TRAVEL DIARYUGANDA

Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Burundi Odyssey Part 2

Read Part 1 here

Day 4

It’s been two minutes. He places his fingers on the throttle and lifts his head to see the police man’s face. I look up the town clock; it’s five minutes to time. A cold sweat runs down my face. My heart drops. I don’t think we are going to make it. A loud whistle blow snaps me back reality, a deafening vroom fills up the air. We move so fast I am jerked a few inches back. I hold tightly on my seat and look up the road to see if we are almost there. Just as we take the final turn, I see it take off and join the highway. Damn it, I can’t believe I just missed the bus.

Before I could even utter another word, Innocent screeches right beside us. “Hop on” he says, “your friend is already in the bus.” Like a scene out of fast and the furious, I throw him my bag and hop on the back seat. A second later we are on the highway and I can see the white bus. “Hold on tight, I’ll get you to it,” he says with a smile on his face. Looks like he is enjoying this, meanwhile my heart is pumping so hard it’s about to rip my ribcage open.

We ride past cars nearly hitting the side mirror of a car changing lanes. I flinch but as soon as I open my eyes, the bus is right beside me. I wave at them to stop, luckily there is traffic a few feet ahead and so they stop and I get in. The passengers laugh and clap like it’s the end of a Broadway show, guess my bus chase was such a good performance. And that’s how day 4 begins.

The reason for us going ‘Mission Impossible Uganda edition’ was not surprisingly not my fault. Even though I’ve been known to be late several times, I had woken up and gotten ready in good time that morning. But Kim, my boda-boda rider took his sweet time coming to pick us up. Luckily, Innocent, the rider who to took LG to the bus stop, came back for me and got me to the bus before it got out of the city.

The rest of our 6 hour trip was uneventful. We transversed Uganda’s country, passing large swamps and banana plantations. Seeing we hardly got any time that morning to buy data, we remained offline the whole trip. I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming while LG took a nap. At 3.00 pm, we were getting off at Kabale. It was so different from Kampala, the air here was fresh, roads much cleaner and fewer boda bodas on the road.

Stranded with nowhere to go, we decided to go to an Airtel shop right next to the road and get us back online. 6 hours have never felt like 30 days, we were shaking at this point with withdrawal symptoms. Joking! Once we got internet, the next thing was figuring out where we were going to spend the night, but first, we had to look for food. The nice lady at the shop showed us a cheap hotel serving authentic Ugandan food and even agreed to keep watch of our luggage. And she was right, the small food place has all the matoke and g.nuts dishes we could think of, and all for Ushs 3,500 (1usd) It was such a good deal that I ran off to the nearest shop and bought us two containers to get takeaways.

Once our bellies were full, I remembered to have seen a very beautiful establishment with a lake- view on Booking.com the night before. I had not made a reservation and was hoping I could get lucky and score a last minute booking. The property read fully booked. We checked for other properties but all of them were double or triple what we would have paid if we made the reservation. We tried calling the number on the website but it was not going through. Texted on Whatsapp but no response. LG then came up with a ballsy idea of us just walking to the property and convincing them to give us a room. This plan had to work, or else we would not have enough money to go to Kigali.

So we go back at the Airtel shop and the lady attendant tells us the best way to get to Lake Bunyonyi was on a boda boda. I was not phyched about that seeing that I had had a very eventful morning because of a boda boda, but choosing to ignore that, I hoped on one and off we went.

The rider was very chatty even though he only spoke a little Kiswahili and barely two words in English. He was very excited to hear I was from Kenya and could not wait to ask me if I knew his cousin a pastor in Nairobi. He told me he dreamt of coming to work in Nairobi because his cousin came back riding a very big car which meant there was a lot of money in that city. I almost fell off the motorbike laughing just imagining that his cousin could be one of those wacky preachers that prey on innocent followers and milk them money.

8 kilometers in and we diverted from the main tarmac road and got on a dirt road, luckily it leveled because my groin could not handle another bump at this point. The road went up hill and through a eucalyptus forest as we passed beautiful terraced hills. We got to a small town and the rider stopped to ask someone for directions. The local man said that we could reach the property by boat which was available at the loading bay just few meters from where we were.

We got to the loading bay and true to his words, there were motor boats and dugout canoes ready to transport us. I could not hold back from laughing when LG looked at me, this was utterly bizzare. We were about to take a boat ride to a property clearly marked sold-out without any reservation just because it was the only one we could afford. As we were negotiating the price with one of the “captains”, another one walked to us and said that he worked with the hotel and could take us there. He even called the manager to confirm his credibility! He gave us his phone to talk to the manager who lucky for us, confirmed that they had a room available for us. We got to into the motorboat and made our way to Itambira Island where the hostel was.

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