This past weekend we decided to break the Mbarara routine and head to Kampala for a football match and some July 4 celebrations. Besides booking a hotel room and making some tentative plans with friends, there wasn’t really much planning that went into this trip, so I’m pretty impressed with how successful it was.
Kampala is about 4 hours from Mbarara, so early Saturday morning we headed to the bus park in town. The bus and taxi parks are nuts. People everywhere are trying to sell you things and there are travel agents who will try to book your ticket for you and charge an extra fee, but we had been warned so we avoided these people and ignored the people shouting muzungu and shoving food and other things for sale into our faces and went straight for the bus. It was a pretty pleasant ride (I had a window seat) and we knew to ask for the Mengo stop when we got to Kampala where our hotel was very easy to find.
We dropped off our things and headed straight to Nakivubo Stadium, which is not where the Cranes normally play but apparently Nelson Mandela Stadium got booked by the NRM political party for some event, so football got bumped. Nakivubo is not as nice, but it is much more conveniently located and I navigated us there on foot despite there being no street signs in Kampala. I was pretty proud. Then I ate the best chapati of my life (I was pretty hungry) and we took our seats.
The game was really fun, and pretty exciting! Uganda played Tanzania, whom they had previously beaten in Tanzania 3-0. Saturday, they only tied, but I remembered how fun soccer is and wonder why Americans don’t like it more. After the game, we got to just walk straight on the field where we got interviewed by a radio station called “Super FM,” so I’m kind of famous. Because they won the earlier match against Tanzania, Uganda will advance in the Cup of African Nations qualifiers!
Other Kampala activities were a lot of walking, some shopping, and a good American dinner of a cheeseburger and fries to celebrate Independence Day. By 10 PM I was exhausted, because usually that’s my bedtime, and when we finally made it back to the hotel I crashed into bed and fell asleep to the sound of the muezzen at Gaddafi Mosque (because Gaddafi named the national mosque after himself).
Sunday morning we did a little more walking, I went to mass at the Kampala cathedral, and we experienced another crazy bus park before we made our way home to Mbarara. Next week we will be tourists again and visit Lake Bunyonyi, which is exciting because I miss Michigan and all of the lakes! Until then I’m trying to enjoy our last field days in Kashongi and Kitura as we finish up our project and start to wrap up all the loose ends.