Monday, 6 September 2010

Billy's Ugandan Journal

Day 2 - Saturday 17th July
After a couple of short hours in Istanbul airport, mulling over whether we should all chip in to buy a few thirst quenchers for the remainder of the journey, we were soon boarding the plane for Entebbe. There was a slight delay, which, at first was a little worrying, but with us all soaked of our remaining energy we didn’t enquire, we simply sat there and waited and when the time finally came we all boarded the plane like excited, yet drained zombies.

The flight was more or less incident free. We all managed to get a few hours sleep, well, not quite everyone; Jody and Mary decided that at 3am in the morning, it would be a great time to get cameras and camcorders out to document the occasion. Fantastic! Just what we all wanted! Where they got the energy and drive from I do not know, but what I did know was that the other 15 people in the group would be laughing last later on in the day. 

I was fortunate enough to get a window seat for this leg of the journey, which truth be told is imperative for me usually, but for this trip it is the only part I desperately wanted one.  I really wanted to see from above what Uganda looked like, was it hilly or flat? What were the buildings and towns like? What were the roads like and was there any traffic on them? These are just are just a few samples of the questions I was asking myself as we were descending into Entebbe International Airport. My initial thoughts were actually how green and landscaped Uganda was and how many roads there were, however, these were not quite the roads I travelled along every day back in the UK. 

When we finally landed, roughly 7.30am in the morning, it instantly hit me what a massively different country Uganda was from the UK, just from the airport. To walk off an aeroplane and walk unescorted across a good few hundred metres of tarmac would not be ratified in around 90% of the world. There was only one other aeroplane at the airport, and there was very few facilities that modern day airports contain. If I had not just walked off an aeroplane, and the other ‘Air Uganda’ wasn’t to my right, I would not believe I was in an airport the building was very basic as well. Sadly some things don’t change anywhere in the world though, we all had to fill out several pieces of paperwork to grant us access to the country. Instead of taking 5 minutes, it actually took us around 30, due to two pens being brought between 17 of us and just about everyone asking, ‘How long are we here for?’ A positive and efficient start... 

We then collected our baggage and the worries and panic of somebody losing theirs on the connecting flight were addressed with a relatively quick delivery of everyone’s luggage. Thank goodness for that! Soon after we were reunited with our project leader,
Erin, who had travelled out a few days prior to our arrival to prepare any fine details for the project, it was nice to see a friendly face upon our arrival. We were then introduced to our two drivers; Moses and Richard who made us all feel extremely welcome from the first second, helping us with our bags and consistently wearing a smile. I was even more impressed and amazed when they managed to fit all of our bags on the roof of the two vehicles, and even more so when just the odd piece of rope managed to keep them strapped down for the entirety of the journey.


We were all ready and good to go and get on the road to our accommodation when were approached by a visitor wishing to travel with us. A middle aged Croatian, Vladimir, was also travelling to Kampala and therefore took it upon himself to invite himself onto our carrier for the journey. We all got talking to ‘Vlad’ and found out more about him and what he was aiming to do whilst in Uganda and he seemed to be a decent enough chap. He was even kind enough to share with us photos of his pet dog and his daughter, who he felt would become a future wife for me. I well and truly flattered whilst the other members of the group were sniggering away and making wedding plans. What was so funny I do not know...

A Typical Ugandan Street Scene
I don’t recall saying too much during the journey to our accommodation, as I was in such deep thought and taking in every little detail that I could see from my window. Everything was so dissimilar and nothing like I imagined. People’s gestures, building structure, transport, travel, the climate and the general vibe and atmosphere were just some of the characteristics that I sensed major differences in. The hour long trip to Red Chilli Hideaway (our accommodation) was like a safari where we all took in our new surroundings and the platform for our living conditions for the next two weeks was laid. I couldn’t wait to get out there to see and experience more, at the moment it was just pictures in motion, but the pictures were well worth seeing and gave a good indication of what laid ahead...

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