A day bus ride in equatorial Uganda

Note: This was written the same day as this travel occurred in December 2013

I just remember being dumbfounded that there were no cocks crowing or dogs a barkin’ as I stood waiting for the taxi (small minivan). When it arrived, it looked perfect. There were about six passengers and my bag sat comfortably by my side as sped through the cool morning alongside Lake Victoria, the head waters of the Nile River, on our way to Kampala. At the next stop we picked up one woman and 5 tons of yams (you know what Im sayin’).  Two minutes later we picked up 9 more people.  That made it a full house.  My knees instantly throbbed as they braced my body against the back of my seat. It was really tight! “Good morning sir” said the young man who sat next to me.  I think he wanted to chat but polite conversation can challenge anyone at 5:17 am. I had not idea at that time how friendly Ugandan people were having arrived the day before from Kenya.

We cruised at a fairly good pace making it to the “old bus park” of Kampala just before 6. I jumped out with my bag and walked to a boda-boda driver (motorcycle taxi) and woke him up from his slumped slumber on the bike. He did not know where the Kampala Post Office was when I asked and did not even pretend to so he could make a  bit of cash driving in circles. Ah, Uganda, backwards but honest (on some levels). Another boda boda man sped at the mzungu (white guy in swahili) with a backpack and we struck up a price. I was at the post office to catch the post bus to Kisoro in plenty of time.

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A few shots of Kamapla rush hour as we fuel up the bus.DSC02586

My travel companions for the day.  I was soon to be an uncle.    I dosed in and out for the next few hours. I missed crossing the equator! Dang, really like to see that imaginary line for some reason.  The landscape was rolling hills with vast wetlands between them as pictured below.  I knew by the end of the day, or trip, that I would be high in the volcanic region of the Virunga Mountains near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.DSC02604

We stopped in an unnamed village. Some typical foods seen on the street in Uganda.  These guys have chapatti, roasted bananas, grasshoppers (“my friend, would you like to try my grasshoppers”, “no”), and mystery meat. I did not tr the mystery meat pictured here but it did look delicious. I usually do not worry about food borne illness too much but my gut was screaming “don’t do it”, which is rare, but I headed the warning.

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Then there’s grasshoppers.  They look gooshy.  No thanks!  You can read more about that here.

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So we were off again.  About 60 Ugandans, a white grandma, what appeared to be two young missionary boys. Oooh, it was getting tight after 6 hours and when or where would there be a toilet break.  My vibe must have penetrated the drivers psyche instantly.  We stopped in a field as in the photo above.  He said something in whatever language was being spoken (Lugandan maybe?). The bus emptied and I followed suit.  I wish I had snapped a photo of this sight.  Everyone was peeing out in the open.  No issue, no problem, nothing.  Women were kinda to one side but people chatted as they peed. Yeah, I’m definitely not in the states though Fairbanks (where I’m from) guys pretty much piss anywhere.

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Awe, all four of my seat mates are passed out. I have only been slimed by a little baby snot…so far…this would not last…DSC02615

This is posh digs.  Most of the houses were very basic huts.  I have no idea what could fund this structure way out here, just less than one degree under the equator.

I arrived in Kisoro 13.5 hours later.  It was rough and I could complain but I am getting old too of course it does not feel as good.  Tell you what does feel good…is doing it. People were all smiles all day, friendly, kind, and I had babies smiling and climbing on me rather than just crying which what they normally do when I look at them.  It was a great day.  The air was so warm and wet.It reminded me too that I was far from home and just beginning my Ugandan adventure.

Sharing these anecdotes serves two purposes for me.  It is a journal of my experience that anchors my memories for later review but also just a way to share a bit of the diversity in daily life encountered while abroad with friends and anyone who might want a glance into another world.  I could have never conjured up my experience in Uganda in advance.  Not in a million years.  I had just a couple preconceived notions and they were flat wrong.

Nice to have you here, please share this story with one of the buttons below.  Lots more about Uganda on the way…gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, drinking, ad rafting the Nile…

18 thoughts on “A day bus ride in equatorial Uganda

  1. Mark my words, I am going to take up some special Oaxacan grasshoppers and tortillas made in a press, for you to feast like a king! Topped with some chile de arbol salsa and I’d say success!

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  2. Pingback: Sitting with Mountain Gorillas, Bwindi, Uganda | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

  3. Pingback: Rafting the Nile River | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

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