At the end of the last installment, K and I had, by dint of persuasion and gratitude, procured an important certificate from Kampala Interpol. By this time it was close to 6:00 PM and we were mindful that everything we did was going to be on Kampala’s schedule, not ours.
Our next stop was a gas station to tank up the car and fill the additional gas and water cans (this will be important later). It was decided that I would take the first turn at paying for gas. Because we were going to be exiting Uganda pretty soon, I had converted very little of my cash to Ugandan shillings. Much to my disappointment, but not much to my surprise, there was no “pay at the pump” functionality anywhere in Kampala.
So it was that after we had filled the gas tank and extra gas cans, it was up to me to exchange approximately $3 billion US for Ugandan shillings. One of the gas station attendants offered to escort me over to a bank. After what seemed like an eternal walk across a parking lot we got to the bank just as it was closing.
When I think about the experience now, I can’t remember why, but for some reason, it took even longer to walk over to another bank, even though it was visible from the gas station. My escort was eager to make conversation, mostly about golf, but I have the introvert’s problem which is that even though I really do want to learn about the people and places I visit, and even though I do want to be friendly, I run out of conversational steam quickly, especially when neither of us is fluent in the other’s native language. Maybe that’s why the walk to the bank seemed so long.
But, finally, we paid for the gas and, even lighter of wallet, we turned our attention to acquiring the supplies we had been unable to bring from home; drinking water, mosquito nets, rudimentary foods, and a generous supply of vodka and tonic (you know, for the driver). This set of errands was accompanied by some anxiety as we had been warned that we might not find what we needed and that you can blow a whole day trying to find cornflakes, or any other item, if that’s exactly the item you need.
Fortunately the water, food and vodka practically jumped off the shelves at us in the first store we visited. What that store had in easily attainable booze it lacked in affordable mosquito nets, however, so it was on to another, relatively huge and well-stocked, store for the nets. Interestingly this was also the only place where I saw Westerners during our days in Kampala.
The next morning, despite my insistence that I take the time to eat the congee rice bowl I had paid for with my room, we exited Kampala at about 8:00 A.M.
K drove us out of Kampala. We slanted down to the western side of Lake Victoria. First stop, the Equator:
After our photo session at the Equator we made for our first border crossing. Stay tuned to learn the ins and outs of moving from one Eastern African country to another.
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