Bus journey #2: Uganda to Kenya

SJM 2017

Posted: 16 July 2017

The day ahead was eagerly anticipated: trips to the zoo and then the market. What could go wrong? On the way to the zoo we decide to stop at the bus station to buy tomorrow's tickets: a sensible idea… Or so we thought. We wait in the bus and wait and wait and wait. The temperature rises as the bus soon becomes an incubator. Tensions run high as Charis insists I switch with her so she can have access to the window. After much lobbying I cave in. More time goes by until it is unbearable. Where is Adam? I know we are in Africa but surely it can't take this long to buy bus tickets? TIA I say to myself, T. I. A! Not THIS IS AFRICA but THIS IS ADAM! He eventually wanders back having waited for an hour which means we get a parking ticket!

We arrive at the zoo and have a fantastic time. Seeing all of God's living creatures in a somewhat natural environment in Africa with only slightly questionable fencing puts one at ease. Next was lunch. Where should we go? I insist on Java (a heavenly, westernised restaurant which is glorious) but my application is denied. Instead we end up going to what seems like Brighton beach. A tacky colourful beach on Lake Victoria with Justin Bieber blasting in the background. What more could we want? Luckily we survived despite the red meats and ketchup which tasted like sugary water.

Next was the market. I bought some gorgeous paintings and cards which I will cherish. The team congregated together but I could see Angela was not fully satisfied. It was clear she hadn't got what she wanted. I asked her about her troubles and she told me about her fierce encounter with a seller that would not budge the price for a shirt more colourful than Joseph's technicolour dream coat. I comfort her and accompany her back to the seller telling her to play a hard bargain. But the seller was a league above even me. Her eyes were fierce and she was taking no prisoners. She was not to be messed with. We settle for a 10,000 shilling discount but both agree she will appear in our nightmares.

We return to the hotel and settle in for an early night. It is 11:30. Dark. Silent. Not a whisper in the sky. Ring…ring…..ring. Who could be calling at this absurd hour?!? How inconsiderate! Do they know we have to be up in six hours? My heart was pounding with rage, as if a lion had been woken. The drone of the ring seemed to continue for an age. It was a battle between me and Adam. There was no chance I was getting out of my comfy bed: this was a call for Adam. A call from an overzealous staff member calling to say goodbye. I congratulated Adam on the depths of his mission skills but also declared the timing was far from ideal before another dreaded travel day.

Oh what more do I have to say about travel days? After the last mishap from Kigali to Kampala I wasn't feeling optimistic. The team have tried to move on from that day but I feel traumatised. They keep reminding me the bus was bearable but I shed a tear every time I re-live those painful moments. With the last one being such a 'disaster' I was fully aware this journey was going to be another hurdle that must be overcome. Anyway, it was 5:30 am in Kampala. I woke with mixed emotions. Partly disappointment at the fact that I had completed my last night in luxury: a spacious double bed fit for a king. Conversely I also felt very upbeat: a surprising feeling for a night person.
Breakfast at 5:30 is somewhat a relaxing experience. No competition for the coveted butter or the passion juice. This time I decide to stock up on food: correcting my mistake from last time as I'm fairly certain my low blood glucose level was a factor in me losing my sanity. We load up the bus with our bags and head to the tranquil station for our 7am bus. As we drive in my stomach starts turning at the sight of this dreaded mode of transportation. I stay close to Fiona who is a beacon of hope in these times of need. I reluctantly stepped onto the bus and……well it was luxury. Our first class ticket had eased my concern. Finally LCF had listened to my demands. This bus was meant for royalty. Spacious chairs and leg room. My smile was brighter than the rising sun. The journey started and all was well for only a while. At around 7:15 the bus driver belted out some classic R&B tunes. Who wants to listen to Umbrella and Usher at this hour? My fire started raging. I can't catch a break with this travelling! Fiona saw my face drop like a puppy deprived of his bone. She took action like any good leader would: demanding the music to be turned down which it was. Her powers of persuasion so effective the music was turned off and we were given a blessed break if only for a short time. Time went on and all seemed fine. We were all dosing off, listening to relaxing tunes, when we were awoken by the harsh sound of the driver's horn. He wasn't having any of it. He beeped at every person, creature or tree in the way of the road, of which there were many. This bus journey was however certainly an improvement. I wish I could tell a tragically funny story at the border but no such thing occurred. The border was surprisingly efficient and stress free: God has answered my prayer.

We arrive at our bus stop and our transport hasn't arrived. A tuktuk was persistently asking us if we needed a lift and I laughed thinking 'on your bike mate'. We would never get one of those small cars that surely would see the end of me. To my utter amazement our partner arrives with one small car that would only fit our baggage. We then brave a tuktuk which soon becomes a game of how many people can cram into this tiny vehicle; by the way, the answer is seven. Nevertheless we make it to the accommodation in one piece and with our sanity intact.

I was greeted by some African Chapatti which is oh such a heavenly manna! But for now my friends, I will leave you with fond memories of the best bus journey I will ever experience on this trip. Some of you may say 'that's great to hear' but I just feel it's a cruel game Adam and Fiona are playing as our next four hour journey will be in a squished van topped with all our suitcases. Lord give me strength!