After the fabulous trek to the Sipi Falls we left for Kampala on a YY Bus. This is a really cheap way to travel any great distance. Our coach was licenced to seat 67 passengers. The seats are arranged in threes down one side and pairs down the other side. There is less space per passenger than on the cheapest of economy airlines. I learnt last time it’s better to pay for an extra seat and be able to spread out. Our journey was expected to be about four to four and a half hours long. The buses leave the bus park as soon as they are full. We let one bus go because we could only have two seats. After about half an hour to fill the bus we were on our way. It was a ‘good’ journey, if any journey can be good in cramped conditions, extreme noise from the on board television set and sixty-five other passengers. One of the passengers always tends to be a travelling salesman telling us about his wares. The roads are bumpy, have many pot holes and speed bumps that would be illegal in the UK. These appear even on major roads. On the dirt roads they are even more extreme.
Our journey lasted best part of six hours after joining the grid lock of suburban Kampala.
Within half an hour we were back at the apartment where we had stayed earlier. We were greeted by our hostess Hhope, and that’s not a typo, are were soon relaxing.
Our original shedule, or programme, to use the local expression was to meet Roy Godber and Margie at the apartments where they were also staying.
They had travelled with Robert to see a newly formed farm a couple of hours drive away. Our delay meant we missed the lunch that Margie had prepared for us all.
A trip to a local supermarket and food market provided us with our needs for several days of self-catering.
By the time Roy, Margie and Robert returned it was well towards sunset so we agreed to catch up in the morning.
For my dinner I cooked an omelette and a slice of fried bread plus a bowl of fresh fruit. Lillian had wanted me to wait thirty minutes for Margie to prepare a late dinner. Half an hour African time is more likely to be one to one and a half hours. I was too hungry to wait that long so made the decision to have the omelette. Despite Lillian’s protests that it wouldn’t be any quicker my mind was made up. She went to tell Margie I wouldn’t wait. After about twenty minutes she returned and was staggered that I had prepared, cooked and eaten the omelette.
The next morning we caught up with the other three. Briefly, I had met Roy in 2016 at my home to give him some quick tuition in pole-lathe turning, especially skew chisel use. At this point we started making plans for me to join him in 2017. During that trip we met Margie at the hotel where we stayed in Mbale. Roy has helped to support her since then. Roy and I met Robert at the PONT Workshop where he was researching options for making a steel footbridge over a river in a village. I was unable to communicate with Robert as his phone number was lost when I dropped my mobile. It was good to catch up with his project. He showed me photos of the work in progress. With much improvisation due to a shortage of funds and a lack of local resources they made remarkable progress. One of the best improvisations was a concrete mixer made from an oil drum powered by a two man crank. It was able to be tilted to empty. The bridge still needs to be finished and Robert was planning to return to the project once he was back at home in Kenya. Robert, a retired engineer, is funding the project from his own meagre pension. Once finished the bridge will allow the villagers to cross the river even in full flow during the wet season. A very long walk to another bridge is the only safe alternative. Especially so for children travelling to and from school.
Sadly Robert had to leave for home that afternoon so the reunion was very short.
The next morning Roy moved into a one bedroomed apartment as Margie had to return home to Mbale.
The next day was sheduled for some tourism and to meeting two of Lillian’s brothers who both live in Kampala. Read about this in the next post.