Arriving in Kampala

The flight from Addis Ababa passed uneventfully and we soon found ourselves descending into Entebbe Airport – yes, for those of you old enough to remember, the same Entebbe made famous in Raid on a Entebbe (although that airport is across the road a ways and is no longer used).

We deplaned onto the tarmac and entered into a small, fairly dated airport but an efficient one. We quickly joined one of two “Health” lanes (the other was reserved for special visitors – the UN, etc) where our Yellow Fever vaccinations were confirmed and from there we made our way to immigration. We were quickly met by a young immigration official who saw that we were a group and asked us to come with her to a closed wicket that she promptly opened for us. If you have travelled much, you may know how infrequently this happens… immigration officials the world over never opens additional wickets…

Rose quickly processed our East African Tourist visas, collected our $700 US (ouch… but good for travel throughout Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) and sent us off to collect our bags… which were just emerging onto the carousel… all of them… two airlines, 12,500 kilometres and three planes later. Kudos to Air Canada and Ethiopian Airlines. Ethiopian, in particular, runs a pretty decent airline. Food is good and plentiful. Their planes are well maintained. Staff are courteous and friendly and they get you – and your bags – where you want to go with a minimum of fuss and bother. I’d fly them again without hesitation… and would choose them over a number of other airlines we’ve flown over the years.

After collecting our bags we made our way to the only really inefficient part of the airport – customs – where a couple of lines converge on a single scanner but even that moved quickly and we were soon heading out into the fresh air to meet Craig and Patrick. They were definitely fresher and more energetic than we were… we made our way to our waiting van, loaded up and piled in for the trip from Entebbe to Kampala – a 1 to 2 hour drive depending on traffic…

The beginning of the trip took us past the UN air base (largest in Africa) and through reasonably crowded streets while Patrick and Craig passed along comments about things we were seeing. Eventually we made our way into Kampala and we were quickly overwhelmed by the traffic and the sights and sounds of the bustling city. Patrick navigated the van through streets broad and narrow (mostly narrow) with aplomb… and there was a highway (only just opened this week) built with Chinese backing that was positively deserted. We passed a wedding or two, were passed by a couple of wedding convoys and saw everything from motorbikes loaded with sugar cane to goats… lots and lots of goats… and boda-bodas (motorcycles). They are everywhere. Zipping in and out of traffic, crossing lanes, weaving and dodging like mad…

Like the rest of our crew, I eventually succumbed to the heat and sway of the van and dozed off… apparently for quite some time as it apparently took us two hours to get to our destination for the night Red Chilli Hideaway – a sort of hostel/resort with shared bathrooms and hostel style rooms. We all piled out of the van and kind of made our way into the lobby in a 38 hours of travel induced daze… none more so than Marie who stumbled out of the front seat of the van sending my iPhone (which she is using as her camera for this trip) tumbling off her lap, onto the ground and between the slats of the sewer grate… thankfully it was very shallow and empty of any really mucky stuff… and we’re especially thankful that Nick’s hands were small enough to fit between the grates to retrieve because that sucker was securely bolted in place. Marie and I continue to discuss her camera privileges…

After finding our rooms and making plans to reconvene in the restaurant in about 90 minutes we all retired to our rooms and promptly sacked out… then it was up to the restaurant for dinner. Which took quite some time to arrive. Long enough that most of our students ended up falling asleep at the table. Dinner was worth the wait…

After dinner it was off to bed… at 7:30… although the guys stayed up to watch World Cup… in all a successful start to our time in Uganda

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