We had quite a long drive to Jinja, part of which was navigating around midday Kampala traffic. So we had a quick breakfast, made our lunches so we saved the stopping time, and departed at 6:00AM.
It was a long, hot, HOT, dusty day. Bus-truck seating rules includes a daily clockwise shift in seats. So this day I was at the fourtop table with Australians Brett and Jackie. Most of us spent the morning sleeping, and then in mid-afternoon the three of us played card games. One of these was a card version of monopoly – similar to the board game but very different in it’s execution. And MUCH more fun. After a few rounds of being beat by me and Jackie, Brett called it quits. So we switched to my childhood game of Egyptian Ratscrew, which of course they picked up quickly. It’s been a while since I’ve played, and I was reminded of when we played with Mom as kids (who taught us this? Doug Fritz?). We used to laugh so hard wed cry, and this game was just like it. I can’t find the words to describe what was even so funny, but my stomach hurt from laughter.
We stopped at the edge of Kampala for a loo break around 11:00, and we all loitered outside the service station to avoid additional time In he stifling truck. Pam mentioned a few days ago that the hours in the truck have caused her legs to swell. After this trip I fully understood what she meant. My toes were the size of little sausages, and my knees had swollen to the point that my knee ached. Water retention?
John told us we were making such good time that we were gong through – rather than around – Kampala. That might have been a bad idea. Just on the other side of the city we hit a massive line of traffic and a dead stop due to construction shortly ahead. The matatus begin do drive on the left dirt road, causing two massive lines of traffic at a dead stop. Then matatus begin to pass on the right in the opposite lane. Three massive lines of traffic at a dead stop. Then traffic began to come through from the other side and couldn’t get past because of the three lanes of traffic blocking them. Kampala madness for an hour and a half. TIA = This Is Africa. Hot afternoon sun shined in. No breeze. None of us spoke to each other, because what is there to say?
After an hour and a half of barely moving, John got out to help the few poor souls directing traffic. He said to them and other matatu drivers “I have to get theses tourists to Nairobi for their flights! You want tourists to stop coming and spending their money? Fine. Don’t let us through.” That’s when we finally got through. But then – on the other side of the construction – we found the identical problem: inbound trucks created multiple lanes and outbound our outbound traffic.
When we finally arrived in Jinja we’d been on the road for 9 hours. Jinja is the explorers capital of Uganda – rafting, kayaking, bunjee jumping, many western backpackers have to begun to transform it into a destination. As we pulled into The Nile River Explorers Club – we were greeted with people doing yoga on the grass, a beautiful campsite and bar/restaurant, and full explorers activities – all perfectly situated on the Nile. Since these were my last two days of vacation I splurged on a private room and bath.
The guides threw together a wonderful dinner with meat, carrots, and rice. I’ve no idea what spices they use but it was delicious. As we ate we had two guides come talk to us – one for rafting and another for kayaking. I was sure I’d do white water rafting but they swayed me the opportunity to learn white water kayaking. I signed up for the full day: lesson, lunch, and a kayaking trip down the Nile.
I went to the bar area to sit with Daniel, Francesca, and Sabrina and to watch the World Cup game before turning in early to sleep.