ...

My journey (perhaps one could call it a "darts safari") began about a week ago. My first stop was Entebbe, scene of the legendary airport raid in 1976 when the Israelis rescued a group of hostages from the clutches of the mad dictator, Idi Amin. I took a shot, but struck out, at the Victoria Hotel (situated at the edge of Lake Victoria, source of the mighty Nile River). There's a pool table. Pizza. Mosquitos. But no darts.

So I headed to Bwindi in the far southwest of the country. After a two-hour flight in turbulent thermal air, a three-hour drive along a terribly pot-holed dirt road and another three-hour trek into the misty Impenetrable Forest I found myself face to face with a family of endangered mountain gorillas. Unfortunately they seemed to be more interested in eating crickets than playing it.

So I packed up again and moved to the very far northeastern corner of the country, to the isolated, tranquil and scenically spectacular Kidepo Valley National Park. This is lion, cheetah and leopard country and the Chief Warden, Anjelo Ajoka, took me on the game drive of a lifetime. But still, no darts ...

The fact is that darts does exist in Uganda. It thrives. It's well organized and extremely competitive with a country-wide system of leagues and teams. To the best of their limited finances or ability to find sponsors, the Uganda Darts Association (UDA) regularly sends its best darters to international competitions.

But the place to throw darts in Uganda is not in the bush. The place to get a game -- and a damn good game at that -- is at the Rhino Pub off the lobby of the Kampala Sheraton. The set up is excellent. A mug of Nile beer is just 1,800 Ugandan shillings (about $1.65). And the resident band (Waka Waka) is alone worth a visit. It was here that I met up with (and got beaten up by) Fanta Lillian, a sharp shooting member of the Ugandan national women's team. The best I could manage was two out of six games of '01.

Damn, this woman was good! And aggressive -- with 150 remaining in our final game she took a bead on the double bull and nailed her first two darts. Only a wire spoiled the finish.

Anyway, this explains why I'm sitting in the middle of nowhere now watching a hippo chew up the lawn outside my window.

Having been beaten to a pulp in a civilized venue ... having been beaten into oblivion by somebody named after a soft drink ... I figured I needed time to reflect. Where better to do so but in Oblivion itself?

Unless I can get my game under control I'm going to have to switch to something I can actually compete at.

Maybe tiddlywinks!

From the Field,

Dartoid

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