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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Kampala Drama

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

I was sadder than I thought I would be when it came time to say goodbye to the Nomad group. This had been my family for the past 12 days, and I wasn’t quite confident I was entirely ready to bid them adieu. We’d gone through so much together. Bugs, monkeys, Tik Tok, gorilla grabs, long days on the bus, loud speaker guides, no water… not to mention the scoldings we regularly received for not listening well enough. All of us were so vastly different, but our weirdness just seemed to mesh. Well, almost all of us meshed...

... those damn little voices...


It was undeniably early in the morning, and very dark, I might add, when I was dumped on the side of the highway, just outside of Jinga. My goodbye probably warranted more effort than it was given at 5:30am, but that's all we had.

I had opted to be abandoned and left to my own defences. The troop was heading to Kenya and I had chosen to remain in Uganda. The plan was to sit in some random roadside café, surf the net for a few hours (provided there was adequate WIFI) and find myself some sort of quasi-tolerable transportation back into Kampala. I was on my way to stay with Patience and the girls for a couple days.

Anyone who read about my recent adventures in Zanzibar, will remember Patience, Hannah and Samantha... from Simba Lodge. They had invited me to stay with them if I happened to find myself in Uganda.

The Nomad crew was leaving Uganda and preparing to cross over into Kenya that afternoon. I'd definitely had my fill of border crossings & VISA issues... and I just couldn't bear to stomach the anguish of that hell again so quickly. I planned to prolong the suffering of that chaos a few more days.

My early morning went according to plan... oddly enough... for me.

I made my quick goodbyes to the group, jumped off the bus and within moments, I was seated at a 24-hour café... WITH semi-acceptable, functioning WIFI!!!

.... dreams do come true... sometimes.

I had contacted a company called Pineapple Express, which marketed itself as a daily shuttle back & forth between Jinga and Kampala. I agreed to their higher-than-normal price, partly due to the fact that I really had no other option... and booked!

A man showed up in a white SUV, which was neither a taxi nor a shuttle. Just me & him... on our 2 hour journey to Kampala. He was kind enough, but had all the usual annoying questions about where my husband was, why I didn't have children and when I was going to settle down & finally get married. He was quite delighted to be able to name all of the Canadian Great Lakes... and I was equally as impressed to discover he could do so! It's not often that someone from Uganda can spew out that fun trivial info!

I had thought long and hard about the long I would remain with Patience. She had told me to stay as long as I wanted... but it was tough trying to settle on a definite amount. I definitely didn't want to waffle about... and I wanted my arrival and departure to be absolutely set in stone. Yes, it was an extremely generous gesture for her to invite a stranger into her home. I knew that.

BUT… I had my own reservations...

1. I had no idea what kind of accommodation she had. What should I prepare for?

2. I had to admit... I didn't really know her very well. NOT well at all.

3. Guests are like fish. After a few days, they start to smell. I didn't want to overstay my welcome.

There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable and being tied to some kind of verbal hospitality agreement.

For either party.

Regardless of the situation. I finally settled on a total of three nights. I figured that was enough. Turns out, I was almost right. Two nights probably would have sufficed... but what is adventure without a few lessons along the way? It actually turned out to be a brilliant first couple of days. The third was a little challenging... but one cannot expect perfection.

Hannah and Samantha were away at school until the weekend, so at the beginning, it was just the two of us. She had a beautiful 3-bedroom flat overlooking Lake Victoria, and she lived in quite a prestigious part of town. We drank a lot of wine, ate delicious pizza, strolled through town and gossiped about our time in Zanzibar. To sum it all up, we did have a LOT of fun.

For the first time in Africa, I was convinced, very temporarily, to get on the back of a boda boda.

A boda boda is a motorcycle taxi and the preferred mode of transport in East Africa.

I was hesitant to use this mode of transport for a variety of reasons. Actually... no. I take that back. I was terrified to use this mode of transportation. Research findings show that motorcycle riders face a higher risk of severe injury, morbidity and mortality than other road users. Ok... anyone that knows me, knows how disaster prone I am. I surely wouldn't last long, speeding along on the back of a crappy dirt bike.

Let alone a crappy dirt bike with 3 people on it... without helmets!

Everything screamed, "DANGER!"

I finally got on... against my will... in an attempt to suppress the whinings of someone who didn't want to walk any further. Fine. I think I might have felt slightly more confident, had I a helmet, but unfortunately that wasn't an option... at all. I begged the driver to go slow... which he did. In fact, he went so slow, and because I was sandwiched in between Patience and the driver, I managed to take a brief video.

It's on my Tik Tok account... you can watch it if you'd like. @mycrushontheworld

Follow me! 😆

I survived the ride and knew THAT was my boda boda 'one and done.'

I finally managed to get a much-needed manicure and pedicure. My nails were atrocious. They were broken, snaggled, dirty, cracked, brittle, bitten... and every other horrendous adjective imaginable thrown in. After two weeks of camping, trekking and living the bus lifestyle... my fingers and toes were in desperate need of a little tender loving care. Patience found a little place off the beaten path, and I sat down to let them do their magic.

It was desperately needed...

Well, this guy certainly took his sweet time. Patience kept insisting his sluggishness was merely a reflection of how good he really was at his job.

I disagreed.

He was just slow. Very slow.

When my nails were finally done... and after a bottle of wine had been polished off in the meantime, it came time for my toes. I'll admit, it wasn't exactly the best pedicure I've ever had. I didn’t get a leg rub… but I did almost die of electrocution, so that's a fair trade, in my opinion. They had placed my feet into a small electrically-powered basin, which not only heated the bath to an unbearably scorching temperature, but also was meant to massage and circulate the water. All of a sudden, out of the blue, something faultered with either the plug or the cord, and rapid sparks went soaring and the end of the cord burst into a blaze of flame.

My feet were OUT in a flash!

I don't think I've ever moved so quickly in my entire life as I did when the alarm of electrical current through water went off! The staff were so casual about it... like... people die from electrical shock every day.


No biggie.

It was the most unusual pedicure I'd ever had. As my feet soaked, he sliced up a lime... with a dull MACHETE... and squeezed the fruit juice into the water. I had to look up the benefits of lime juice on feet. It baffled me. This is what I found;

Tired Feet? After a long day on your feet, soak them in warm water containing lime juice and enjoy the cooling, astringent sensation. This will also help promote deep sleep due to the relaxing action on the foot nerves.

Interesting... hmmm....

Still disappointed about missing out on the feet & leg massage I've grown so accustomed to... but whatever. So a big thumbs down for the lime-flavoured machete pedi...

Much to my delight, the girls came back from boarding school on Thursday afternoon, so that I would be able to enjoy one full day with them. It was fabulous to see them again. They are just such cool kids and it was nice to be in their presence again. It was nice to see Patience too, but after a couple days, the drama began to take its toll.

Everything was always a battle.

Everything; Drama.

Drama. Drama. Drama.

And loudness. And yelling.

Patience is a partier. I love to drink wine... but I will admit it, I hate clubbing. Blame it on my age, but I don't think I've ever really been a fan of hitting the late night party scene. She knew this before I came over, as I opted out of every club opportunity in Zanzibar.

On my final day in Kampala, we had all ventured into the heart of the city centre to have some lunch and to also meet up with Flo, who had also been in Zanzibar also over Christmas. The place chosen for lunch didn't serve alcohol, so Patience kept insisting the two of us pop next door to her local pub for a glass of wine. I accompanied her the first time, but after that, I chose to remain seated with the girls. Afterall, I was here to see them too.

Ironically (in contrary to her name), Patience became vehemently upset about the food wait time, creating an atmosphere nothing short of awkward. She started plotting to get the children home, so that we - 0r more importantly, SHE - could drink all afternoon. Finally, it was decided they would go with me, as I wasn't keen on clubbing.

Ok... no problem.

I agreed.

To be fair, I was more comfortable heading home than staying in town until the wee hours of the morning. Afterall, I had a flight to catch the next day. Then she changed her mind and decided to accompany us all home... planning on returning to the city after freshening up. Cool. She called an Uber.

This is where things went completely sideways.

The Uber got caught in traffic and although he said he was in the vicinity, Patience lost her patience waiting for him. When his vehicle finally did surface, he became the victim of the mall parking lot gridlock and could barely move an inch. The tables turned... and the onus was suddenly on ME for not wanting to get on the back of a boda boda.


I held my ground. I was not getting on a boda boda. No. I wouldn't do it.

It had been funny for a photo opp and a cute Tik Tok skit the day prior... but that moment had passed and I was no longer in the frame of mind to relive it and put my life at risk... especially after a few glasses of wine and with two children strapped to me. Many scenerios bounced around my head; nullified insurance should something happen to me, the absence of a helmet, the annual death toll due to the boda boda... not to mention how absolutely terrified I was.

It was useless. There was no reasoning. As a guest, I hardly felt the need to stand there, defending my choice.

I remained quiet.

She then decided she would leave me in the taxi with her children... and she would jump on a boda boda home herself. She had become firm on not suffering through the time it might take to escape the traffic, nor should she have to, considering I was the one who wouldn't get on the back of a motorcycle.

In her own words, I was being 'stupid.'

It was beyond uncomfortable. I knew this outburst was a result of a little bit too much alcohol, but still, it was not a situation I would ever choose to reenact. I remained quiet... shrugging my shoulders to justify her decision. If that was her style of hospitality, then who was I to stand in her way? If she wanted to party... then by all means, go for it. If that was the fastest way to get home and get back into the city, go hard. She opted to remain in the taxi with us, though her impatience and exasperation shifted from me to the taxi driver.

Patience argued with him the entire time.

The ENTIRE time.

~ How long he'd taken to get to us.

~ Why he'd pulled into the mall parking lot.

~ Why he was turning left.

~ Why he was turning right.

~ Why he was taking the expressway.

It did NOT stop.

She kept insisting that because he was such a horrible Uber driver, we wouldn’t be home for two hours or more. He remained surprisingly calm through most of the turbulence, but I could tell that his blood was starting to boil. He tried to appease her by promising to have her home within 45 minutes, but she wouldn’t hear of it. He even went as far as to say that if he got us home within 45 minutes, she could add more to his tip. Nope. Her rage continued.

She just woudn't give up... heaving insults, spitting poison and insisting she knew more about the Kampala road system than he did. She berated every single turn he made.

Once on the expressway, we really started to really make traction and this seemed to pacify Patience.

Until we hit the toll booth....

... then the driver turned to me and asked if I would cover the cost.

Game on... again...

This time, she was furious.

I think there was actually smoke billowing out of her ears, though I wouldn't dare to turn around and check. I was completely at the end of my rope with the entire journey.

It was awful.

I ended up handing over the toll money... which worked out to the enormous total of $1.84 in Canadian currency. My thought in doing so, was a keen desire to stop the fighting,

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Patience did not give up at all. Now she was focused on how corrupt he was and the abuse skyrocketed. I finally yelled out, "Please stop or I'm going to cry."

It worked.

She stopped.

Not for long though... but we all got temporary reprieve.

Finally we reached home, which, funny enough, was within the promised 45 minutes.

Patience got out of the vehicle immediately, said goodbye to the girls and promptly disappeared. I assumed she was going to go back to the city to drink with her friends, but I really didn't know. Nothing was mentioned.

To be honest, I enjoyed the respite.

It was a much deserved temporary suspension of turbulence.

I tipped our driver more to apologize for her poor behaviour.

Patience didn't end up going back into the city. She went to her convenience shop and... I suspect... had more to drink. It was quite the surprise for all of us when she walked through the front door and back into the flat. Almost immediately, and very much to my dismay, she proceeded to reenact the entire Uber episode. Without giving herself even a brief moment to breathe, she just dove into her own rendition of how stupid the driver was, what a scammer he was, how crooked he was, how he wouldn't listen to her at all and how he was only taking advantage of me.

I disagreed... BUT... as before, there was no reasoning...

I didn't care.

I didn't care at all.

Not one bit, anymore.

Instead of providing my own interpretation of the road trip, I requested to have the situation put behind us and asked, on numerous occasions, if we could just forget it all happened and move on to something more serene... and uplifting. She did continue to try and regurgitate the entire situation, but I continued to turn my attention away.

Despite enduring the hour long argument in the Uber, her blatant disrespect for the peace of all those around her, and her undeniably appalling behaviour, the true thing that upset me was her blatant disregard for me. I wasn’t comfortable getting on the back on a motorcycle… and instead of respecting that, she ridiculed me, yelled at me about it, called me stupid... and threatened to leave me behind.

Oh well…

Live and learn.

Other than that, it was a wonderful time in Kampala.

Would I go back? Ask me at a later date...

Besides that glitch in the system of travel, everything had been wonderul and I will be eternally grateful for their hospitality!

One of her friends came and drove me to the airport the next morning. He was actually a really nice guy. Patience sat in the back, drinking wine the whole time.

Tip of the day; Two nights with a stranger ONLY!

Take it from me...

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