Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 11 - Hoima to Kampala

Day 11 - Hoima to Kampala (...to Amsterdam, to Detroit, to Kansas City)

I thought I was getting sick last night when I woke up sweating with stomach cramps. Turned out to be nothing - I guess.  Because when I woke up at 7 I felt okay.  Took a luke-warm shower, scrubbed everything, and finally took a pass at my rats nest hair.  Besides being crazy tangled, it actually wasn't as bad I was expecting. 

I went to grab some breakfast at the hotel at 8am. More of the same (hard boiled egg, wheat-a-bix...)  Moses came when I was finishing at 8:15, but I went back to the room to finish getting ready and packing everything up.

Joshua showed up at 9 with a huuuuuge heavy box of cards for me to take home to Unlock Hope - the company that makes tshirts to feed the girls at hostel. How in the world am I going to get those home?!

Ugh.  Such a pain.  I mean I knew they were coming, and I left some room in my big suitcase for them, but not near enough.  (Remember that shopping problem I have when I'm traveling?)  Joshua and I tried and tried and that box was not fitting anywhere.  So we opened it up and just started dumping the cards in every pocket that would fit.  A good chunk of them even went in my backpack and a few in my purse.  They.  Were. Everywhere.  And heavy!  BUT - I got them all in! 

Moses and I eft Hoima around 9:30...and it was still raining. In fact, it hadn't completely stopped all night. I was so glad we came to Hoima when we did (last night). I really don't think we would have made it this morning with all this rain.  I mean it was bad enough last night! 

The drive was uneventful.  Slow going with speedbumps in every little village, cows on the side of (or in) the road, kids running, women carrying water jugs... You know, the usual Uganda.  I slept on and off.  We eventually stopped at roadside fruit stand. Moses wanted to get  bananas and tomatoes and yams. He said fruits and vegetables are DOUBLE the price in Kampala!

Shortly after that stop, I had to pee. I much prefer just squatting behind a tree somewhere in the open, but we were too close to villages and there were people all over, so Moses stopped at a building and pointed me to a shack out back.  It. Smelled. Awful. I mean I had my shirt over my nose and mouth and was still gagging me -- as I tried to squat over the whole while balancing on my tip toes. No success at keeping the pant legs dry.  They were wet -- with urine/feces/I don't want to know what else.  So, yea, I got to sit in feces soaked pants the rest of the drive. So gross. That's the problem with pants. Always wear skirts here!  

Along the drive, I asked Moses if we could turn on some music.  He had been listening to some talk radio in another language, but he got out a cd and put it in for me.  And of course it was a  Christian cd and I knew almost all the songs! It was so nice to hear -- I've been going through withdrawal from my KLove radio that I listen to all day at work.

Once we went through the whole CD, we had reached the edge of Kampala, which meant windows up.  The pollution is just awful here.  He turned on the radio and Tiesto's "Red Lights" song came on.  It's so weird to me when I hear songs I know in another country.  I don't know why - of course they listen to the same stuff we do - but it always trikes me as odd...

Anyways, our first stop was at the Life in Africa center to meet with Peter, the director there.  I met with him on my last trip and loaded up on bags and pot holders and aprons and beaded jewelry...and anything else the women made there.  But this time, his shop was virtually empty!  No bags anyways, which is always a favorite to bring home.  I settled for some beaded jewelry - bracelets and neckalces - and hopped back in the car with Moses.  I was pretty excited to see what they had been working on since my last visit, but apparently everything they've been making has been so popular it's sold right away!  That's a good problem to have I suppose -- unless you're me and you want to buy them and can't. ;)

Next up:  visiting Emma Kavuma.  I didn't get to meet him on my last trip, but I've admired his art work for years.  Beth has several pieces from him and I've been wanting to buy an original.

Emma is such a cool guy.  A little "out there" maybe - just kinda crazy - and his art work shows that.  Which I love, of course. 

He walked me all through his three floor studio, where every inch of wall space was covered with his  amazing, original pieces.  

I was split between elephants and zebras...

But in the end, the zebras won out.

Now to find a spot for THAT giant thing...

After a stop for some water and to take out cash to pay Emma, Moses took me to the new Red Chilli (new since I've been there) and dropped me off.  

The space was great - nicer than the last spot, but I missed the monkeys that used to hang around!
I ordered some fish and chips, and set up a movie on my iPad.

As the sun was setting, another drive picked me up to begin the journey through the nightmarish streets of Kampala to get me to the airport in Entebbe.  

I knew this drive could potentially take hours, so we left plenty early.  And I was right - it took hours.  To go like 40 miles or something ridiculous.  There's just no way to get through the city and there is only one road to the airport.  I am going to blame at least some of that time on my driver though.  I have a pretty good sense of direction and he was weaving and bobbing in all sort of alley ways and side streets and doing circles.  I KNOW we went the complete wrong direction on multiple occasions, so I pulled out my phone, turned on the data, and pulled up a map to show him the best way.  Yeah - take THAT taxi cab driver.  The American with the iPhone will show you the fastest way. :)

At the airport, I got stopped by not one, not two, but THREE security check points.  At the first one, they made me get out of the car and walk across a border.  And the military guys had guns hanging over their chests.  Maybe that should make me feel more safe, but it definitely didn't.  I remembered having to do that last time, but still, it never feels normal when a guy comes up to you with a gun on and orders you out of the car.

At the second check point...my bags were overweight.  I did some serious moving and shuffling around of items before I got them close to the appropriate weight.  The lady felt so bad for me the fourth time I drug the bags over and up on that scale that she just let me go.  It was close - just barely over, and I really couldn't do anything else about it!

At the third check, I cheated.  I've done this before.  I balanced part of my bag on my foot - the bad foot with the big boot on - to take off some of the weight so it made it just barely under the tipping point.  Success.  Got the bags on with no extra fees!

I had under an hour to kill by the time I actually made it through all of that and to the gate, so I grabbed some food - which consisted of a fried something, a plate of fruit, a Twix, and a roll of crackers.  Yikes.  A diet is definitely going to be in order when I get home...

We boarded the plane on time, and took off for Amsterdam.  I lucked out and didn't have anyone in the middle seat next to me, so I definitely spread out and slept the entire way.

I had a tight connection in Amsterdam, and there definitely wasn't any running happening in my boot.  Even with my quickest race walk and two security check points, I made it to the plane as it was boarding.  And when I got to the gate to scan my boarding pass, they told me they had GIVEN MY SEAT AWAY because they didn't think I was going to make the connection.  

Ooohhhh helllllll no.  You did not.  First of all, why would you book me on the flight knowing that connection was damn near impossible?  FAIL, Delta Airlines.  But you know what?  Even when your ridiculous planning, I DID make the flight.  I'm here, so is the plane.  The doors are open, and guess what.  I'm getting on.  Like, now.  So give me a seat.  Okay?

That's how it played out.  And after some slightly elevated voices and a discussion about my bags not making the connection either, they gave me a seat.  Not the seat I had, which was a window, but they gave me the only seat they had left.  A middle seat in the middle section.  The worst of the worst if you ask me.  Delta will be hearing about this, but whatever, I got on the plane, and still managed to sleep a little on the flight to Detroit.

And would you care to guess what happened in Detroit??  The.  Exact. Same Thing.  

Let me back up.  I was told (in Amsterdam) to still check the carousel in Detroit to see if my bags made the connection in Amsterdam.  I knew they wouldn't.  Heck, I almost didn't!  But I still wasted precious minutes standing there checking.  I gave up after 10 minutes or so of bags coming down, and took off.  Another security check - with a crazy long line, of course.  Oh, and no TSA pre-check lane...so THAT took forever.  Then it was more race walking to the furthest possible gate from where I was to catch my flight from Detroit to KC.  And when I got there, the gate was empty.  BUT, the door was still open.  Completely out of breath, I managed to tell her my name and ask if I could still make it.  And her response shocked and floored me all over again.  "Oh we already re-booked you on a later flight this afternoon.  We didn't think you would make that connection."  

WTF Delta.  Seriously.  WHY would you book those flights if it was barely feasible for any seasoned traveler to make them?  Ugh.  So frustrated, but they let me on.  Last one on and they shut the aircraft doors immediately behind me.  Whoo....

I'm pretty sure I passed out for that last flight, too.  I was closing in on 20 hours of travel time.  That takes a toll.  But as always, any amount of travel (well, almost any amount) is worth it for the cool experiences and adventures of another successful trip!

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