It seems fitting that a new Bond film comes out as Our Man in Kampala is re-assigned to another diplomatic mission, this time in friendly Kenya.
His journey here however was not friendly, beset with agents determined to make the transfer as tricky and as frought with danger as possible.
Never trust a bus company with a name like Kampala Coaches; our man should have known better.
The bus was due to leave Iganga at 7 am. It turned up at 8.30. No surprise there; our man didn’t get to where he is today without expecting things to run on African Time, oh no, you can bet your life.
But instead of heading east to Nairobi, it turned west and went to the police station, impounded for having 4 bald tyres and two missing wheels. I guess it still had 8.
The angry mob of disgruntled passengers spent 4 hot and frustrating hours persuading the police, a judge and the bus manager to get the wheels fixed but no, the bus had to go to Jinja to be officially inspected by the official inspector of vehicles (known as the IOV). And of that meant another opportunity for a bribe to be paid to yet another official there but who am I to judge morality when we need to get the absolutely shocking road under the show? Answer me that.
The driver by now had run off, afraid of being imprisoned because apparently he had been warned 3 times about the tyres.
Our dehydrated man with the high blood pressure consequently booked on the next bus instead, leaving at 4 pm supposedly, but the trouble was there wasn’t room for everybody (i started a movement). So when the second bus came along (at 5 pm) there was another argument about what to do, during which time the second bus driver HAD been imprisoned, for insulting the police, which meant we had no driver for what was decided would be a doubly over-packed bus to Nairobi.
At 6 the driver was released on bail. The other driver was extracted from his hide out (we needed 2) and we set off for a 10 hour trip which took 12.
BP starring to settle as darkness fell over the bus and its merry party of sardines, but further mysteries were yet to unfold!
At the Kenyan border we got off to do the immigration things, the bus moved forward to wait for us, but 20 new passengers who had booked seats on our bus (remember we were already a composite of 2 buses and over-loaded) took their seats…. And as WE started arriving and realizing it WAS our bus but it had the wrong passengers on it, the bus driver decided this was yet another ugly scene he would rather avoid, so when he reckoned there were enough seats over-filled, drove off. Leaving maybe 5 people stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with their luggage heading at high speed for Nairobi. I protested, to no avail. Astounded, it was hard to relax, my blood pressure high once more, I was just sad and depressed at what I’d become a part of.
And I missed my first night in the hotel, arriving at it, at 7 am, falling into the sumptuous sheets and sleeping for 2 hours before having my first hot bath in 3 months, followed in slow succession by sausages and baked beans for breakfast. You can have NO IDEA how good that tasted after 3 months of boiled banana.
24 hours I will not forget, but which I would really like to.
From trundling along overnight, trying to sleep on the bus, speeding over bumps that every minute or so would project us upwards, vertically, like a Saturn 5 until the trajectory was forcibly stopped by impact of one’s head on the inoperative TV screens, came a surprisingly enlightening revelation. It was really troubling to be on such an unknowable mission. But then like a thunderbolt , a turning point in the route to depression; the glass was suddenly 3/4 full. God, here I was, heading for a new and exciting adventure, coming from the same, meeting Ugandans with weird ideas about leaving people behind, heading to my first home where loving people would warm my heart again, coming from the same in my second home, money in my belt and watchful stars above.
Now I can enjoy Nairobi with the group of people I’m about to spend 2 close weeks with…
…well, not those ones. A real hotel with real sheets that are big enough to tuck in, without holes ..
And a pool, and real food..
Out man may be out of comms for a while now but will update whenever possible. Over….
Posted from MI’s WordPress for Android, as if!!