Friday, June 03, 2011

The Bakiga Window: Oraire Gye Nyabo?

The luggage bus makes it to the border, en route to Kabale, Uganda.
"Oraire gye nyabo?" I ask the lady at the passport control desk. Her response is to giggle at me before starting to process the pile of twenty-six passports - a heady mix of nationalities with and without visas depending on who you are and where you're from. I am assured later that my pronunciation of a standard greeting that translates as 'how did you spend your night, madam?' is perfectly fine, but it is the fact that it is a mzungu saying it which has raised a giggle.

It is Sunday 10th April and we've left Rwanda and are now waiting on the Ugandan side of the border to be processed and allowed into the country officially. In past years we've all had to fill in forms individually and queue up to be seen one by one. This year we have a pragmatic border controller who is willing to process us in one group. Thank the Lord - we are on a tight schedule today!

Having made our way through the winding roads of Rwanda, we find ourselves in Kabale district in the southwestern Uganda. The weather is increasingly hot and the sights increasingly familiar: the hawkers in no man's land trying to exchange your money for you, the border police with their stern faces and the endless lines of trucks seemingly waiting forever to go through customs, but never moving.

Our small luggage minibus has successfully navigated its way through both the Rwandan and Ugandan border checks ahead of us and was waiting on the Ugandan side. After a quick chat with the driver, Grigorios and Hanka I dispatched the minibus to get to the hotel in Kabale before us.

A short while later, the passports are done and the friendly Ugandan border controllers are happy to let us through. The students are all looking exceptionally excited now as I load them back onto our Toyota Coaster. 

With many of them having been asleep for most of the spectacular journey through the Rwandan countryside, they've awoken to fact that we are now many miles from the airport home and even further into the heart of Africa. This is where our African experience really begins.

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