Visas, vistas and variable bus timetables

Having to chill out until the Monday to go the to Rwandan embassy, I spent some R&R time writing emails, blog posts, assignments for my aeromed diploma and a job application for December – which was a bit surreal.

First stop Monday morning was to get a permit for the Gorillas in Bwindi national park, whilst I still had my passport on me. At $350 USD, they are one of the big ticket items I had budgeted for, an actually quite a bit less than I was expecting – Rwanda where I had looked charged $800, and Uganda is normally $500 outside of the low season of April and May.

Third time at the Rwandan embassy was brief. I needed a photocopy of my passport in addition to the forms, letters of invitation and passport photos I had brought. Time four, I needed to go and pay the $30 at a bank across town. Back for fifth round. Oh sorry, closed for an hour for lunch.  My plans to catch a bus that afternoon were fading fast. All stress was alleviated with a Ugandan classic – a Rolex. A chipatti – a savoury fried pancake containing omelette as well as the extra options of tomatoes, peppers, onion and spices.

Fifth round finally happened, and paperwork was sorted. I hope. Now just round 6 in 72 hours.

I couldn’t really leave town that day as was already late arvo and furthermore I needed Internet in the morning for a teleconference. So what was going to be 2 nights in Kampala was now 4. While waiting for the teleconference was pointless as the limitations of my connection meant I was only able to hear 2 words every 30s, but I did get my name ticked off the attendance list and with it, a percent to my grade for turning up. Probably not worth it though.

The Boda Boda across town is a different story with a 20kg pack, a daypack and camera bag and midday traffic. I got to the bus stop in time to catch the 2pm bus. 2 came, the busses engines were revved. I watched the bus stop store short circuit the area with a dodgy popcorn maker. 2:30 came. I watched some interesting electrical work on the popcorn maker. 3 came. Other popcorn venders came to lap up the new market. 3:30 came. I was full of popcorn. 4 came. Finally we were on the road. I was soon to find out on further journeys these times are estimated and all passengers wait on the bus to fill up.

The bus headed west, with stops being a case to load up on whatever the hawkers could get to you through the window: cooked grasshoppers, live chickens (which i spend the rest of the trip beside), cooker skewers of beef or chicken, plantain (savoury banana) or cassava.

The next morning, the view from my modest but tidy guest house was greatl. Fort Portal, the local city was set in green rolling hills, and on looking west towards the border with the Congo, was the cloud capped Rwenzori mountains with the fourth highest peak in Africa, and ‘mountains of the moon’. The trekking up into the higher peaks is supposed to be awesome, but I didn’t have the time or gear to take a couple of days to head into the higher peaks.

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One Response to Visas, vistas and variable bus timetables

  1. Elizabeth Wright says:


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