On the Road to Jinja Uganda

[ 0 ] January 17, 2012 |

On the heels of Lillian and Giovanni, we followed closely as they led us through the maze of mini-bus taxis and make shift buses at the Kampala taxi park.  As we made our way through the labyrinth of vehicles we noticed some commotion at one of the intersections and saw a group of young men standing in the middle of the road blocking all the taxis from leaving the taxi park and holding up signs saying “NO LIGHT = NO WORK, we will no longer live in darkness!”  Their protest was obviously in response to the crazy amount of load shedding and power shortages that were going on recently.  Thinking nothing of it we forged on as we followed our local guides.

We were led to a 24-passenger bus headed for Jinja.  We hopped on and since there was no where to store our backpacks other than on our laps we opted to purchase two extra seats at an extra $4 a piece (not to bad for the two hour journey).  As we sat in our bus waiting for departure an entire mini-market sprang up around our bus as vendors where selling everything imaginable to the bus passengers through the bus windows.  From hand-chargeable flashlights and handkerchiefs to newspapers, sodas, and snacks, it was a full on onslaught of salesmanship for the 10 min or so pre-departure.  I bought a local newspaper for the bus ride, a few drinks and some “Gonja”.  No not that kind of “gonja”, Gonja is the Ugandan name for fried banana chips – and very tasty I might add.  With a bit of a delay we were finally off as the bus wiggled its way through the maze of mini-bus taxis and onto Jinja Road, the main thoroughfare through the heart of Kampala.

A couple of minutes later as we were just making our way into downtown Kampala, the passengers on the bus promptly started shutting their windows and coving their faces with the handkerchiefs they had purchased at the taxi park.  No idea what was going on, Al and I sat (window opened) taking in the scene unfolding around us.  Not a minute later, Al looked at me and said, “My eyes are burning, are yours?”  Little did we know we had just driving through a sea of tear gas!  Rubbing our eyes veraciously we slammed our window shut as we looked out in amazement at the crowds of people running down the street away from the plumes of white smoke hanging above the city streets.  Al and I looked at each other in amazement – “did we really just get teargased?”  Moreover, “why did no one on the bus tell us to shut our window?”  Crazy!

We found out a few days later that, with the growing power outages, the scenes of protests followed by anti-riot police and teargas, their favorite weapon of choice, was somewhat commonplace as of late in Kampala.  As we sped through the streets of Kampala toward Jinja and away from the teargas and mayhem that was behind us in downtown Kampala, we thought to ourselves – over the last several months we’ve been in Greece and Egypt during the peak of their unrest and we get teargased in Uganda of all places. With the irony of the situation behind us and the burning sensation in our eyes dissipating we made our way down Jinja Road, passing by trucks filled with sugar cane, the occasional tea plantation, chicken on a stick vendors (amazing BTW), and finally found ourselves street side in downtown Jinja, Uganda.

Leaving Kampala

Leaving Kampala

City Streets of Kampala

City Streets of Kampala

Street Food Markets in Kampala

Street Side Woodworkers

Tea Plantation


Trust Me Trucker

Truck Full of Sugar Cane

Ugandan Boarding School

Chicken on a Stick - Amazing!

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Category: Blog, Destinations, Pat's Blog, Uganda

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