“Young Tak & old Frank”, Kampala, Jan 22nd, 2011

After the night in the Nairobi casino it was only my body that went to bed for 4 hours. My mind was still on the table (“why didn’t I bluff that one time………”) and so I was quiet tired this Friday morning, January 14th 2011. But oh well, its travel day anyway and this time a long one too as Omri wants to go all the way to Kampala in one run. The local “mandazi” (little dough triangles filled with meet, cheese or beans and fried) taste fantastic for breakfast, especially at a price of 10€ cents a piece. For the first hour of our Matatu ride to Eldoret Omri tells me about his family and especially grandfather history. 3 of 5 brothers, 2 of 3 sisters and both parents where killed during the Holocaust, a relatively wealthy family living in Czech Republic completely destroyed and displaced. The fact that Omri and I can talk about this while travelling together, partying together and the fact that he respects also the hard life of my grandfather (being a soldier from 1939 till 1947 in France and Russia) is such an achievement and I am thankful for it.

Back in Eldoret we have lunch and a bit of trouble finding the right bus company for the onward journey. The lovely waitress from the restaurant walks us through the scratchy parts of town and finally we get our ticket for the midnight bus to Kampala. Then I pick up my rucksack from Lukas and Susanne’s house. Wow, more than a week I travelled with only my small camera bag. It’s possible but not desirable. I missed my jeans, my lap top, my tripod and so on but the idea of taking a base and take short trips from there is attractive.

Dinner we have at a sports bar watching Leverkusen – Dortmund (1:3) live before joining the prostitutes on the street waiting for the bus. I was told that every single woman that you see here on the streets after dark is one and the fact that all I see is mini skirts, high heels and lots of skin supports this sad statement. With only 1 hours delay we take off reaching the Ugandan border at 3am. Crossing it is interesting, a bit thrilling but not too special either. The money changers are friendly, we actually use them and the visa we receive without any problems or bribe attempts.

At 9am Saturday morning we arrive in Kampala, have a little breakfast and take a boda boda (motor bike taxi) to the Backpackers hostel. Soon later we organise the rafting tour for the next day and walk to the “city gardens” chopping mall with some other back packers. I do notice that the local people are very friendly, that there is no hassle and that the city seems quiet modern but I am too tired to appreciate it and at 10pm I fall “unconscious” in the dormitory.

Regarding the rafting day of Sunday I let the pictures speak with only a couple of remarks. First, I made sure that I have the same position (front left) as when rafting the Chilco river in Canada in 1997 with the Marlboro Adventure team, now having the age most participants had back then. Second, I swim in the Nile, how cool is that? The evening we chill at the Nile shore, watching Premier league and talking to the other rafting tourists. Monday morning Omri and I split after a week together and I walk along the Nile towards its source near Jinja.

Back in Kampala my coughing is getting worse but I am at the right place to cure it. Good food, cheap beer (coke for me), a pool table, free internet and lots of cool travellers to meet are the ingredients for what I call the “black hole”. Just like in the universe it socks you in and does not spit you out again unless you use “force”. I bet that each and every one that comes here spends at least 2 more nights than originally planned. Some are here for weeks already, one guy since 7 months and another for years. I call them lost souls and they are. They came with adventures intentions (travelling, volunteering or doing business) then something goes wrong (e.g. having to wait a week for a visa) and bum, they enter the vicious cycle of partying and hanging around. Oh well, chilling is also my intention for a view days and my coughing is the perfect excuse. Somebody else also seems to feel a bit week. Omri arrived back here even before me – the black hole is strong…………..

Tuesday I don’t do much. Surfing the internet, playing pool and eating are my main to do’s. To avoid a bad conscience I visit the Gadhafi Mosque with Jonathan, another Israeli. It’s named after its Libyan sponsor, his reasoning is not questioned. Walking there and back I feel very week, deciding to stay in Kampala and rest as long as it takes. My highlight of the day is meeting “Wilfried”, a 64 year old German. His story basically is: 40 years running his own company, 40 years in love (she is the book keeper), 40 years separate travelling (she prefers Ibiza while he prefers trekking in Uganda) leading to 40 years of happiness and a good marriage, fantastic. I introduce him to the internet and he (we) write his first email – greetings to his wife. Great.

Wednesday I do not leave the hostel at all but I do shave, after more than 2 weeks. Thursday the coughing is still pretty bad but I feel better and visit the Ugandan National Museum with Jonathan. Its lovely but for being the National Museum a bit too run down I think. Friday we go to the local market. Jonathan and I try to do one meaningful activity a day, Omri has decided to party a bit more intense, so a part from playing pool we do not do much together these days. The evening I try cleaning my lap top from viruses, 218 it has detected.

Saturday, the 22nd of January, I just spent 4 days doing not much, a nice highlight is going to come. Initiated by Jonathan I organised a group of 5 people, sharing a car with driver to go outside of Kampala for a horse back ride. The staple is run by a British lady, looks very clean and professional, the horses are in great conditions and the mountain / jungle setting is perfect for a 2 hours adventure tour. Claiming to be “experienced” I get “Young Tak”, a 4 year old package of energy and willingness to use it.  So old Frank has to proof his riding expertise and to my own surprise I do. Even though I sweat like crazy, Young Tak follows my commands, we even go into canter and the instructors make my day saying “You are the first one able to control this horse”. The price I pay for this are 2 bleeding knees (on the inside from given contact to the horse) but hey, that was worth it. From the local food market the “horse group” plus 2 Swedish girls (also in their 30s) get fried fish and enjoy the warm Kampala evening at the Backpackers till 2am discussing African politics, singing, laughing and smoking things………………

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