Uganda - Kampala Calling
Tue 21 Oct
Made an early start to get to the coach station for 0600. Crossed the border into Uganda around 0900 kind of hoping someone would notice the "place of birth" in my passport and said "welcome home" but no one did.
The hilly countryside of Rwanda soon gave way to more sprawling scrub and grasslands of Uganda, still green but not so obviously fertile. I'd brought the rest of the cheese and baguette with me from the previous day and enjoyed some for breakfast and the rest for lunch. Uganda seemed more developed than Rwanda; we passed through the provincial town of Mbarara and I was impressed to see an ATM (I hadn't found any in Rwanda) and advertising for three rival mobile phone networks.
I got a couple of glimpses of Lake Victoria briefly before the road turned north. Somewhere along the way I must have crossed the equator but I'm sorry to say it went unnoticed. At some provincial boundary there were tollbooths across the road, now disused but the bus stopped there anyway so passengers could take a break and get some lunch. I bought an English language newspaper and some chilled water, both refreshing.
Kampala had a capital city feel with suburban and urban sprawl and congested polluting traffic, but it also had a pride and elegance. Shops were well stocked and offered choice. I dropped my bag at the upstairs bar of the Park View Hotel (not as green as it sounds; a locals' haunt with view of the bus station) and went off to find an ATM. Walking past the main post office I couldn't resist temptation of checking if my camera batteries had arrived, even though they were only posted seven days before. Unbelievably I was presented with a shoebox-sized parcel from under the "poste restante" counter and within minutes I was on my way. The uncertainty of whether and when they would come was now behind me. I expected to have to return to Kampala after a week, and perhaps after two weeks; now there was no "need", I would be free to move on as I desired. I no longer needed to anticipate the wasted journeys and compromised itinerary.
There was no reply to my email asking to stay at the Kampala guesthouse of a UK missionary society so I gave them a ring. They were expecting me and gave me details of how to get there by minibus and "buda-buda" (moped taxi). Margaret and Noel, a retired couple from Northumbria, were (temporarily) managing the guesthouse and made me feel very welcome. They put me in the house next door where I had hot water, ensuite bath and shower, and beautiful gardens.
Uganda - Kampala Calling