After over 24 hours travelling and a lengthy delay at Dubai airport, it was past 10pm when our somewhat travel-worn team of 5 (4 Optometrists and 1 Dispensing Optician) arrived at Entebbe Airport, meaning that our first glimpses of Uganda were unfortunately in the dark. We were to spend our first night staying in Kampala which is around 1 hour’s travel from Entebbe.
Despite the late hour, the streets were absolutely teeming with nightlife and we had to endure gridlock as we travelled through the city in the Ugandan taxi (more like minibuses we have over here) we had at our disposal for the fortnight. Taxis abounded, and the streets were crowded with bodabodas (motorbike taxis) and motorbikes. I don’t think we ever saw a motorbike with just one person riding it. Generally 3 or more were clinging on! A typical sight in Uganda was an entire family perched on the back of a motorbike – Dad driving, Mum sitting side-saddle on the back, usually with a babe in arms, and 1 or 2 children clinging onto the back!
Despite it being near midnight as we headed down the side streets to our guest house the place was still alive with activity – small kiosks were still open and selling wares and people were cooking maize and what looked like chapattis on barbeques at the roadside.
I hadn’t been entirely sure what to expect of the accommodation, and was pleasantly surprised to find a small yet clean room with mosquito net provided, and an en suite bathroom with a Western toilet (phew!) and shower (suspended close enough to the toilet that you had no option but to dowse it completely whilst showering, an oddity which turned out to be a common arrangement in Uganda!).
We woke the next morning at ungodly o’clock to a thunderous downpour. After wading through inches of water to our taxi, and our skilful driver successfully negotiating the Niagara Falls that the pot-holey street had become, we were on our way for our first day in Africa!