Pilgrimage to Kampala

The reason for the radio silence is that I and 3 others went to Kampala whilst south Sudan celebrated it’s second anniversary. This was a birthday trip for one of my VSO chums and so there were bubbles and americanos and ice cream and quiet mornings on the roof of our hostel. The trip took 16 hours. At 5am on the Friday morning I heard we’d been offered a lift and so, to the sound of thumping R’n’b we journeyed down through South Sudan, over the border and along horribly bumpy roads in Uganda until we hit tarmac. Through the day and then as the sun set we cruised along passing school after school with children streaming out. Each school had a different, beautifully bright uniform: mauve pink, canary yellow, apple green. We saw baboons and monkeys playing by the roadside and all in all it was a surprisingly restful trip.

Being somewhere cool was delightful – I even wore a sweater one night. There was electricity! There was hot water! We went to the cinema! All of these reduced us to childlike excitement and made me realise just how far Juba still is from ‘civilisation’.

Shopping did feature since we found two shopping malls as well as extensive markets. The markets were a brilliant experience where I was literally pulled in different directions by sellers flaunting their wares. I’ve done my fair share of market bartering but on this trip I discovered I’m much too soft- one of my VSO colleagues is incredible at driving home a hard bargain whilst I melt as soon as someone bats their deep brown eyelashes at me…

There were of course adventurous moments which are best passed over in blogging public but all to say we made it back on the overnight bus in one piece… And my proudest purchases were a couple of jars of pesto. Simple pleasures.

Someone had told me to bring gifts for work colleagues and because we share the compound with 3 NGOs this meant I needed a LOT of sweets and two days later I’m still handing them out with people looking very disgruntled if I have them less than three each!

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