Day 4 (27 June)
Our first border day! Passports, $50 and pens at the ready, we set off for the Kenya/Uganda border. It was a fairly easy process, which surprised me after some of the descriptions of African border crossings I’d heard before. We queued up, got our passports stamped and we were on our way again.
I spent most of the day leaning our of the open sides of the truck and waving to the kids at the side of the road. I had thought that Kenya was beautiful, but Uganda was even better – just miles and miles of unspoilt beauty. The Ugandans were in general friendlier than the Kenyans who could be a little frostier at times.
We’d been driving for some time in the direction of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, when Joe informed us he had a treat for us to break up the long drive. All of us got ridiculously excited and speculated for the next part of the journey what this surprise might be…
It turns out this surprise was meat on a stick from a roadside market. I stayed behind in the truck on guard duty while Becky went to get my stick (beef) and watched as the locals crowded the truck to try and sell us various food products.
I was pretty excited for my beef, so I tucked into it when Becky brought it back for me. It tasted and looked really weird and I’d got about halfway through before I went: “Becky, this tastes like pâté…” And we then determined that she’d somehow managed to get me chicken livers on a stick instead of beef.
It wasn’t until much later that Kyle, our driver, told me this, but apparently while we were at the market he was approached by a bus driver who said: “I’ll trade your women – white for black”. Luckily for all of us ladies on the truck he politely refused.
When we arrived in Kampala we set about putting our tents up and soon after hit the bar to make use of our first wifi in days. G&Ts consistently cost about $1-2 so I tucked into plenty of them. After dinner we returned to the bar for plenty more drinks, games like the old favourite Never Have I Ever, Chicken Goggles and Fuzzy Duck. A small group of us remained into the small ours as slowly the others sloped off to bed after too much to drink. We attempted to organise a night out in Kampala but it was so overly complicated that in the end we gave up and just stayed in the camp bar.
We had a free day in Kampala, but almost all of us decided to stick together and go to visit the capital’s slums (only James and Cassy didn’t as they went to see the chimps on Chimpanzee Island). We were met at the campsite by our transport, a local matatu which we all squeezed into. It was so hot – I was in the window seat and the sun coming in through the window burnt my arm quicker than I could pile suncream on. It was a real relief when we finally got to the slums so we could get out of the minivan.
The tour of the slums was organised by local charity and aid AFFCAD, who provide education, food, water, healthcare and other things for the people who live in the poorest (and recently voted “dirtiest”) area of Kampala. They told us about the work they do and how their support has helped so many of the slum’s inhabitants.
For some of the world’s most deprived people, they were also the most friendly and welcoming. There were excited cries of “mzungu!” (white people) from all sides as we were shown around, children ran after us and wanted to touch us, shake hands and high five us. Despite the awful conditions the children live in (no clean water, litter, no toilets and flood damage among others), their smiles were completely infectious.
The highlight of the day had to be the trip to the school AFFCAD had built. We spoke to the head teacher and popped into the classrooms to see the luckiest of the slum’s children who were receiving an education. They rely on donations for equipment like books and uniform – I spotted among their bags a Hannah Montana school bag, which looked so bizarre in a classroom that was barely more than a shed.
After the tour of the school we went to see some of the families that the charity supports. We had each bought some rice to donate, which was particularly appreciated by one lady who then proceeded to tell Becky that she looked like the spitting image of her daughter and gave her the biggest hug.
After our tour had finished we were served a traditional meal of chipatti and beans. After all we had seen we felt under serious pressure to eat everything, but they eat it in the slums for a reason – it’s really filling! (American) Cassy managed to accidentally drop her plate on the floor so luckily I had someone to help finish my plate.
When we returned, we got to chat properly with our new (late) arrival, Emma who had flown into Kampala that morning.
More time was spent at the bar and I had to do my first press-ups for saying the b word (bus) in relation to Gunga, a new rule we added in addition to the “mine” punishment. I wasn’t very successful and perhaps shouldn’t have chosen to do them in the red dust (which was very difficult to get off).
Becky won the Numpty Award that night for saying that it “would be fun” to live in the slums (and my response is the title of this blog post) and for asking whether the dyed hot pink chickens in the slums were naturally that colour.