Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I am never travelling by bus again!

Unless there is such a reason as national security at play or the welfare of some five year old girl who will not travel by any other means. Indeed nothing short of a directive from Thandie Newton (with sugar on top) will induce me to climb on board a bus that runs within the borders of this sweet dark country of ours. By the way I had electricity last night. After becoming accustomed to life with out electric power I was somewhat at a loss as to what to make of blazing bulbs, a humming fridge, booming stereo and flickering television, so I gorged on it all. Stayed up till all hours making up for all the hours of mandatory television watching that I have gone without in the last few weeks. Now I know why TV is bad for all, nothing good can come of something that supremely mind numbing.

Without a doubt bus No. 49 of the Horizon bus company that departed Kisoro on Monday Feb 6 for Kampala is the filthiest scummiest most down at heel bus that I have had the misfortune of being a passenger in. Me I’m kind of a romantic at heart, I like to do things the old fashioned way like travel the country by ferry and train and bus (the ones without DVD players) and cross rivers in dug out canoes and traipse our rolling countryside on foot. I have thus far done the footsie thingy - everywhere, ferry – across Lake Victoria to Kalangala and the dug out canoe – across Lake Bunyonyi to one of the islands in the middle. Obviously there are no passenger trains in UG so I haven’t been there. But I digress, I was telling y’all about this bus from Kisoro.

Upcountry the bus will come to your house for you, as long as its like 4:30 in the morning. This big bus rolls up and hoots enough to wake the dead! … hehehe , I just thought about that, Aunt Berna is one of those now … well anyway, myself and a bunch of my cousins’ friends from Uni lug our over packed rucksacks and carryalls and assorted travelling gear down to the bus, mumble the greetings that we learnt last night to the bus people and clamber on board. I’m making too much of a beeline for the corner back seat at this point to notice that there is something dodgy about this bus and guess what I discover it soon enough. Soon as I sit down to be exact.

This bus is dirty. At 4:30 in the morning this bus is covered with dirt like white on rice. I’m talking the kind that has been ground into the seat fabric to the point that the wine red cloth material covering the seats has shades in varying degrees of brown, from the rust coloured light brown present in the middle of the seat to the dark greenish hue present on the headrest and at the edges of the seat. I can just see all the people who used this seat before me wiping their roast meat oil stained fingers off on the edges of the seat.

I really wanted to seat in the corner with full control over the window – rickety piece of hard clear plastic that it was – so I weighed my options; I could look for another seat or shut up and bear a 12 hour drive in this contraption. So I swallowed hard, shut up and sat down, promptly discovering that a significant piece of the seat assembly in front of me was jutting backwards into my space.

The rest of the journey passed in a self inflicted blur of bamboo forests, rolling green hills, roadside towns, townships, hamlets, shacks, excuses for buildings, bombed out buildings from 1979, roadside vendors, swamps, savannah grassland, the equator, the Ndejje University sign post and … sigh … my personal favourite, the swamp just before the Busega roundabout, the gateway to Kampala. The next time I hear anyone complain about the rickety taxis to Campus and Kisaasi, I will shudder involuntarily as I recall that it could be so much worse.

And there was this guy I really do not want to remember, seated two rows up from me, who took his shirt off when we got to Mbarara, exposing the most extensively toe curling, skin crawling, gut wrenching case of ringworm all over his back that I have ever seen in all of my life and that of my mum as well. As I speak, my therapist says I can now take the gloves and plastic bubblegum wrap off, the anti-fungal deluge of medicine I have quaffed these past two weeks has surely boosted my immunity to levels so high my children will not even break their skin if they were to say, fall down in the course of play.

Dear Lord! That was nasty! To think that maybe, just maybe he or someone like him had oh I don’t know, sat where I was now seating was enough to give me ramrod posture for the remainder of the journey. The only part of me that stayed in contact with that bus was my fully clothed backside down to the still fully clothed back of my knees. The next time I feel an urge to pack more clothes than I need for a weekend trip out of town and jump on a bus, I won’t. I’ll drive.


Blogger ish said...

u know that part, about the dude with the ringworm? gave me goosebumps...

Thu Feb 23, 03:10:00 am  
Blogger Carlo said...

oh the beauty of sitting in air-conditioned buses with little blue curtains from school to res! KOKONYA!! if you don't know what that means, my number's 072 something something.

Sat Feb 25, 03:45:00 pm  

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