Part One: From Nairobi to Kampala By Bus
The actual journey began when a particular deuce bag (excuse my strong language) who had owed me money for a long time suddenly MPESAd me. I was so ecstatic, I went and withdrew all of it, booked a bus ticket (return) to Kampala, and called my parents and told them I was going to Naivasha for the weekend for a JKUSO youth leadership training retreat thing. JKUSO is the students’ union in which I represent my department.
To travel within East Africa and Southern Sudan, you don’t need to have a passport; a temporary permit that takes 5 min to obtain and is valid for a year will do. I got all this done, packed a bag, had a coffee date (I don’t know how this is relevant) and boarded the bus at Akamba Booking Station in Nairobi at 7.00 p.m. on Thursday the 9th September, 2010.
Akamba unveiled these pretty looking buses during the World Cup which they used to transport guys from East Africa to South Africa. After that journey, you’d wish you had no back. And no ass. Seriously.
Travelling at night is really not that much fun because there is nothing to see. My Chinese ipod (chipod) died after 3 hours. You can’t read a book because…well, because it’s dark. I don’t like conversing with my fellow passengers, besides it’s at night. So I tweeted (Follow me on twitter) till my phone battery died.
The only excitement of the night was when we stopped at the border at Busia, around 3 a.m. I was made to understand there is another crossing point at Malaba and I don’t where else. Anyway, after our stopovers at Naivasha, Nakuru, Kericho, and Kisumu we made a final stop while in Kenya at Busia. Busia is a town at the border that has spilled to both sides (both Uganda and Kenya) but I think it’s more in Kenya than in Uganda.
At the border, we were directed to the immigration department. You fill these Kenya-exit and Uganda-entry forms that the officers don’t even glance at, they just look at your permit and stamp and swish you away. At least that is what happened to me on the Kenyan side. On the Ugandan side, this Ugandan officer who was tall, dark and handsome asked me how long I was going to stay in Uganda. I told him about a week; and he wondered aloud if that was long enough to get me a Ugandan boyfriend. I should have asked for his number.
At this point, I finally dozed off and woke up in Uganda, when we were crossing the Nile River. It was so wide I wondered if we were crossing a lake at some point. It was still early dawn and I couldn’t manage any pictures; besides my phone was dead. I called my friend with my other phone; she was my classmate and friend in high school and was to be my host; she promised she’d be waiting for me by 7am at Akamba Bus Station in Kampala.
At one point in the journey during the night (I think at Kisumu) the light was on in the bus and cockroaches scrambled to hide! There were at the edges of the seats and by the window sills. Cockroaches in a whole Akamba bus??? I couldn’t freaking believe it. Isn’t there something called fumigation? Unfortunately, I forgot to complain about it later and I didn’t observe any during the return journey. The next time am in town, I’ll pass by their offices and give them a piece of my mind.
We finally got to Kampala around 7 a.m. on Friday morning and I got off the bus and tried to call my friend. Nothing. Calls can’t go through, I don’t have Ugandan money (my pal told me it’s better to change money inland), and even if I did, I didn’t know which airtime to buy. You’d think I’d be stranded but not me; I asked the guy who was working at the Akamba canteen in the passenger lounge to call my pal for me. He did in exchange for Kshs.100 or an equivalent Ushs. 2500 airtime.
Around 8 a.m. my tall pal strolled in, looked around and was almost walking away. I had changed that much since high school.
To be Cont’d.
Travelling to Uganda alone means I have struck one more thing off my to-do list. I’m doing well enough, I guess.