Due to the pressures and psychological inconveniences that Kampala holds, sometimes it is imperative to get the hell out. I betook my weary spirit to Ntoroko district in Western Uganda. The gwa is far. You pass Fort Portal, take the escarpment leading to Bundibugyo, branch off at Karugutu and drive for two more hours with the reward of viewing the Semliki wildlife on the way-kobe, warthogs and earth’s other lovely creatures.
Something about nature does good to one’s soul, innit?
For one week I avoided the internet, work and most importantly-people. Alas, the time came for me to leave and that is when I learned that when it comes to public transport, Ugandans need to start slapping themselves into development instead of waiting for the president to promise it (over and over and over again).
I learned the earliest taxi would leave at 5.00 am sharp and made the appointment. 5.00 am found me sitting outside my cottage with my luggage admiring the blanket of the sky. After 20 minutes, hypothermia was imminent so I went back to bed. The driver called to say he was late because the taxi was not yet full.
When the taxi eventually came, really, I doubted his sanity. It was packed. I was unhappily squeezed into the last front seat (that ugly one where the conductor sits) and we set off. After a few more minutes we stopped again.
“We just have to add some more passengers”, explained conductor.
“Where?”, I asked curiously. “You’ve got five people seating in each row and me squashed here like a cabbage. Where do you intend to put these people?”
There were four men we had to find space for. After a long and public discussion by all of us about how they would fit (I kept shouting ‘Wait for another taxi!’), one man seated next to me said, “I know what to do! Let the girl sit on my lap and we can squeeze six people in a row instead of five”.
Come the fuck again? I looked around the taxi to identify the ‘girl’ who was going to sit on the man’s lap. Everyone else looked at me encouragingly.
Kiss my arse.
“No”, I said.
The passengers begged and wheedled and I didn’t even try to be polite.
“I’m not sitting on anyone’s lap! I’ve been waiting since 5.00 am for this shit? NO!”.
“Fine”, said conductor. “You get out and we’ll see where to put you later”.
I offered to sit on the roof of the taxi because at least I’d be alone. You can see how my standards were falling quite rapidly.
In the end, I was put in the front seat with the driver and two other passengers. I was made to place my legs on either side of the gear shift and off we went. I gave up on the sanctity of my body as every time the driver changed gears, my thigh or vagina was lightly caressed. I tried everything. Sitting straighter, leaning to the left and daydreaming. Still my private parts were having a hard time of it.
When we reached Karugutu, which branches off to Fort Portal, flesh and blood could bear it no longer. I clambered out of that taxi to the insults of the passengers.
“You think you’re too good to travel normally. You think you’re a muzungu! Yada yada yada”.
I took a boda the rest of the long way to Fort Portal which would have been pleasant if it were sunny. The rift valley is a gorgeous sight but it was early morning, it was freezing and I didn’t give a fuck about the hills being alive with the sound of music.