Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Home again

At Entebbe we phoned Moses and he came and collected the car.  We weren't allowed into the terminal building until nearer our flight time, so we sat outside in the balmy evening air before putting on some warmer clothes for the flight.

Once in the building we were approached by students doing a survey for the Uganda tourist authority, so were able to give our impressions of the country direct to the people who count - lovely people, terrible roads, fantastic wildlife, terrible roads, excellent national parks, terrible roads, nice accommodation, terrible roads......

KLM woke us at 1am for dinner and then 5am for breakfast.  Thank you.

Home in the cold and wet, only to find that our estate agent has only gone and sold our house that's been on the market for 7 months.  Oh well another adventure begins....

Why don't you use your headlights?

We waited til after lunch before heading off on the long journey home.  The road was pretty good, just the usual mad minibuses and some big trucks with awful emissions.

As we skirted the side of Lake Victoria fishermen would risk their lives by diving in front of the car holding up the day's catch in the hope that we might stop and buy. We were not sure they would keep fresh on the flight home, so we politely declined their offers by swerving dangerously into the oncoming traffic.  The fisherman seemed to have plenty of customers though, as we passed plenty vehicles with fish hanging from their front grilles - I guess to keep the fish fresh and the cars from becoming too wiffy.  I assume that when they get the fish home they just have to pressure wash the dust and oil off.

There is a shortcut from the road we were on that heads to Entebbe without the need to head into Kampala, and we had quizzed our hosts at Mihingo on where to turn off.  Beside a school said somebody, just after a big advertising hoarding said another.  As there are approximately 300 schools and so much advertising that even Saatchi and Saatchi would describe it as overkill, we unsurprisingly missed the short cut and hit Kampala just as the light started to fade.

This was not what we wanted.

I've already described the traffic in Kampala and our experience the second time was just as bad.  You need to keep your eyes peeled for cars, trucks, buses, bikes, motor bikes and I'm sure at one point a pony and trap; which come at you from all angles and appear to be heading to all points of the compass simultaneously.  If you hesitate the road in front of you fills with a mass of metal and diesel smoke, with cows, goats and children throwing themselves under your bonnet.  It is not stress free.  While you try to keep alert to the maelstrom around you it is imperative that you don't miss the one sign post that points to the airport.  This sign is about 3 inches high, stuck on top of a 12 foot post and is partly obscured by a satellite dish; the writing on the sign is grey on a grey background and it looks like the paint is being consumed by the pollution.

Luckily we spotted it and realised we were on the famous Kampala Southern Bypass.  Go and google the images for this - do not be fooled by the first few images, these have obviously been put up by the Kampala city council.

This is what it's actually like

Luckily we were not pressed for time, but we had aimed to reach the airport before dark fell, just so we weren't having to do the most dangerous of African activities.  But like a few of our best plans, this was doomed to failure and we turned down the Entebbe road just as the last of the suns rays disappeared.  We had recognised the mad roundabout from day 1 so at least we knew we were heading in the right direction - there may even have been another signpost!

As the traffic eased the danger increased - we picked up speed, but the vast majority of other vehicles on the road didn't use their lights.  Either they have blown all the bulbs and cannot replace them, or the local drivers have amazing owl like eyesight.  Black cars appeared out the darkness and thick smog at an alarming rate and we reverted to shouting and screaming as a way to keep ourselves amused.

The car following behind us (roughly 18 inches behind us) had lights he could use, because he would occasionally turn them on only to inexplicably turn them off again a couple of minutes later. At times we could only tell he was still following by the light of his cell phone which he was holding up in front of his eyes while presumably texting his friends.  

I have to say this was not a fun way to finish our time in Uganda, but as you can see from the very fact I'm writing this blog, we survived.