Well I’m home from my East African tour now. It feels good to be back in Tala after fifteen days of absence, especially since I estimate I’ve sat on five or six buses for a total of around fifty hours in the last two weeks. I was happy to see that everything was still in order at the college when I returned. My students are supposed to come to school next Monday, but they always take their time so I don’t know when I will actually have to start teaching. It’s OK, this is Africa, everything is pole pole (slowly slowly)!
Our adventure started in Tanzania, where we visited the town of Arusha and then immediately hopped on a thirteen hour bus ride to the Lake Victoria port town of Mwanza. Tanzanians don’t speak very much English so I had to rely on my elementary Swahili. We had a good time exploring the town and especially seeing the ocean-like lake there. The lake is 26,000 square miles in total, so it’s really like looking at the Pacific Ocean from the beach in San Diego. I’ve never seen Lake Tahoe or that big one in Michigan, but I assume it must be a similar feeling as you’d get if you peered across those. Buses going from Mwanza to Rwanda were few and far between so we spent a few extra days killing time in Mwanza. The bus ride to Rwanda was terrible of course, as western Tanzania is a remote wasteland with ridiculous dirt roads. It’s also just really far away from everything!
The instant we crossed the border we were in awe of the cleanliness and green of the country. We were to continue being impressed as we drove the three hours from the border into the capital city of Kigali. Rwanda was clean, the people were honest, the city was organized. Just wow! We visited the genocide memorial where, among other multimedia, there are fourteen mass graves with over 260,000 bodies buried. Holy shit, right? Anyways, Rwanda was awesome, but expensive. We hopped on another bus and headed through the tea plantations of northern Rwanda to enter southern Uganda.
Again, as we crossed the border, we had another instant change of environment. Back to the Africa where a white man can’t get an honest price for a taxi! Anyways, Uganda was beautiful and green. We stopped at Lake Bunyonyi where Idi Amin, Uganda’s terrible dictator from the 1970s, had a house. We enjoyed some canoeing and relaxing, but there were way too many rich, white tourists for us to stay very long. I know, I know, I’m a rich white tourist too, but at least I don’t act like one! And you KNOW what I mean! After a ten hour bus ride we entered Kampala where Sureel’s cousin lives, so we had a nice house and home-cooked Indian food for about six days. Kampala was much bigger than Kigali, but also much more dirty and full of traffic. Compared to Nairobi it’s still small, but in a few years it will be much bigger as there is a lot of development going on there right now.
The bus ride from Kampala to Nairobi was another thirteen hours, passing through the Lake Victoria town of Kisumu, through the amazing Rift Valley in Nakuru and Naivasha. By the time we arrived we were very tired and it was late so we had to stay in Nairobi for the night. We finished our vacation in Nairobi by going to eat some more Indian food and I got a haircut in the rich part of town (where they actually got my hair wet before cutting it, unlike last time!).