Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kampala, Uganda

We got a motorbike taxi out of the lake to Kibale bus station where we crammed into a bus with three seats on one side and two on the other. Some of the sliding windows were broken and it was a bit of a wreck. People standing in the aisles had to bob down when we passed police checkpoints.

Katja whom we had met in Kinigi gave us the address of a hotel in Kampala so when we got off the bus we had to negotiate a ride with two motorbike taxis. It was rush hour in Kampala so the streets were smokey and jam packed. The hotel was clean and cheap and we were able to get something to eat before we rushed out the door to see the jam session at the National Theatre. Katja sings with a jazz band so we were hoping to see her there. Unfortunately there was a talent quest going on and then the jam session started but most were reggae singers. We didn't manage to see Katja.

We contacted James and Vanja that had been in our gorilla trekking group and they were having a farewell dinner the next day and then flying to UK straight after it. With thoughts of our Mt Kenya trek coming up we decided to walk the 45 minutes to the restaurant and use our new African map programme to get us there.

There were several Norwegian and Ugandan colleagues and friends to see Vanja and James off. Vanja wrote a poem for each person there and gave away some of her things to each person. She is very talented being able to whip up a poem in a few minutes in a language that is not her mother tongue. We were given a blow up plastic ball with a map of the world on it.

Vanja's poem: Even though you are both better fit than me and raced me to the top

I find your company quite entertaining and nothing close to a flop

You are both two inspiring lot, I am glad I met you

We'll sure meet again

Take the globe, no use for it now.

It's been a pleasure, One I will treasure.

And again my only rhyme is insane

We spent a bit of time walking around the city. It is pretty smoggy and people park anywhere so you have to pay attention to where you walk. Cars block off the footpaths and the paving is broken and the paths muddy. When you walk on the road the motor bike taxis could be coming at you from the wrong direction. There are so many 4x4 vehicles and they push their way in front of everyone. The minivan taxis follow each other around the streets racing to get the first passengers and trying to fill their vans. The arguments can get pretty loud with lots of hand waving, finger pointing and shouting and in no time the passengers or passersby also join in the bun fight. I reckon it is a national sport!

The trees in the city centre have dozens of Goliath storks nesting in them. They can be as big as a four or five year old child. The footpaths are white from their droppings and when it warms up it is pretty smelly.

A street side butcher shop.

This building is still covered with the protective plastic covering that came with the copper coloured glass panels. It was scaffolded and it looks like they maybe trying to get the sticky covering off which looks pretty baked on now but is peeling off in some places.

Our hotel was in a street where there were dozens of restaurants so we had a vegetarian meal at Govinda's Hare Krishna restaurant and also had one of the best curries I have ever tasted at the Masala Chaat restaurant.

We took our spare Vodafone internet modem to a repair shop to be unlocked but have not been able to test it yet so hope it will work when we need it.

Kerri has managed to get us some flights to Ethiopia from Kenya cheaper than we could find online. We would have gone overland but the Lonely Planet forum tells us that it is not possible to get visas at the land borders, only at the airport or in your home country. We have tried to contact the Ethiopian Embassy but to no avail. The visa is also only valid for 30 days from the day it is issued so it will expire before we get to the country if we get it in Kenya.

We met three Nepali Policemen in our hotel who are on leave from the UN peacekeeping group based in Dafur, Sudan. We have rarely met Nepalese travellers in all our years of travel.