Double “can’t believe it”, Kigali, Feb 11th, 2011

It is hard to leave the “black hole” called backpackers Kampala for good this Sunday, February 6th, but after 30 seconds on the boda boda (motorbike taxi) I feel free, almost like released out of prison. Angela and Sarah, the 2 crazy English girls, feel similar but are too tired to talk as they partied the last 48 hours. In Entebbe, at a very relaxed port, we entered the ferry to Ssese islands and the 14 instead of 10 Dollars for first class were well invested, space for the girls to sleep and electricity for me to use my lap top made the 4 hours go by like a second. Arriving at Kalangala was like paradise, the sun out, the people friendly, everything green and chilled. But as we all know, paradise does not really exist -- arriving at the “Hornbill” campsite taught us that lesson within 10minutes. Dirk, a German, owns this place since 17years. He is a very friendly person but a lost soul and the conditions of the huts tells that he has become African, not much left of “German quality”. Oh well, a nice walk through the village, a descent dinner and a fantastic beach view into the stars finish a day that got us on the road again. Great.

Monday became an amazing “TIA” day. After a 40minute walk in the heat (with luggange, respect to the girls) we reached what the locals call the town. It was a strip of dirt road with some houses and a movie like atmosphere. They all know each other, they all look at us, they and we know that we depend on them (we are on an island) and they could do and charge us whatever they want. Our only force is to behave cool, pretend to have time and lots of friends here and that we know the game. So we sit down, have a water and wait what happens. It works. Sarah organizes a car which will take us the ferry port at the other end of the island for a reasonably fair price. The 1 hour until it leaves we spend with the local kids. Of course it only leaves full and 14 people plus tons of luggage in a regular car is quiet close to a new record for. Two people in the drivers seat certainly is and continuing the journey with a torturing sound after 10 nuts must have come off after a big pot hole also sets new standards. However, we do reach the ferry, we do cross the lake and we do continue. But then, ha ha, Frank gets proven right. My comment that fixing the nuts would prevent later and bigger damage was widely ignored. Ok, fine for me. Bum, a cracking sound and the back axel brakes in the middle of nowhere. Like Michael Jackson I think “This is it”. Unlike for Michael Jackson, it is not. The passengers get out and this guy seriously drives the car, being on the phone at the same time, another 1,5km to a small collection of houses. Here, I can’t believe it, is somebody who has welding equipment. So I guess we will get another ride while our driver stays for a view days to fix his car. No, double I can not believe it, nobody, not even for a moment, considers not to continue the journey in this car. Instead we all get under a tree, relax for 3 hours while they weld the axel back together. Still in daylight we reach Masaka, find a cheap hotel to sleep, a expensive hotel to have a great dinner at and a super market to buy chocolate, shower gel and water. What else can I ask for, what a day.

Tuesday morning we try to get a bus to Kasese but it seems we have taken too long for breakfast. Angela, an optimist like me, tells me a nice phrase: “It will be good at the end. If its not good, its not the end.” I like that, 5 minutes later we sit on a motorbike to another bus park. 1 hour after that we stand in a bus. Another 2 hours later I get a seat on that bus next to an 65year old local. He tells me that he 40 years ago participated in a contest for the “Deutsche Welle” radio and won a trip to Germany and a little radio. As he was in the middle of exams for school he could not do the trip. I can see the sadness in his eyes when he says: “I missed that chance but I still have that Telefunken transmitter radio.” God, I almost started crying and hugging this cute old man. When telling him about the snow in Germany he asks me what we do with the cows when its so cold…………… . (in moment of being silly I would have answered that I buy the meat in the super market but that was not appropriate here) Around 5:30pm we reach Kasese, find again a good deal in a triple room and use the sunset for a visit of the Equator line. Its just a line, made by some scientist, but it is special crossing the equator.

Wednesday started with a real scenic breakfast in the lobby of our hotel. I hope my sepia foto tells everything. Otherwise it became a tough 12 hour travel day with 3 things to mention. First, crossing Queen Elizabeth national park, we see a family of elephants right next to the street. Wow. Second, while waiting for 1 hour in the back seat of a minibus filled with 22 people standing in the sun, I get my first ever panic attack (claustrophobic I guess). I can manage it by asking to get out to use the toilet (even though I just used it shortly before), taking a big breath there (which is not a nice thing in an African toilet) and trying to think of something else than what would happen if this minibus crashes. I manage well, get back to the same seat and have no issue for the rest of the ride. In fact I enjoy it a lot, listen to music and feel almost high. It’s a great learning for me to understand what the mind can do to you. The following should be a big story but for some reason it was not. At some point Angela looks at me with big eyes: “Did the other window just fell out?????????????” Yes I say and close my eyes again. At 100km/h, going through a pot hole, one of the 2 big side windows fell out, smashed in a million pieces onto the street. Nobody cared.

Third to mention is lake Bonyonyi and its overland camp site which we reached before dinner. Amazingly beautiful, a place where you go for vacation and that is what we did. Staying for 2 days we swim through the lake to an island, jumped of 7m platforms, did jet sky, played pool, had great food and a lot to laugh. Great time.

On Friday, February 11th, we changed our plans again and again it would extend the time together with Sarah and Angela. Instead of them going west within Uganda, we all go to Kigali, Rwanda for the weekend. A one hour taxi ride to the border and with no issues at all I enter my 10th country on my 100th day of this world trip. English switches to French, right hand driving switches to a mixture of left and right hand driving, 5 people on a bike switches to max 2 people with helmets and littering everywhere switches to the first country in the world that has banned plastic bags. Rwanda wants to become the “Singapore of Africa” by 2020. My first impression is that they are on good track. By late afternoon we come around one of the one thousands hills, see our first Skyline for months and reach Kigali. Then a great dinner while watching CNN about the Egypt revolution. Being tired we decide that Saturday must be enough to party and go to bed, Sarah and I dreaming about getting a Gorilla permit the next day. Will it remain a dream??????????…………………

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