Kampala, like much of Africa, doesn’t have a decent network of storm drains – which means that when it rains (and it rains a lot in the rainy season) the streets turn into small muddy rivers and everyone dives for cover under shop fronts. I, however, have shoes and an umbrella so can walk about with impunity.
As I came to Uganda to chill out and do some city stuff, I headed out to an Irish bar with some other backpackers. Normally I wouldn’t do this, as travelling halfway across Africa to go somewhere I could go at home seems a bit strange, but I figured being sociable might be good life experience. The place was full of wazungu, there being a USh5000 cover charge to keep out locals (or, at least, poor locals), and what seemed like half a division of the US Army. Overall, the experience made visiting local dives a whole lot more attractive.
Over the following few days, I made a whistle-stop tour of Kampala and its surroundings, seeing the Kasubi Tombs (a very, very big thatched hut where Bugandan kings are interred), the Entebbe botanical gardens (essentially a park), a wildlife centre (containing animals rescued from poachers) and the Baha’i House of Worship (which looked suspiciously like the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield or Green College in Oxford). I also got kicked out of the television room at my hostel for having the audacity to watch Samurai Jack when the football was on (I got there first, but there is apparently an unwritten rule that football trumps everything else).
Acting on the advice of both my guidebook and previous visitors to Kampala, I headed down to the National Theatre for a jam session at the Musician’s Club 1989. While the local performers were excellent, when it came to my turn to play most of the equipment (including, crucially, the pickups) packed up and I couldn’t hear anything. Oddly, it started working again when the next lot of people came on.
The following day, I was invited to go rafting with some very friendly Canadians (friendliness is possibly a national pastime over there). And so it was that we piled into a white water raft and shot some grade five rapids on the Victoria Nile, flipping three times (which seems to be the average) but hitting all the big water including Itanda (The Bad Place). At the hostel near Jinja, there was an enormous toad hiding behind my backpack and we spent most of the evening watching both video footage of our exploits and a huge storm lighting up the sky across the river.
Today I’m in Mbale (at the foot of Mount Elgon), and will see Sipi Falls tomorrow before heading out to the Kenyan border and Eldoret. I have less than three weeks remaining in Africa, and plan on making them good ones.