A lot has happened since my last post. My seven days in Nairobi were all about getting money, eating food and booking a flight home. I spent the entire time scouring websites and travel agencies to find a cheap flight home. From Africa, I was considering anything under $1,000 cheap.
Trouble is it’s high season in Africa and Europe. When I asked travel agents for a price most looked at me like I was crazy and said “you know it’s high season, right?” Many told me to check the web instead and a few suggested I not go at all. In the end I was torn between flying to London on Kenya Airways or Qater. I figured that it might be worth paying an extra $100 to stop in Qatar for a day or two. But, on the last day, when I was making my final decision the Qatar agent told me I’d have to arrange a hotel through them. I walked out.
I paid, in cash, for my $500-ish one-way flight from Nairobi to London on Kenya Aiways on Monday afternoon. That’s a student fare, folks. I was quoted the fare at $490 but when paying in shillings she figured the price at $1 to 69 shillings when the banks are all charging 66 shillings. That adds up. I’ll stay in London for a few days (I haven’t been back in about seven years) and then fly on American direct to Chicago. My flight lands around 3pm which should land me back home before rush hour on the I90 is in full swing.
My transit visa was ending so on Tuesday I took a direct bus from Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda. I paid extra for the luxory bus with wide seats because many people told me the regular bus often breaks down and takes 20 hours. This bus had three less seats than the seating chart listed which meant I had no seat. I made a fuss and they finally gave me a single seat, which is what I had booked. We were even served breakfast—two pieces of fried bread, a small sausage and passion fruit juice.
The ride was completely uneventful and I surprised myslef by not reading my novel or listening to my novel for the entire 15 hours. I have become a master at passing time. The nun sitting across from me was overly concerned about where I was going and when we got off the bus at 10pm she took me aside to arrange a taxi. I just stood back and let things happen and in the end a Korean missionary from my bus took pity on me and gave me a ride with his Kenyan missionary friend. It took us an hour to find the place and I felt bad for inconviencing them.
My first full day in Uganda I rode a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) into town with another American girl who’s traveling alone. We were both hunting for spare gorilla permits but didn’t come up with anything. At the moment permits for Uganda are $375, ut they raise to $500 July 1st. Rwanda has already raised it’s fees to $500.
We had a nice lunch at a Western mall and then saw Oceans 13, which just came out here this week. We walked around lookgin for internet and shopping a bit before landing at an Irish pub for the night. She had met a drummer a few nights before and we sat and listened to a Uganda band play mostly American music in an Irish pub. It was probably the least “Ugandan” day I could possibly have.
There are a lot of activitie here including white water rafting on the Nile, gorilla and chimptracking and a few chill-out lakeside spots. I have some plans in the works and will let you all in on what’s going on as soon as I’m back in internet range.
One of the more significant things that has happened to me recently is my iBook screen dying. It’s been a slow death but the Apple dealer in Nairobi proclaimed it “too expensive to fix.” I left it in a locker in Nairoi. What that means for you is that there will be no map, budget, sketchbook, souvenir or gallery updates until I get home in August. I’m as sad about it as you, believe me. My iBook has been my best friend on this trip and I already miss it.