The Juba Express

This past weekend, I hopped on a bus from Gulu to Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Let me explain a little about the bus system here. First, you catch a “boda boda” (motorcycle taxi) from the house, with your pack on your back and your boda boda driver holding the rest of your things. This is always slightly terrifying because it appears that he can barely see over the handlebars and might crash at any moment. Alas, we arrived at the gas station, Total, in one piece.

Total is where you catch the “Juba Express,” (sounds kind of Harry Potter-esque, ey?”) the bus that comes from Sudan. Usually, you have to sit around Total for a while, chatting with people and waiting for the bus, but today, there was a bus there! I got pushed through a crowd of people and shoved on the bus, thinking it was going to leave at any moment. Unfortunately, the rule on the Juba Express, and most other busses in Uganda, I think, is that they don’t leave until every single seat on the bus is paid for. So, I got on the bus at 1pm and we finally pulled out of Total at 3:30 pm. It ended up being a nice ride, beautiful scenery and crossing the Nile River (I still get excited and freakout on the bus every time, telling the person next to me, Wow! The NILE! They usually don’t seem to be as excited as me.) I had downloaded This American Life, TED and Radiolad podcasts, where I learned many things about many topics. (Did you know that while sitting in a movie theater, 1/3 of the people in there are blinking at the exact same time as you!?)

While on the bus ride, you stop every half-hour at the small trading centers to purchase goodies from people selling them on the side of the road. This includes, but is not limited to:

live chicken: $5 (which, after purchased, sit next to you on the bus on the consumers lap)

machomo (meat on a stick): $1

roasted maize: 10 cents

fanta: 40 cents

cooking lard: 40 cents

oranges: 10 cents

We finally arrived in Kampala.

As soon as you get off the bus, you are attacked by boda boda drivers. “Madam, where to?” “Madam, I take you on my very nice boda!” I choose quickly and jumped on one that looked fairly safe, and we started zipping through the city. I realized halfway through this ride that I was clinging to my driver’s shirt, yelping and terrified. “My friend, please, I would like to live until tomorrow. Please do not let us die today,” I was screaming. We finally made it to our destination, where I breathed a sign of relief and hopped off the back, paying him a little extra for sparing me my life.

After checking into the hotel, I walked to an amazing Indian restaurant, Nawab, to celebrate my viewing of Eat, Pray, Love! EXCITING!!! Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite writers and Eat, Pray, Love, one of my all-time favorite, soul-searching memoirs. I could talk about it for hours. In fact, maybe my next blog post will be on Eat, Pray, Love. (I have had to defend it a lot recently, to my skeptical guy friends in Gulu, so I have become well versed in my option of the book)

Unfortunately, I was not impressed by the movie. I should not have gone into it with such high expectations, but I do think it could have been done much better. It seemed to be lacking emotion and substance. And really, Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” while dancing on a rooftop at an Ashram in India?

Anyways, enough on that. I headed back to the hotel and prepared for my day ahead: Safari Adventure in Kenya!

Blog coming soon!