Friday, 15 May 2009
Arrival in Kampala
The border crossing seemed a bit haphazard. Probably because we came by bus it was presumed that we would not be tourists. Everyone filed out of the bus almost immediately, while we sat in our seats wondering what to do; eventually the bus driver angrily told us to get out and join a queue – at least I think that’s what he said in Swahili – and we joined the Kenya exit queue. Passport stamped there was a no man’s land we could idly wander down, which seemed to be full of tiny streetkids, hawkers and moneychangers, before we saw a Barclays Bank and a very long immigration queue.
A couple of smartly dressed men had decided that we were behind them in the queue and they had to find a $50 note for the visa each, which caused a little delay; a bit of banter with the moneychangers and we discovered the bus and the rest of the passengers waiting for us a few hundred yards up the road.
Pink-shirted buda budas (?) (cyclist taxis) were all over the place but it was not long before we were in a country as green as any I’d ever seen. Uganda was full of green unutilised land, ripe for development. Dotted around were small villages, mainly with huts and minimal interventions from civilisation. In comparison to the commercially-focused farms of Kenya, it was what one might presume Africa to be as a foreigner, if one had not visited the varied metropolises and shanty towns, which convey the vast gap between rich and poor.
Well we finally arrived in Kampala completely exhausted, into a city that looked just like any other – lights in every direction as far as the eye could see into the blackness. The bus took several attempts to three point turn inside the garage, but eventually we were let out, hoping to see our friend from KJT, who was supposedly meeting us. My own phone was out of credit and virtually out of power to make any calls and Ceris’s was finding no service, so we just had to wait with our copious luggage, as we had brought substantial gifts from the UK to the football players of KJT.
Our contact arrived not long after – fortunately – and we were led to our hotel. A broad-chested woman in a nightie appeared to block our way into the hotel, but she moved to the side, as we entered and, to date has not been seen again. It was something of a walk, but I was still excited about being here, so we grabbed something to eat, which was actually excellent and very reasonably priced, much as everything is in Kampala it seems. Even at 3,300 shillings to the pound they seem to be able to make a profit.