Our journey from Amsterdam started with a delay because of ice on the wings of our plane. Never experienced that before! Arriving in Entebbe was the opposite of course, although not as hot as it might have been. I guess that is because Entebbe is quite high above sea level.
A car journey through the mad Kampala traffic saw us finally at The Red Hot Chilli Hotel – a kind of youth hostel in effect, and a big bed to sleep off a very long and tiring day.
One of the noticeable features of life in the city is the high level of security everywhere – even our hotel wouldn’t let us in the gate until our driver had signed in. There are armed guards everywhere and a noticeable police presence.
Once on our way on Friday other impressions took over. Uganda is teeming with life – sellers of anything that can be carried – newspapers, soap, biscuits – ply their wares every time the car comes to a halt – a frequent event trying to leave Kampala.
The roadsides are lined with small art- deco styled buildings, or shacks, or hastily constructed wooded stalls, selling every conceivable type of goods. There were men welding metal objects next to sellers of fashion items or tyres or fruit and vegetables. One shop just sold blackboard chalk. Other vendors were cooking food and so the smells intermingled in a not unpleasant fashion, indicating the type of goods being sold.
Lots of carved wooden beds were piled in the roadside in many places, looking like miniature four-posters ( you need the uprights to keep mosquito netting in place)
The further we went from Kampala, the roadside goods took on a brief uniformity: suddenly everyone was selling metal gates, then further on it was piles of eucalyptus timber, which then changed to sweet potatoes, all stacked in inticingly neat pyramid piles. Small brick kilns produced piles of deep orange bricks, waiting for a purchaser, and there were other kilns producing charcoal which was stacked inside long plastic bags.
The traffic was always busy – lots of small motor bikes with helmet-less drivers weaving in and out, seemingly oblivious of the dangers posed by the numbers of Chinese construction vehicles thundering down the highways.