After the new year celebration in Entebbe, with fireworks, free champagne and even a PUMPKIN CHEESE CAKE, I woke up to the new year under light rain and in another red mud bath. Packed my very dirty and now heavy tent, put everything on the bike and off I went.
The first km are always intimidating but soon I was taking a ferry and enjoying my first interactions with villagers.
Once on the other side, I followed a really beautiful dirt road, all red and green (earth and trees), with lots of kids waving and getting all excited, saying ‘Bye mzungu’. Anybody who traveled to this part of Africa would know what I mean. It is similar to being called ‘Sister’ in an orphanage in India! But also done in a friendly way.
I rode slowly on this road, perfect for bike riding, stopped for my first rolex (omelet, tomatoes and cabbage rolled into a chapati) and finally reached my destination: Mpanga forest, a nice reserve 30 km from Entebbe.
The last few km were on a main road and that was such a contrast with the peaceful dirt road through the villages that I decided to take a bus to Kabale the next day, skipping about 400 km to get closer to the national parks.
In the morning I went back on the main road to catch a bus. Ran into very helpful and friendly traffic control police officers who said: ‘We can stop the bus for you’, which they did. But it took 2 hours for the right bus to show up, so meanwhile we chatted about Uganda and Canada, and they found that shocking that I didn’t want to ‘produce’ (have children) and that wives came for free in Canada. By the way, if anybody wants a Ugandan husband, I have a candidate that has many cows and could buy a good wife.
The bus ride was pretty much what one would expect from a long bus ride in Africa. The first few hours were interesting and the last few hours were becoming pretty intense, between the heat, the smells, the loud music (I have to remember to locate the speakers next time I take a bus), the relative discomfort of sharing my seat with a very nice man and his two small children (and even another guy for about an hour… 5 people sharing 3 seats).
I was actually amazed by how well behaved these children were most of the way (we all got tired and less patient at the end), and could not believe that they didn’t have to go to the bathroom. But eventually, I realized that whenever they had to go, their dad would hold them between his knees, and they would squat and do their business quietly right on the floor. The man would then use something to clean up (kid and floor?) and put the ‘something’ into a plastic bag (luckily for them, plastic bags are not banned in Uganda, as opposed to Rwanda) and swing it out the window. I laughed and thought there is always something new to learn.
Once in Kabale, I was ‘welcomed’ by a very itense crowd of ‘Ugandan friends’ at the bus station, but managed to escape quickly, and reached the very comfortable Kabale Backpackers (Hostel).
Kabale is not the most interesting town, but I stayed for the day anyway, to relax, enjoy the hostel and experience town life.
So with a non-impressive 30 km log in 4 days, I will continue the trend tomorrow by riding less than 10 km (but up a very big hill) to Lake Bunyonyi, where I will likely chill some more for a day or two…