The end of a 40-hour journey and the beginning of many more

Originally, my trip to Kampala was supposed to take 24 hours with short layovers in Chicago, Brussels, and Kigali, Rwanda. I guess they were too short. When the plane from Austin to Chicago (the leg of the trip I wasn’t worried about) had mechanical difficulties, my whole itinerary was in disarray. After spending two hours talking to ticketing agents and a travel agency, I switched airlines and booked a flight through Dallas to London to Entebbe.

Dallas/Fort Worth is my favorite airport on the planet because I’ve never had any problems there and it has amazing restaurants. After savoring one last Tex-Mex meal, I dutifully arrived at the gate two hours early so that I could be assigned a seat. Two hours later, I watched as every group boarded the airplane and I still didn’t have a seat.

Right before the agent closed the gate, she handed me a ticket that said “10B—International Business Class.” On a Boeing 777, the business class seats recline to 180 degrees, they give you Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and the flight attendants wait on your every need. After enjoying a gourmet meal, I slept peacefully for six glorious hours.

Reinvigorated, I decided to explore London for a nine-hour layover, which was the highlight of my journey. I took the train into the city and connected to the Tube, where I got off at Picadilly Circus and walked around as a tourist, stopping at Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Park, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye. Although London was undergoing major deconstruction in the aftermath of the Olympics, it was a gorgeous day and I had a good first impression of a city I had never been to.

In front of Buckingham Palace.

The flight to Entebbe was dismal compared to the idyllic voyage from Dallas to London, but things went smoothly. The Entebbe airport was much nicer than the one in Douala, Cameroon—it even had clean bathrooms!

Unfortunately, however, neither of my checked bags made it with me to Entebbe. They must have enjoyed London too much and decided to stay put. I hope to see them on the next flight from London on Friday, but until then, I am grateful that I packed everything irreplaceable in my carry-on bags. It will be frustrating if I have to buy all new clothes, a suit, and hiking equipment, but it’s doable. Finding new medicine, contact lenses, electronics, and a Boston Red Sox hat would be a lot more difficult.

Thirty-eight hours after I left my house in Texas, I cleared customs at Entebbe airport and met a driver from the U.S. embassy. I normally feel a rush of excitement when I get to a new place, but I felt tired, overwhelmed, and apprehensive. Worried about my luggage, I wondered what the guest house would be like and I feared for the worst. As the driver weaved us through accidents and rush-hour traffic, I considered that a car accident would be exactly what I need to top off my tumultuous voyage. Luckily, we didn’t hit anyone and I listened calmly as they played Faith Hill on the radio. Who knew they like country music in Uganda?

I was relieved when we arrived safely and I met Jakob, the owner of the house where I’m staying. He was extremely helpful and took me into the city to buy a cell phone and an Internet modem. The house has a kitchen, a living room, and a hot shower, and it’s safe and affordable. I am relieved to have found a good “home base” for the next few weeks and possibly for the rest of my stay. I achieved my goals for the day—finding shelter, a cell phone, food, and Internet (in that order)—and I am excited to visit Makerere University tomorrow to figure out what I’m doing for my project.



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5 responses to “The end of a 40-hour journey and the beginning of many more

  1. Larry Klosterboer

    Brian– That’s a pretty impressive post for a wearly traveler! Good sense of drama mixed with an excellent description of the ups and downs of international travel. As one who’s been there too often, I appreciate your ability stay composed and patient through a really long and tough day.

    • I found lonely plaent quite useful. Try getting a guide book Bradt guides are very useful and they do one for Uganda. A book will probably give you the best information and you can take it with you if they have no electricity they aren’t going to have internet access for a website! Find out about whether clean drinking water will be available if not you will need to boil or take iodine with you (which is horrible!) Have you traveled a lot before? If not you might get some stomach upset from new foods and different germs than your used to. If you are only going to be their for a short time, and aren’t planning much travel in the future its probably worth avoiding things like dairy products, any fruit you can’t peel, and possibly fish and shellfish. If your going to be there a while just eat what you want and get used to it, or your going to have a very limited diet.Take a pack of cards with you they take up little space and can provide hours of fun.Pack light if you are going to be travelling on buses and stuff you want to be able to carry your luggage.Learn how to say thank you, please, hello etc in the local language as soon as you get there people are far less likely to rip you off if you can say something in their language.Learn how to haggle.Take a lot of wet wipes with you, and also alcohol hand gel.Make sure to get all your vaccinations before you go. Also get your visa sorted out well in advance.I’m fairly sure Uganda has a risk of malaria, so take your anti-malarials properly, but most importantly don’t get bitten. Take it from someone who knows malaria is no fun!

  2. Anonymous

    Brian, I am happy you mentioned something positive about uganda. Enjoy your stay.

  3. Rodger

    so man, did you finally manage to get your luggage? something like this happened to me when i was traveling from Ethiopia, thankfully I was called when it arrived 2days later.

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