Skip to main content

The Uganda Diaries: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale - 20.06 04/04/2009

I feel already as though I have been here for a week. I have perhaps experienced deepest Africa more so today than before. After leaving Entebbe Backpackers we made for the Equator via the outskirts of the capital Kampala.

Kampala is extremely dense when compared, like-for-like, with Entebbe. It seems that no one in Kampala is idle. Everyone moves with purpose. The air is thick with the fumes of mopeds (boda-bodas), the dust from the rapidly drying ground, the dying exhalation of diesel exhausts and, somewhat thankfully, the scent of barbecuing food.

As you pass through Kampala you feel like a very white (mzungu) fish in a very tropical fish shop. This continues as the bus winds its way through the suburbs, still just as industrious, but distinctly less smoggy.

At the Equator, enterprising souls have set up craft shops and attempt, using broad smiles and bucket loads of African charm, to sell you there traditional wares; these range from the ubiquitous hand-carved elephants to hand painted pictures/canvasses going for USh 750,000. Poor old Rebecca nearly keeled over when the happy saleswoman broke the news to her! Poor Cherub.

Anyway, I spent no money this time, but made a solemn promise to one retailer that I would "return to him" - to prove this, I shook his hand and took a picture of him, in front of his shop, by which I could remember him. Excessive I know, but he had a charm to him. Another stall was being run by a girl, who I wouldn't have thought a day over fifteen, that had her five month old baby lying upon a blanket, on the floor, under a shelf. At this point I told her all about Cianan, my nephew.

My writing has currently become quite broken; I have been joined by the fabulous Francessca, rowdy Ruby and amazing Anthony.

Our journey continued on through countless townships and villages inhabited by poor, but happy, harmonious people. Children playing with and selling fruit - would you believe it, USh 4,000 for fifty bananas?  The adults all seem so industrious; everyone has their own business it seems. It makes me angry that in the UK so many poor people just wallow in their own self-pity, as opposed to fighting for survival.

This country is beautiful. I have been meaning to mention it for a while, but, the instant I set eyes upon Uganda, I fell in love. I have already resolved, by hook or by crook, that I shall return.

As our journey continued, stopping in Mbarara briefly, I continued to observe the people - the women with the most beautiful of postures, bent-double, everywhere tending to the land, children tied to their backs, all in the searing heat. The females appear to be the labourers here; men are for 'trades'.

For the final leg of the journey I was sat next to Teequay. She is a girl with a 'head on her shoulders'. We discussed a number of divergent topics. Our conversation lasted until sunset and, as darkness and heavy rain descended, we made Green Hills Hotel, Kabale.


Popular posts from this blog

Atay Maghrebi: To Essaouira and the Atlantic

Leaving Marrakech, the landscape stays flat, except for a few distant outcrops of rock. The sensation of the inhospitality of the environment creeps up on you as the olive groves become fewer and further between and rough scrub runs away to the base of distant hills.
Eventually, the landscape starts to undulate as you pass through small towns like Sid L’Mokhtar, and, after two hours, Morocco simply runs out of land as the coach starts to plummet down to the Atlantic coastline and the peeling whitewash of Essaouira’s medina.

The morning started with the obligatory slices of sweet cake dipped into apricot jam, with a side of yoghurt and coffee. I had a chat with Merissa who was already awake and wearing sunglasses like she was nursing a hangover.
I packed up my bags and meandered my way out of the medina towards Bab Laksour to get a taxi.
Having learned the lesson last year that taxi metres are always mysteriously broken in Marrakech, I readied myself for a battle with the driver who…

Atay Maghrebi: Out of the Dark and into Jemaa El-Fnaa

The night time offers a wealth of opportunity and intrigue in almost any country, but when I'm somewhere where my understanding of the language extends to just a handful of phrases and disconnected words, I find it all the more enthralling. Marrakech genuinely quickens the pulse and widens the eyes by night, with the famous Jemaa El-Fnaa as its wildly arrhythmic beating heart.

After a day of perfectly idle wandering and preparing for my journey to Essaouira, I sat up on the roof terrace, ordered atay, read the ending of Alex Garland’s The Beach and waited for sunset.

During this time, a Dutch woman and a Belgian man sat near to me and started to talk about a range of subjects. Most of their discussion was centred around the regular banalities of two travellers who don’t know each other well and clearly don’t have a great deal in common.
Shortly before sunset, the Belgian man caught my attention as he started to regale his newfound friend with quotes from the Quran taken both ou…

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called