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Shakira Coming To Heidi’s Rescue

GrandEscapades-Uganda-104My safari from Rwanda to Uganda started promising. Leaving Ruhengeri / Rwanda like a Swiss clock, the “Matatu” whizzed me the 25 kilometers to the Ugandan border. A German biker traded his Ugandan shillings for my Euros. I crossed into Uganda on foot and hopped on a “Boda Boda” (motorbike taxi) to Kisaro. Easy enough!

At the Horizon Bus station (a wooden shack), the young lad on duty pointed at a purple bus that was being washed and announced its departure: 03:00 pm for Kabale. With four hours to go, the absence of the usual crowd of passengers did not worry me too much: only a tiny voice inside my guts told me this was fishy. But, hey, I had been in the country for exactly 30 minutes and figured – maybe Uganda is different to other African countries. A long stroll through this scruffy town and an extensive curry lunch helped killing time. The squeaky clean bus was waiting every time I dropped by the “office”, but still no passengers.

Finally, Shakira, a young lady observing my restless wandering, broke the bad news. The guy had simply lied to me. The bus was leaving at 07:30 pm, maybe. Panic! I was supposed to meet Gilles at Kabale’s bus station around 06:00 pm. Shakira was determined to get me to Kabale in time! Successfully, she argued for my fare to be returned and was already looking out for a so-called “special taxi”, a regular car that carries up to 9 passengers in its five seats…

Waiting around for hours on end had dampened my mood considerably. The drizzle that set in did not help either. Unshaken, Shakira, in high heels, kept searching the muddy streets for a ride to Kabale. It did not look good, but suddenly a car pulled up, people spilled out and together with eight others I piled in and off we went. What it feels to be squashed like this? My hips bones really hurt, but above all I worried about getting sick. I don’t do well on the windy mountain roads in the back seat.

I had chosen this route to Kabale via Kisaro because of its scenic road. Whenever I could peek through the many bodies around me, I saw fog. At Kabale’s bus station I felt like an orphaned child, nobody to meet me. I stood out like a sore thumb, a white woman all by herself with nowhere to go. Eventually a taxi pulled up, Gilles had sent it to pick me up. I was so relieved, eager to say something friendly. The only thing I could think off was praising him for spotting me so promptly. With a big grin, the unavoidable was said – “that was not difficult”! I could have bitten my tongue…

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