Uganda – 17 September: Kampala to Kabale

Woke at half 4 to the sounds of crickets, cockerels and what I think was the local muezzin. Out of bed properly at about 6am and at twenty to seven we went in search of the special hire (taxi in a car, as opposed to a ‘matatu’ – a minibus taxi which takes on and releases passengers throughout the journey), only to find that Carlos had gone to Entebbe. So – no choice other than to walk down the track and try and pick up a special hire along the road or (as it turned out) in Bugalobi, the village next to where we were staying.

7am appears to be rush hour in Kampala aned surrounds. Lots of matatu travelling along the road, distinguishing themselves primarily by tinted windscreen stickers declaring their support for e.g. Chelsea FC. Lots of 4x4s dropping children off for school. (Reminiscent of Kensington and Chelsea? Perhaps not – most cars and vehicles in Uganda seem to have some 4×4 capacity, and most appear to be made by Toyota).

We picked up a special hire in Bugalobi for 10,000 USh and got to the main Post Office by 7.30am. We bought tickets for the Post Bus to Kabale leaving at 8am, and eventuall boarded. The first two seats were taken up by big blue boxes of post, and various bags were slung underseats or in the racks above the seats. 29 seater bus. TheDrain jumped out when we unexpectedly stopped at a service station and went off to buy provisions for the journey (bread – which is v.sweet in Uganda, crisps, and some Coke with which to wash down the dispersible doxycycline). The bus almost left without him until the conductor looked around and suddenly announced – aah, msungu! (to which Feeble and I replied – “Yes, he’s in the shop!). Apparently service stations with shops attached are a relatively new phenomenon in Uganda – at least since Feeble’s most recent visit in 2003/04.

Not much to report about the journey – nine hours without a meaningful stop is best accomplished by not drinking v.much at all. Lots of children waving at the bus when they see the msungu (and some v.cute small children in one of the small towns shouting ‘hello msungu’ when we passed). At the two major post office stops, passengers on the bus were offered an array of goods – goat kebabs, chapattis, boiled eggs, ties, socks, onions, bananas etc. etc. If Sunday was a day of excessive TV/movies, Monday was time for audio overload. I spent most of the nine hours listening to various albums/sermons on my mp3.

As we left Kampala, we passed through various streets where shops specialising in the same trade grouped together – thus we saw coffin-makers, spare parts dealers (with random lorry fronts put on the top of roofs etc). Travelling through the countryside we saw lots of barbershops, MTN and Celnet sponsored shops (mobile phone networks) and lots of “AIDS research/herbal clinics”. Butchers with no visible refrigeration. Brick makers. People working in fields (bending over without bending their knees). People washing clothes by hand and spreading clothes out on bushes/in fields to dry. Lots of signs pointing to schools (boarding and day, primary and secondary) Lots of redevelopment signs stating the plans for redeveloping a certain area, who was funding, who was involved in the planning etc.

We arrived in Kabale at 5pm, could not find a special hire to take us up the v.steep hill to the White Horse Inn, and rejoiced to find a huge double bed with a box mosquito net, DSTV (with the Rugby World Cup), shower, flushing toilet and a nice bit of peace and quiet.

Interesting signs from the journey:
“Say ‘No’ to Sugar Daddies. Stop Cross-Generational Sex Now”
“Life can be busy with your hands full. That’s why all Nokia handsets some with a Handsfree Speaker”
“The Mayor of Kampala is pleased to report that the first of 500 litter bins have been installed”.
Most advertising seemed to promote alcohol.