We reach Kampala and the street is absolutely freaking gorgeous. I try and think of where the Mash Poa offices are in Nairobi and the street they’re on, and promptly compare. It doesn’t compare. The streets are super clean and look like they just got washed by the type of conscientious housekeeper I will never be. The sky and air is dewy (also newly washed) and it feels like a beautiful woman waking up in your bed – the ones you don’t have to take swimming for your first date because they look like that first thing in the morning, and she languidly yawns and looks at you, smiles, and reaches for you like you’re the best thing since Unliminet.
The city reached for me. A woman walks by perching on heels that she shouldn’t be wearing so early in the morning but she chose her struggle and this is the price. Polite bodaboda people try and get us to board their motorbikes, and we keep walking, listening to their broken Kiswahili interspersed with lilting Kiganda which I admire from a distance but will probably never learn, much like yoga and mosaic assembly. All the bodaboda guys have nice shoes. Like, official, I am going to work and/or am a trendy metro-sexual chap, shoes. I love it. I am loving every minute of it, despite the fact that I have slept for maybe 5 hours tops – and haven’t peed.
The lady at the Mpesa – which you can use in Kampala directly from your Safaricom line – leaves us at the (uncaged) booth when she is going to get change. I feel trusted and not in Kenya. We get into a hired matatu to get to our destination, which is supposedly 5 minutes away.
But as we drive, I fall in love even more with this hilly city. You can see for miles around. I feel home when I see a Nakumatt, and a Bata, regardless of their shit shoes (and the two pairs of ngomas in my bag). Fuel is 3450 – which is 115 bob, about – but a jav to far reaching places is 30 bob.
We change money and finally get to the hotel. One has tiny rooms, so we go see the other one – which promises Wi-Fi, and DSTV.
None of which it has.
I feel myself slowly start to wilt inside. I curl up on the bed and sleep. (Remember what I said about things going wrong?)
When I get up, breakfast is served and people want to go exploring. So off we go, intrepid travellers etc. We catch a glimpse of Mandela National Stadium, then see a jackfruit vendor hawking fruit covered in fat, buzzing bluebottles.
We go see anyway.
This food is called fenesi, or fenee (*sp?) by the locals – it is a fruit that tastes like a cross between banana and pineapple. In the interest of exploring and being a foodie and drilling into people that you can’t really visit a place if you haven’t had the food and what kind of foodie are you if you haven’t and I won’t diarrhoea because I went to a Kenyan boarding school – I ignore the tumescent flies and take a piece of Dalle Abraham’s purchase.
Wasn’t half bad.
Not doing it again.
Then the Kenyans find a bar. In true form, we sample the local beers. They serve them in a plastic bucket that seems much harder that a simple tray, as the DJ makes an effort to entertain us (and succeeds – SOUL! YES!).
I sample the local water. We make noise.
We go find somewhere to eat. It’s called ‘I feel like Chicken Tonight’. I feel like chicken, not matoke, and break a few rules of foodiedom. I want to break one of the attendees jaws when he says that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. This is why we as a HUMAN RACE cannot prosper.
We go back to the bar.
Then, I try and buy a SIM card.
First I can’t find one. Then I find one. Then it is the huge ones that can’t fit into smart phones. Then I can’t find someone to cut it. Then I have to register it. Then I discover that Ugandans aren’t super down with the being kind to strangers thing. Then I go back to the bar. (and later, cut the SIM with a pair of scissors. Yup.)
Upon arrival, people are snacking on grasshoppers.
I don’t heave!
In fact – after being told to conquer my fear by Ras Mengesha and other shit that doesn’t really work, except for close your eyes and pop it in (it was looking at me) I eat TWO.
And taste like samosas (with an unpleasant aftertaste about 5 minutes after. Maybe that’s the children. Or the thorax wasn’t fully fried. Or…)
Still no heaving.
I see a live grasshopper and switch seats with Moses Kilolo.
We eat matoke for dinner and come back to the hotel – I use this word loosely – to find that there is no hot water except for one shower in the entire hotel, permanently.
I resist the urge to wail/sleep, and shower with cold water, pretending I’m in form 1.
The moral of the story is I ATE TWO GRASSHOPPERS AND DIDN’T DIE, I’m still a legit foodie, and also I’m not doing these bus driving no hot shower struggle trips no more. Just like the woman in the heels, I choose flight plans and Wi-Fi. Say no to regression.
The festival starts tomorrow.