Do you know that feeling of itchy feet?
There are two “pathogens” I don’t know a cure for….. the travel bug and the Africa virus, except for packing up and hitting the road, of course ;0).
Sometimes a brilliant movie like The Queen of Katwe filmed authentically in the very location helps ease my wanderlust and brings me back to being grateful for all the moments and memories I have already collected in all kind of corners on this beautiful Planet Earth. So I dove into these memories by watching the true story of a girl growing up in Katwe, which is an area of Kampala or Kla (pronounced Kala) as the capital of Uganda is also known among locals.
Have you been to Kampala?
Arriving somewhere around midnight at Entebbe International Airport, my hubby and I were warmly welcomed by our beloved friends Sunday and Celestine, who we met for the first time that night. Getting to the hotel meant that Sunday had to drive us for about two hours through the city in the very early morning of what was to be a public holiday Monday.
It was nighttime, obviously, and this meant almost pitch-black as there was not much light in Kampala. No street lights, no illuminated billboards, no office skyscrapers where people work through the night and weekends (phew!), no well-lit shop windows.
But little lightbulbs were glowing in almost regular intervals and now and then there was a small fire people used to prepare food with.
The atmosphere, however, was anything but sleepy. People were in the streets. Everyone, it seemed, was up, partying, laughing, chatting away, and dancing along the roads and in the streets. African beats and loud music coming from every corner. We saw smiling faces almost everywhere. It was a public holiday night, after all, and people in Uganda make the most of it. Good on them!
What a great way to start an adventure in Uganda I am sure I will tell you more about in future posts.
Arriving into the joyful atmosphere I enjoyed through the car’s windows and the fact that it seemed as if the four of us knew each other since ages left me feeling completely snug.
Is this similar to something you have experienced? You arrive somewhere new and you feel kind of at home immediately?
Cars, bodabodas (motorcycle taxis), matatus (minibuses), pedestrians, cyclists, and tradespeople normally all share the roads. While this often looks and also is chaotic, especially during rush hour and in the many roundabouts you find in Kampala, the city emanates a calmness I don’t ever notice in busy areas of Swiss cities, where everything seems so organised and traffic lights make for a smooth getting ahead. This really stuck with me.
Watch the hustle and bustle:
What is so convenient in Kampala and its outskirts is that you can buy almost everything along the roads and from street sellers, which are illegally doing so as we learnt, but it happens all the same mainly while the light fades during sunset. They would offer you salted peanut snacks, fresh bananas, newspapers, souvenirs, toilet paper, pens – pretty much everything you might need really – right to your car window. Of course, our two guardian friends told us not to open the window too much, keep valuables far away from it and the doors always locked as it might invite thieves otherwise. Keep that in mind and you are safe.
Kampala is a vibrant, colourful and green city close to the Equator. So it is leafy almost everywhere and this backyard I saw from the hotel’s patio caught my eye because of the pattern of the gateway that is being built, the arrangement of the stones, and the green surroundings I think. It lies right beside the road you saw in the first picture further up.
So these were just some impressions from Kampala. I took most of them out of the driving car and hope to have more opportunities to catch the essence next time, which is hopefully soon.
We left the city after that trip at the same time we arrived, at night.
Flying out of Entebbe International Airport with a heavy heart I was once again amazed by what I saw. Used to quite some light pollution in Europe and having those famous pictures of the world at night in my mind, Kampala and Uganda treated me with a new and unforgettable experience.
Imagine a clear wonderful night sky somewhere in the mountains, in a desert or in a place without artificial light. All you see is a dark blueish blackish canvas with all the stars sparkling your way. Just that now you don’t look into the sky but down on a metropolis.
Those little lightbulbs scattered over the landscape in Kampala were twinkling like a starry night sky. It was magical.
Webale muno, Kla.