11.07.2009 - 12.07.2009 34 °C
I actually kind of feel guilty about how little of Uganda I have seen. I don't really know why, but I just kind of worked out that way. For a while, I seem to have developed a kind of traveling apathy, probably brought on by my constant need to return to certain establishments, and so preventing freedom of thought and hope. I think that has only just been worked out of my system by the Western fringes of East Africa. And yet there is so much of note to see here. And now I have no time left to see it. Lake Bunyoni, for example, is somewhere I really wanted to see, and I was barely 8km from it when I was in Kabale, yet i didn't realise that until too late in the day to make a trip really feasible.
And now, coming back from Rwanda I am due back at a wonderful Nairobi institution (yes, sarcasm) in only a couple of days so don't have time to stop off there. But I did manage to stop in Jinja. It was as much to break up the journey from Kigali to Nairobi as anything else, I spent a night there. It also slightly helped offset the fact that I had to pay 50usd for another Ugandan visa and didn't want to essentially spend that just to sit on a bus bouncing across the country.
Jinja's main claim to fame is as the source of the Nile (although even that is disputed: Whilst Jinja certainly has a source of the Nile, and the most impressive one in terms of scale, Burundi claims a source further south, and Rwanda claims the longest and so true source), but to backpackers it is home to some of the best white water rafting in the world. And after arriving late at night and having a boda-boda rider try and con me mercilessly, the following morning i watched with amusement as vast hordes of mostly very young looking, excited and hungover white people headed off to drown, before leaving me with a hostel pretty much to myself.
Above, me at the source of the Nile, although i couldn't tell you why i seem to look so unhappy. Below, what many backpackers take to be the true source of the Nile...
Jinja is actually a very pleasant if slightly odd town. Granted it was a Sunday so many things were shut, but it was one of the few places I have been where there has been no hassle at all (well, if you ignore boda-boda riders) - nobody tries to sell you things, and there are no beggars around. Astonishingly, this was even the case in the small area of tourist shops and curio sellers, who apart from the occasional 'hello' ignored all the daft mzungu's who were looking around. Being allowed to browse curio shops without hassle and strong selling is so strange and such a novelty in East and Southern Africa, that it is pretty much outside of my comprehension.
Looking downstream from the source of the Nile. The really impressive – and kind of unexpected thing – is that this is taken 200m from the source of the worlds longest river, and look at how flippin wide it already is!
The town is built on a kind of small peninsula between the end of the River Nile and Lake Victoria, so you are surrounded by water, and I ambled happily along the long wide residential roads, dotted with spacious if generally sadly dilapidated looking colonial style houses, and it was all very pleasant. I wandered down to the Lake, went and overlooked the source of the Nile and even found a little cafe with a great book swap. And even came across one of our 3stalkers from Southern Africa, Leslie (the boys were off doing energetic sounding things on Mt. Kenya), for the first time since Lusaka, and w happily caught up (since we had last crossed paths, amongst much else they had played on a swanky Zimbabwean golf course, been in a bad auto accident whilst hitching in Mozambique and had a bag stolen on a Malawian ferry).
Though wishing i had more time to explore the outskirts, including some apparently beautiful waterfalls only a few km out of town, I was quite happy with a lazy day of walking, and more than happy that i had decided to split my journey there. There was was an element of sadness, and pretty much all it has done is reinforce my thinking that I have not done Uganda justice, and thus must return.
I haven't put up any signs for a few posts no, so i figured it was about time I did. The first one is, obviously, right next to the police station (Tway, and other grammar Nazi's note that a far as I am aware, George W. Bush's war on terror did not extend to spelling terror), whilst the shop below was selling cleaning products, and whilst I'm sure Jesus was a believer in hygiene, I don't think he mentioned Domestos during many of his most famous speeches