Published: April 1st 2009February 26th 2009
Road side market
On the way to Jinja from Kampala on the post bus.
So after leaving the Kwitonda group in Rwanda I took a bus from Kigali to Kampala across the border. The bus left the Nyabugogo bus station at 5.45am and I was told that I needed to be there for about 3.30am, as it gets full very quickly! I was the first at the booking office, which did not open until 5.00am. It was lucky I was the first through the door as I got the last ticket on the bus. Lucky that was until the journey got underway. I slept until we reached the border, which only took an hour or so. It was very cramped on the bus. Six seats across and the seats may have been big enough for a child but when you are sat in-between two ladies, one who is quite large and the other with a baby on her lap you can imagine how I felt being over six foot and not what you would call slight!
Over the course of the nine-hour journey a quite putrid smell kept coming and going. Initially I thought nothing of it until the coming and going stopped and it only came and did not go! I later realised
that this smell was coming from the child sat on the woman’s lap next to me. More precisely though, I would have to say it was the makeshift nappy that the child was wearing. Lets just say that the smell caused others around me to hold things to their noses and that we did not stop once until we reached Kampala around five in the evening.
I met Lucie in Kampala and it was so nice to see her again especially after the hard time she had staying in one of the schools near Kampala. The next day we travelled to Jinja, which is the town at the source of the river Nile as well as being the extreme sports centre of East Africa with its array of activities to do such as quad biking, white water rafting and bungy jumping to name a few.
Two hours into the journey and we were still not out of Kampala! There were riots and protests in the capital because of a huge market that had burned down the day before and we assumed this was the reason for the traffic. We finally reached Jinja and met up with Beth, a friend
from school, which was really surreal seeing her and spending time with her in Uganda! We enjoyed a really good meal and also went quad biking the next day, which was really fun and very dirty. We mainly went through villages that lined the river Nile, kicking up dust wherever we went. Even the boiler suits they gave us did not prevent the dust getting everywhere, which meant we finished the two hours a much more African colour than when we started.
I found Jinja very relaxing and a lot more slow and calm than I found Kampala to be. I ride on a Boda-Boda is a much smoother experience than those in the city as there are much fewer cars involved!
On Sunday morning we set off from Jinja on the Akamba Royal bus. The royal bus only has three seats across and costs an extra few pounds with food and a movie thrown in as well. After my last long distance bus journey I considered it a worthwhile investment. We reached the border of Uganda and Kenya and havig filled out all our declaration cards etc and proceeded to the emigration office. Having left Uganda we
went up to the Kenyan immigration window and paid our $50 for a visa ($20 for me as I only needed a transit visa, which lasts up to 7 days) and were then ushered to another booth. This time we were asked for our Yellow Fever certificates. I hadn’t realised we would need them and so they were still on the bus that had already crossed the border. Quickly I rushed back to the bus to go and get them but as I got half way I was stopped by a man and told that I could give the official some money “Maybe $50,” he said, and that the problem would be resolved.
“Fifty Dollars!” I said, angry at the fact that he wanted me to pay for something that I did not have to pay for in the first place and secondly that all I had to do was retrieve the certificates from the bus.
“But the bus is going to leave if you do not give him the money now!” he then said. I kept walking towards the bus and asked for the luggage hold to be opened so that I could get them out. He asked me
once again for, “maybe five thousand shillings?” which is the equivalent of fifty pounds! This time someone overheard him and pushed him away shouting and screaming at him. It was obvious then that this man was going to take some of our fifty dollars or pounds for himself. In the end we got our passports back stamped and with our yellow fever certificates having been checked and we were on our way to Lake Naivasha in Kenya where Lucie was going to stay for the week I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
The family we stayed with that Sunday night were called the Barton’s. Jenny and Oliver were very welcoming and they had the most gorgeous house I have seen yet in Africa. Their daughter, Katrina, was dating an old friend of mine from school called Mark. It was really good to spend the evening with them and spend some time catching up with Mark who had been through quite a lot since leaving school.
Early on Monday morning I left the beautiful house in Naivasha, surrounded by zebra and giraffe, and travelled into Nairobi to catch my bus to Moshi in Tanzania, in preparation for my climb on Tuesday. The journey would normally have taken three to four hours to get to Moshi but as the roads were being repaired at the time it was more like six. After the six hours, con artists at the border and endless bumpy roads I made it to Moshi at around nine that evening and just about managed to pack my bags, in darkness, (there was a power cut that night!) and get some sleep for the first day of the climb.