We planned to leave Kampala at 9 AM and spend some of the day in Jinja, but with the baggage situation we didn’t leave until about noon. We met our driver, Issa, and he was very nice. It is a 4 plus hour drive to Mbale and we needed to be there by 5:30 PM. So, not much time left to spend in Jinja. The drive was extremely interesting. The traffic in Kampala was extremely heavy and it took us some time to get into the suburbs of the city. Now, when I say suburbs they weren’t what any person I know would consider suburbs. They were mud buildings with some store fronts and lots of people mulling around. We even saw a cow in the middle of the street at one point.
We saw some amazing sights, including a Bota Bota (a motorcycle that transports people and things) with a box of chickens attached on the back. That was amazing but I didn’t have my camera out. I wish I could have gotten that picture!
We did stop in Jinja to see the Bujagali Falls, but they recently built a dam below the falls and the falls are now a lake. Progress sometimes destroys the most beautiful natural environments. Deb had some pictures of the falls from a few years ago and they looked amazing, but not any more L
We stopped for lunch at The Jinja Nile Resort, which is a high-end resort, but the restaurant was only serving a buffet of local foods, not something that Ilise or the kids would eat. We ended up stopping at a grocery store and getting some basics and then stopped along the highway for grilled chicken and beef on a stick. Noah and I ate the chicken and I had the beef. They were actually really tasty. Noah loved the chicken and I am sure he will try it again.
We continued our journey and arrived in Mbale, which is the town where the Abayudaya Jews have they community. I had heard about this community through my involvement with U-TOUCH, but since hearing about them I have run into many people that have told me about them. Once we got into Mbale the roads were getting a bit less comfortable, lots of potholes. Little did I know that we were just beginning the portion of our journey on the real roads of Uganda. To say that they are not paved is an understatement. We must have driven for 3-4 miles on a road that no car in the US would dare go on without 4-wheel drive, but these guys do it everyday.
It turns out that after speaking with Sampson, Issa’s boss and our driver to Gulu, that our drive from Mbale to Gulu on Sunday will take us on roads like that for over 100 KM, OUCH! That is going to be a long drive.