Friday, October 18, 2013

Travel in Africa

Travel in Africa is always an adventure. 

If you plan on coming to visit me (which I hope you do) plan to add on an extra two or three hours to the time you think it will take you to get there. 

The roads of Kyarusozi- buckle up!
Tuesday we planned to travel from Kyarusozi to Kampala and then on to Entebbe airport for our 5:30pm flight to Ethiopia for the marathon. So Tuesday we woke up at 5:30am to get a 6am ride from Kyarusozi to Rugombe- the trading center closest to the main road, and the place where we were planning on catching the bus to Kampala, the capitol city. We had the Brothers of the Holy Cross driver take us to what we thought would be Rugombe, but once we reached the town he continued to drive right on past for another half hour to Fort Portal- the area where the bus office was. We were told the bus would be arriving shortly so after thirty minutes and the first of several pit latrine stops (think smelly, dirty hole in the ground) for the day we boarded the bus and were on our way to Kampala- the scariest city in Uganda. As mzungo girls we were quickly bombarded by several Ugandan taxi drivers who climbed onto our bus curious to know our final destination and offered to give us a ride or carry our bags for a large fee. 

When we got off the bus more taxi drivers and random people came up to us offering to carry our bags. We tried to ask for directions to Kampala taxi park, but no one would help us without us paying them- even the bus park workers. So with our arms and backs loaded with luggage (we both have a bad problem of overpacking) we set out for what we hoped was the right direction. After a few stops and a couple hundred mzungo calls we made it to the outside of the bus park where we stopped for a minute to rest our sore arms and wipe our dripping faces. It was there we found our bus park angel who escorted us to the bus marked for Entebbe stage. It's not easy to find the right bus when there are about 80 or so buses of the exact same color crammed into one small square. 

The matatu (bus) was packed with about fifteen passangers and dropped us off at the Entebbe stage where we then found a taxi (private hire) to take us to the airport. Upon seeing two young, white female mzungos the driver told us it would cost 45,000 shillings to drive 4 miles. Now keep in mind we just drove around 30 miles from Kampala to Entebbe for 4,0000 shillings and paid 20,000 shillings for a drive from Fort Portal to Kampala. So there was no way i was going to pay him that much for 4 miles. After doing some bargaining and telling him that we were his fellow Ugandans we were able to bring the price down to 20,000. With all the driving behind us we thought the rest of the day would run smoothly- boy were we wrong!

We arrived at the airport ticket counter for Ethiopian airlines and the lady told us she needed a copy of our credit cards. Now we had already paid for our flights and were hesitant to give her our cards due to the risk of identity theft. So the lady said I could follow her as she made a copy. Well, the first copier was down because the power was out, the second copier was locked and the key was lost, so off we went to the main office where we waited half an hour to get a copy, and then subsequently were able to cross out our credit card numbers on the paper.

Okay, done we thought. We now had access to a "real" toilet, could wash the red dust off our faces, and surprisingly access wifi! After browsing throught the gift shops the flight attendant found us and told us the plane would be leaving an hour earlier. Okay, great. We walked out onto the tarmac and boarded a beautfilul plane. The flight went smoothly and we arrived in Addis Adaba around 7pm and met up with our tour group dirver. Unfortunatley, we ended up waiting for over an hour because 3 other members of the tour group failed to show up, and we did not know what happened to their flight. By the time we left the airport it was dark outside, but immediatly we could tell this city was way bigger then the capitol of Uganda.

We arrived at Yaya Village in the mountains of Ethiopia and immediatly Anne and I could tell that there was a problem. Althought the men only spoke Ahmaric their panicked faces and constant phone calls had us suspicious. Turns out they had overbooked the hotel, and there were no rooms left. Apparently, their solution was going to be to knock on the rooms of some other visitors staying and kick them out. Way to go Africa. Luckily (for them) they did not do that and instead put us up at another runner hotel down the road. After a broken shower and another room change in that hotel we made it to bed exhaused but grateful we had arrived. 

All in all, nothing's easy in Africa! But, hey we did get a free meal and a massage out of the situation!

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