Posts Tagged With: kampala

ECO-ART INTELLIGENCE

img_6870“Hey bro, where are you?” a local was friendly and generous enough to allow me to use his phone to call Gisa. We had arranged to meet at the National Theatre where I had been chatting with Jobray, a talented graffiti sketch artist.

“I’m coming in a few minutes,” Gisa had said. This was at 17:00 when we had agreed on 16:00.

 

A few minutes meant that I had at least an hour. So I sat and let my mind be blown away by Jobray’s sketch book that he carried everywhere.

“Man,” I exclaimed, “you’ve got some serious talent.”

At 19:00 I was just about to phone Gisa again when a familiar dreadlocked local turned up.

I know that guy, I thought to myself as he nodded towards me in a way that let me know that he was Gisa as I was sure we had never met before. He was tagged in a post I had made and had become an online contact until this face-to-face interaction.

“Hey bro, sorry about the delay,” he bro-hugged, introducing me to his pal, “Ruganzu Bruno,” the afro spurning local grinned and shook my hand warmly. It’s not often you come across someone in Africa who doesn’t shave his head completely, wear a weave or have dreadlocks. The afro is a look that definitely needs to spread.

“What do you do?” I asked my new friend as we headed over to his car.

“I’m an eco-artist,” he said, pausing patiently for me to follow up with the head-scratching,

“Whatta’s that mean?”

“I create art from recycled and upcycled materials,” he began to explain. “I’ve created a playground out of plastic bottles and my aim is to spread this art to communities all over.”

I then explained my philosophy and he opened his arms wide for a hug. “You and me are the same,” he grinned. We hopped in the car and I couldn’t help but feel like I’d met Gisa before. I searched my head for a memory, a recollection, a digital imprint on a brain cell that could relieve me of this feeling of de ja vu.

The topic of Zanzibar’s music festival, Sauti Sa Busara, came up and then it hit me as I slammed into the back of the passenger seat. ““Gisa,” I fished, “were you at the Sauti Sa Busara festival in Zanzibar?”

“Ya, bro,” he turned to look at my grinning face.

“I think we met there,” I said as I recalled seeing him around the four-day event and then on the ferry back to Tanzania when we actually spoke briefly.

“Yeah!” he exclaimed, recalling the same memory.

Fuck me, what a small world.

Gisa wasn’t able to host me but Ruganzu had purchased some land about 20 K’s outside of Kampala.

“You’re gonna stay with me,” he said. “I’m building a studio using bottles.”

“I’ll help,” I offered.

That night we had dinner at an Indian restaurant before Ruganzu drove us home, arriving just after midnight. In time to hear the pigs grunt and squeal in the next door piggery. In fact, the entire neighbourhood was a piggery.

Grace, Ruganzu’s lovely wife, opened the door for us. I ended up sharing the room with 4-year-old Freddy, Ruganzu’s eldest boy. Ubuntu (an ancient African word meaning,’ I am what I am because of who we all are’) being only two months old. I would quickly discover that all three men in the family are aspiring snorers.

The next morning I awoke with the help of the neighbour’s rooster and chirping birds. Expanses of green fields rolled in every direction, the view from Ruganzu’s pointing down to the valley. A Harrier Hawk landed on the brick house behind the property and startled some starlings. Casqued hornbills flew together and perched in a tall tree.

Uganda was full of them. Tall trees and Casqued hornbills.

I was shown around, Ruganzu pointing out the work done and the work to be done.

I dived in by cleaning out the space that would eventually become the studio and the next day I carried 10 sets of six bricks from one side of the property to the other. We then headed into Kampala and stopped at the National Museum where a large pile of empty glass bottles awaited our collection.

While waiting for the caretaker, we checked out the collection of former dictator, Idi Amin’s cars. A Mercedes stretch limo from the late sixties and his Rolls Royce. A 1980’s Mercedes stretch limo and a Toyota Landcruiser offered, for the humble price of 10,000 Ugandan shillings (about $4 AUD) to get you feeling like a president, being driven around the museum grounds in either car.

Only in Africa.

Later in the afternoon I cut about 15 empty 20-litre water jugs and filled them with the dirt I had just dug out to create a long step out in the field where the Ruganzu-styled statue of The Thinker sat, welcoming guests with its tree head.

That night we went out to visit Ruganzu’s friends, a couple of Norwegian girls. One was an exchange student, another had started a woman-empowering NGO and the others were volunteers. Home-made pizza was on the dinner menu and then later, after Ruganzu and I did the dishes, we headed out to Iguana, perhaps the best-known reggae bar in Kampala.

It wasn’t until four in the morning that I would see a pillow.

“Ruganzu,” I asked my new brother, “you sure your gonna wake up tomorrow in time?”

The Gypsy Queen was due to arrive in the morning and I didn’t want to keep her waiting. And Kampala was notorious for traffic.

Heavy. Traffic.

“I’ll be up, I promise you,” Ruganzu promised before snoring off to cloud nine.

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Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Uganda | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

HITCH HIKING IN UGANDA – PART IV

“I’m a Lua from Liru,” Alex introduced himself. He had picked me up from the desolate road outside the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

The last 19 days of volunteering with Amuka Lodge had me looking forward to heading back to Uganda’s capital city as Robert, head of maintenance, gave me a lift to the road from the sanctuary.

Fifteen minutes later Alex stopped for me on his way to Kampala.

“I’m a journalist and a district councilor,” he said of his dealings. Basically, Alex was a politician.

“You know,” I began, “in the Western world, I don’t think its allowed to be a politician and a journalist.”

“I have a share in the paper so I cannot leave it,” he explained.

I, “Ah-huh,”’d and left it at that. We stopped for tea and a rolex at the same place that James, my hitch to the rhino sanctuary 19 days before, had stopped at (and I may have destroyed the religious views of his brother, Pascal).

All was peaceful until a police-assisted two-car convoy attempted to take to the air but failed to reach the 300 K’s an hour mark to actually take off. It rocketed down the middle of the narrow highway, hinting to other cars to get out of the way by forcing us off the road. Alex skillfully drove into the shoulder lane. Not on to it – in to it. A window-tinted SUV sped behind (or slip-streamed in the police car’s Mach 1 wake).

“Jesus,” I said.

“These police are the most dangerous drivers,” Alex tsked, guiding us safely back to the road.

As we neared Kampala he let me use his phone so that I might try to contact my host, Gisa. I had no idea as to where he might be in the city. The call went straight to the voice of the service provider saying that it was switched off. I tried a few more times and even Alex attempted but always the same result.

By eleven I was dropped off not far from the Gaddafi mosque, the second largest in Africa (although, why it was decided to build the second largest mosque in a country that is 84% Christian is a mystery) and as I collected my gear, five ‘parking attendants’ showed up to hassle Alex.

One of them was wearing Spike Lee framed spectacles. He was staring at my rasta-coloured bracelet on my left wrist.

“You rasta?” he asked me.

“Jah mun,” I said as I piled on my gear.

“Give me that bracelet,” he pointed at mine. “I want it. It has rasta colours.”

I straightened up and turned to him with a smile. “And what will you give me in exchange?”

“Nothing,” he laughed. “I have nothing.”

“Well, my friend,” I grinned, “you need to earn it from me. And if you cannot exchange, then you cannot get. Now,” I turned to the heavier set one of the five, “how do I reach the Central Post Office?”

“Let me get a boda-boda for you,” he said.

I stopped him before he summoned a motorbike. “I can walk.” Hearing that, the gentleman beside me let out a high-pitched, “Ah!” as though a bee had stung him. He was, indeed, shocked that I might actually utilise my legs in that crazy concept of placing one foot in front of the other, more popularly known as walking.

I turned to him with a grin. “You have legs?” I pointed to his. He nodded. “I have legs. You know what the difference is between us?”

He shook his head.

“I use mine.”

They all laughed as I headed off in the direction I eventually milked from them. The hot equatorial sun was beating down and hints of possible rain were lurking among the blue patches of sky. I hit the post office and went in to use the internet, see if I could contact Gisa via social media.

I couldn’t. His phone still didn’t ring and he wasn’t responding on Facebook.

Merde.

I figured I’d head on over to All About Uganda, the tour company that Kelley owns. She had hooked me up with the contact for the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and she also had a record label. And her office was in the Oasis Mall that had air conditioning.

“You should come see the band tonight at Bubbles,” she invited.

“They kinda let me down last time I was there,” I said. “I just wanted to play and all they had to do was give me a drink (which they did just for my patience) and something to eat. They wanted it to go through so many channels I just gave up.”

“Understandable,” she says. “But come anyway.”

As my reason for returning to Kampala was to meet the Gypsy Queen who was joining The Nomadic Diaries in Uganda (and had much to offer in terms of barter such as photography, videography, building art installations ) and arriving Friday, my mission was too find out where the Modern Coast bus she was taking from Nairboi to Kampala was going to eventually stop as it didn’t say on her ticket.

Kelley explained that the offices of Modern Coast were located, “Just up the road,” so I left my gear with her and trekked up. There was quite a line at the ticketing windows but I noticed some guy by the Staff Only door looking at handwritten numbers in an important looking book. Not having much want to wait in line I approached him.

“Excuse me,” I said slowly with a smile (and articulately as I’ve learned that my occa Australian accent can sometimes be interpreted as anything but English), “hi, how are you? Can you write for me the exact location of the last stop for the bus from Nairobi to Kampala in Kampala?”

“The station in Nairobi?”

Sigh.

If I had spoken any slower I would have been spelling it out. I don’t know how he thought I wanted the station in Nairobi. I think I was pretty clear when I said, “Kampala.”

He pointed up the road. “Just take the boda-boda. They will know.”

“Just write the location for me, please. I’m picking my friend up on Friday.”

“Come to this office on Friday and take the boda –”

“Listen,” I avoided slapping my forehead (and his), “I’m not coming to the office because it will waste my time and yours. I don’t need a boda-boda, I need you to write for me the exact location of where the bus stops in Kampala. Please.”

“I’m very busy,” he says.

“So am I,” I retorted (I wasn’t). “But unfortunately for both of us, your website doesn’t mention anywhere where the final stop is.” I paused for a second and then said, “Do you know where it is?”

“Yes,” he says, continuing to look through his book of numbers.

“Can you write it down for me, please?”

The man next to me was telling this worker to do as I was requesting, practically begging. He repeated himself as much as I did. He even offered the guy a brochure and said to him, “Just write it for him on this.”

The worker didn’t appreciate my having started a ‘Write For Me’ posse and in the end my new recruit turned to me and said, “Ask those guys in the back. They are the drivers.”

I thanked him (which saved a slap to the worker) and went to hassle them, making a mental note to make the guy my head henchman.

“Excuse me,” I said with a smile to the three gents sitting, “hi, how are you? Can you write for me the exact location of the last stop for the bus from Nairobi to Kampala in Kampala?”

“Nairobi?” one asked.

Oi ve.

“Kampala,” I sighed.

“Just take the boda-boda –”

“Do you know where the bus stops?”

“Yes.”

“Can you write it down for me? Please?” I was ready to detonate the building.

He got up to go to the office coming out after a second. “They are writing it for you.”

“Thanks,” I breathed out. I was handed the bit of paper. I was about to walk out when the driver stopped me.

“Let me write for you the number of the place,” he said and added, “It is a Fuel Station.”

“So the bus stops in the Fuel Station?”

“Yes,” he writes down Hassan’s number.

“Thank you,” and I shook his hand.

Back at Kelley’s she let me borrow her phone in the off chance that Gisa was now reachable. He was.

“The power was out and my phone was dead,” he excused.

“No problem.” I explained where I was and he suggested I go wait at the National Theatre around the corner.

“I’m out of town but I will see you in one hour.”

Meaning I had about three hours to kill.

“What are you wearing?” he asked before we hung up.

“Orange T-shirt, mate,” I said. “You can see it from space.”

 

Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Hitch Hiking, Uganda | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

HITCH HIKING IN UGANDA – PART III

© Rohini Das, 2015

© Rohini Das, 2015

“Where ya headed?” I asked the driver. He was the first one to pull over after I had walked half the length of Kampala on Bombo Rd to reach Amuka Lodge, about three hours north-west of Uganda’s capital.

“Bombo,” he said.

I wasn’t sure how far that was but if it took me out of this boda-boda-taxi ridden city, I’d be in a better position to hitch a ride.

“Can I go with you?” I asked. “I’m trying to reach Nakitoma.”

“I don’t know where it is,” he said. “But you can come.”

His wife was in the front seat and in the back was another fella. “Have you got room in the boot for my bags?”

He looked at the others, laughed and drove off, leaving me to stand dumbfounded, fighting not to drop my jaw as the amount of CO2 in the area was enough to embarrass China. His tail lights grew smaller into the distance.

Hope you get three flat tires you shitty fucker, I cursed him.

Oddly enough, the morning had begun better than I could hope for. I had left Kibuli (pronounced Chibuli) at sunrise, watching the big orange ball rise steadily in the east, casting an orange hue over the city as I walked downhill to reach the main road.

Behind me I could hear the wheels of a car. I turned to face the red Volvo station wagon and flagged it down. It’s rare that a woman would stop for me. Even rarer when it’s two. But Barbara and June took me to Old Kampala on their way to work.

“I’m just dropping June off at her work,” Barbara informed me. “She manages a hotel. Have you taken breakfast?”

“No, I haven’t,” I said, settling into the backseat.

“Then let me get you some breakfast at the hotel because you don’t know when you will eat.”

“That’s very kind of you,” I grinned, feeling a great start to the day. Even the grey clouds that had escorted the sun’s rising were dispersing.

I was presented with not only a tour of every unoccupied room in Ruhuka Inn (which means, ‘Place to rest’) but also a breakfast of an onion omelette with two slices of buttered white toast and a thermos of tea with milk (I don’t do milk so I passed on the tea).

June figured I’d like to watch some Al Jezzera but the staff member in charge of the TV put on the English Premier league. Not that I follow the football but it’s good to get an update as the majority of Africans practically worship the English league. And it was good to see my team, Liverpool, win it’s game.

I thanked June and hit the road. I predicted a long hike as I passed the jammed traffic lining up all the way to the other side of the city.

When my guitar bag was hit by a boda-boda (motorbike taxi) I got pissed off, cursing the driver. I kept walking, ignoring all the requests of riders wanting to take me. The dusty red-earthed sides of the road clogged my lungs along with all the exhaust fumes of the standing cars as I hiked downhill and then uphill, my shirt drowning me in my own sweat.

Even my pants where absorbing my body fluid.

Another boda-boda clipped my guitar bag, the rider almost getting jousted by the neck of it. I whipped around and said, “I’m not fucking invisible, mate. You can see me from space so open your fuckin’ eyes.”

He appeared embarrassed and sped off, his passenger trying not to giggle behind him.

When the third boda-boda clipped Ol’ Red I was ready to decapitate someone.

Finding cars with open windows that were jammed in the congested traffic I asked for directions to Bombo Road, the highway that would take me to Amuka Lodge and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

“I don’t know it,” said every driver I asked.

I began to doubt whether I was saying the name of the place right. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d mess up the pronunciation of a place (hitching to Kisumu I kept calling the place everything but Kisumu. Luckily, I was hitching with Rohini who took care of the names of places, scolding me lightly).

It was just the day before that I had been emailing with Angie who offered me three weeks volunteer work in exchange for food and bed at the lodge.

‘You’ll be laying cement and doing some other construction if you can handle that,’ she wrote.

‘Sure,’ I replied. Not that I’ve ever laid cement but, ‘I’m a quick learner as long as someone shows me what and how to do stuff.’

It was after what felt like 8 K’s walking in hot, equatorial sun that the car that was heading to Bombo stopped for me and then sped off.

So it’s gonna be one of those days.

I had rested by a service station in order to dry out my drenched clothes. After an hour I picked up my gear and continued to hike at least two more K’s before William, a technician with Aqua Life, a mineral water company, picked me up and took me, “Six miles down the road,” he said. “To Mutungo.”

If it took me outta Kampala, I’d ride a dead camel just about now.

“Do you know where Nakitoma is?” I asked, almost embarrassed to say the word.

“Yes,” he said.

Finally! “No one knows the place!” I exclaimed in excitement. “I thought I was saying it wrong.”

“No,” he grinned, “you are pronouncing it correctly. But it is very far.”

Mate, I thought, I’ve been travelling over land and sea from Australia to here. Mars is far. Three hours outta Kampala? That’s like a walk to the corner shop.

Once we reached Mutungo hitching was a breeze. Within ten minutes of being dropped in the roadside town, I hitched a ride with Tony and Nelson, coffee farmers on their way to a plantation.

“We are headed to Luwero,” said Tony, after he got off the phone. “It’s about 60 kilometres from here. From there, you can catch a lift to Nakitoma.”

“You know where it is as well?” I asked, my eyebrows rising.

“Of course,” he said. “Tell me,” he continued after learning that I was heading to the Middle East after Africa, “are you not afraid of the Islamic State?”

“The Islamic State should be afraid of me,” I grinned as he and Nelson erupted in laughter.

He asked me about the Aborigines of Australia and I informed him how, like in any Western country where the white man has stolen the lands of the indigenous, they have very little rights and access to education and health care. We parted ways in Luwero where I walked through the town. A smiling couple in a VW Golf stopped at an intersection and took me five minutes down the road. It was better than walking in the hot sun.

Thanking them, I walked downhill when James pulled over in his Nissan Navara, hitting the brakes hard.

“I’m heading to Masindi,” he said. “I know the rhino sanctuary. I can drop you there.”

A telecommunications engineer, James is divorced with three daughters. “I want two more children. But I want sons,” he grinned. “I’m getting married in November.”

“Congratulations,” I congratulated him.

He was of the Moyo tribe, from the northern reaches of Uganda. We pulled into a service station in Mijera, a major security hold where I met Pascal, his brother who works with the defence forces.

“What’s with all the security in Uganda?” I asked. “It’s like everyone’s paranoid here.”

“There are elections next year,” he said, “and the politicians are campaigning. And there is also Al Shabab.”

“Is Uganda a democracy?” I asked as James placed a dark black tea before me and a Rolex.

Unlike the watch, a Ugandan Rolex is an omelette fried with onions and tomato (also with potatoes and cabbage, pending on where you get it) and then wrapped and rolled into a chapati. It’s my new food addiction.

Pascal smiled uneasily and looked into the distance, trying to figure out how to answer my question.

“It’s OK,” I said, patting him on the shoulder. “I get it.” Democracy was a loose term in Africa.

“Are you a Christian?” he suddenly asked.

Uganda’s population is 84% Christian. It doesn’t explain why it houses the second largest mosque in Africa – the Gaddafi mosque overlooking Kampala – but that’s the way it is.

“I’m agnostic,” I said carefully.

“What does that mean?”

“I believe in Karma.”

“What is that?”

“You do good things, good things happen to you.”

“So who created the world?” he asked, slightly taken aback.

I love this question. “The earth is 4 billion-years-old, my friend,” I began. “It was created when stars collided creating an explosion that formed gases that created the planet we now call home. The Bible, which is a book with good moral and ethical stories, is just a book. But it claims that god created the earth five thousand years ago, right?”

He nodded.

“Then how do you explain the scientific proof that the Mayans pre-date the Bible? The Aborigines of Australia? Their history goes back 50,000 years.”

Pascal’s jaw dropped as James laughed.

“You are lost, my friend,” Pascal said.

“No, mate. I’m quite found, actually,” I grinned.

“It’s science,” James backed me up.

“Do you know what dinosaurs are?” I asked Pascal.

He shook his head, misty eyed in disbelief.

“You know what a crocodile is, yeah?”

“Yes, of course.”

“So basically, a crocodile is the last remaining dinosaur. These are huge creatures that became extinct 65 million years ago. The crocodile has been around for 200 million years, my friend.”

Pascal leaned back in his chair. He looked to James and then too me.

“Just now,” I was on an unstoppable roll, “in South Africa, a species related to us was discovered. Its bones date back three million years. In Ethiopia and Kenya bones were discovered of our ancestors in the 50s and 60s dating back two million years.

The Bible is just a book with stories.”

He stared at me flabbergasted. “Why do you not tell this to everybody?” he demanded.

“I’m not a preacher, mate,” I said. “If someone asks, then I’ll tell them what I believe in. If they don’t, I won’t force it on anyone. You believe what you want, Pascal,” I put a comforting hand on his arm. “And as long as you’re happy and comfortable, that’s cool. I don’t judge.”

We shook hands as Pascal continued to sit, slightly shocked by having his religous world shattered as James and I walked back to the car.

“I think I disturbed him with my science,” I said.

“He is too religious,” said James.

“You’re not?”

“I’m an engineer. I believe in god but not everything in the bible is gospel.”

We hit the road and a half hour later I was dropped at the Amuka Lodge, James going about 15 K’s out of his way to make sure I made it safely through the bush.

“James, safe travels, my friend,” I shook his hand. “Hope you get those two sons.”

“Thanks for the company,” he grinned as he pulled away.

I was greeted by Jarrad who does T-shirt printing and manages the bar. After putting my gear away in the chalet I had lunch cooked by the talented David and then dived ankle deep into the cement job I had arrived to do.

Four hours later, we finished up, I showered and met Angie and her son, Duan.

“We took over this place about nine years ago,” said the South African native. “We have a stable number of rhinos (numbers are excluded for protection), leopards and cerval cats. We recently discovered that we have honey-badgers too.”

“Oh, those things are ferocious,” I said, recalling a few videos I had seen about them.

“Just when you go to bed,” Angie warned, “make sure you have a flash light as the rhinos do come into the lodge.”

“What do I do in the off-chance that I’m charged?” I asked.

I knew how to handle a predator. In theory, if a predator charges at you, you charge back. Why that freaks them out? I guess they don’t expect it from a puny bi-pedal. But non-predators? They’re more dangerous than predators because if they charge at you, your only option is to run. And non-predators run much faster than us puny bi-pedals.

“Climb a tree or hide behind an anthill,” offered Angie.

Nothing better I like doing at night than climb a tree.

I had dinner of potatoes and chicken wings, a glass of white wine (I was feeling posh) and then I walked back to my chalet with my flashlight on.

It was the longest walk of my life as I turned almost 360 degrees in search of rhinos.

“They’re very quiet,” Angie’s voice echoed in my head.

“The rhinos don’t lift their legs high enough,” Duan had said as I eyed the knocked-over bricks lining the pathway. “It’s a constant job to put the bricks back.”

It’s gonna be an interesting three weeks.

Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Conservation, Hitch Hiking, Uganda | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

HITCH HIKING IN UGANDA – PART II

© Rohini Das, 2015

© Rohini Das, 2015

“So you’re a reverend?” I asked Emma, who stopped for Julia and I just before the bridge that crosses the Nile River at its source from Lake Victoria.

Julia, from Germany, was heading to Kampala and I invited her to hitch with me. When hitching with a female companion, it’s best to play husband and wife. For safety and to avoid awkward questions.

So for the next two hours I was married too Julia, answering Emma’s question of, “Are you related?”

“No, she’s my wife,” I grinned as we crossed the Owen Dam bridge over the Nile, the very dam that killed Rippon Falls, where Specke had discovered the source of Africa’s mightiest river.

Kampala, Uganda’s capital, was only about an hour away. We joined the truck that took that morning’s rafters to their white-water activity with Nile River Explorers. The driver dropped us at the roundabout that either leads into Jinja or heads to Kampala.

We walked down the road and were about to set up just past a service station when a para-military officer brandishing a formidable AK-47 appeared outta nowhere and suggested we attempt to stop vehicles elsewhere.

Turns out the Ugandan police don’t like it when you try to hitch outside of their barracks.

We walked down the road and just passed the first section of the bridge I managed to flag down Emma.

“I’m a priest,” he said. “A Catholic priest.”

I’ve always wanted to meet a Catholic priest and ask them a question that had been boggling my mind. It wasn’t keeping me awake at nights but I was curious.

“Can I ask you, as a man of god,” I worded my question carefully, “you’re not allowed to marry and have children, right?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile.

“But doesn’t the bible say that you must pro-create?”

He thought for a minute. “Yes, it does. But to be able to devote myself to the Lord, I must sacrifice having a family.” He then went on to explain that, “In order to become a priest, you have to do medical tests. If it is found that you cannot have children, then you cannot become a priest.”

Wait a minute, “Your ultimate sacrifice is not to have a family,” I pushed lightly, “but if you’re incapable for whatever reason – medical or infertility – then you can’t become a priest?” I asked.

“Yes.”

I frowned. “But if we are all created equal in the eyes of god, then isn’t that discrimination?”

“It is not,” he countered. “To be able to become a priest, to enter the service, I have to sacrifice in order to devote myself to the lord. But if I cannot have children for the reasons you state, then what am I sacrificing?”

Human touch? Love? Going out on weekends? Safaris? White water rafting? Pedophilia? The list is endless. “You choose to devote your life to the service so isn’t that a sacrifice in itself?” I pushed.

“Er, yes,” he stumbled, “in a way but it is not how the church operates.”

“Of course not,” I said. It totally contradicts its own belief, discriminates and goes against the very words it preaches.

Emma focused on driving for a minute before I figured maybe it would be best to change the subject.

“You have siblings?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m one of nine children.”

“Nine?”

Jesus, what is it with this country and the amount of kids produced per family?

“Yes,” he grinned. “I’m one of two boys. The rest are girls.”

I contacted my couch surfing host, Michael, who I then passed on to Emma to figure out where to drop us. Julia was staying with a friend and we reckoned we might catch up during the next few days before her flight back to Germany.

“I will drop you at the Centenary Bank,” Emma said. “He will come to collect you on a boda-boda.”

As we entered Kampala, passing the Mandela National Stadium, I quickly concluded that the traffic here was about 12 times worse than in Nairobi or Zambia’s Lusaka. We thanked Emma for the ride and wished him all the best.

“Well,” I said to Julia, “I guess this is where we divorce.”

Laughing, she headed up to the post office which has a cyber café while I waited for Michael, who arrived a few minutes later. We each got onto a boda-boda and I held on for dear life, considering a life of serving the church the way my driver was riding.

Kampala is quite the hilly city. In fact it means,’ Seven Hills’ on which it was built (now spread to 13). After about 20 minutes we made it to Mike’s place where I put my bags down and he explained that, “I’m going to Entebbe to say goodbye to some French friends that are leaving.”

“OK,” I said and 20 minutes later he left me to his pad.

I’m always impressed by anyone who’ll trust me enough to just leave me in their home. It happened to me in Thailand when my host went to a mediation retreat and she left me with not only her hilltop home overlooking the Gulf of Thailand but also her scooter.

I met Julie who lives with her boyfriend in the unit next door.

“If you need anything, she can help you,” Mike had explained. “She also cooks the food.”

Paul, son of the landlord showed up in the evening.

“I play rugby,” he said upon discovering my Aussie roots.

“Sorry, mate,” I said. “I don’t follow the rugby.”

“I also like watching the cricket,” he tried to warm up to me.

“Yeah, I don’t do cricket either,” I said. “I like surfing, football, basketball, volleyball and anything underwater.”

He explained the things to see in Kampala. “There is the Gaddafi mosque, the second largest in Africa, the tombs of the Buganda Kingdom, the old taxi park – also known as ‘Organised Confusion’ – and one of the biggest markets in Africa.” He grinned. “In Kampala, everything is walking distance.”

“Perfect,” I said. “I like walking.”

We were about a degree above the equator and it was pretty hot in the city but still, no better way to get to know a new place than using your own two feet. He wished me well and I made an outline for the next day – find tour operators and see if I could barter a gorilla trek or anything else and perhaps head west towards Murchisons Falls National Park.

Cities just aren’t my thang.

Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Hitch Hiking, Uganda | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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