My arrival in Uganda was cause for joy after 3 days; of which 25 hours in the air. I arrived into the tiny airport in Entebbe, the old capital and a sister city of Kampala, the current capital of Ugandan. The sun was setting fast, and a light pink enveloped the atmosphere outside the terminal building
I exited the plane down metal stairs onto the tarmac and into a small building where the Ugandan customs where set up. I immediately felt the heavy heat of equatorial Africa, and at that moment knew my body was going to take some time to adjust.
I hurriedly filled out the entry customs form and hopped in line to get my passport stamped. I knew I needed to purchase a visitor visa, and it cost around $50 USD. I approached to customs official and waited as she wrote down my information, I noticed this because every other country I have ever been too has scanned my passport.
She finished up and asked for the fifty dollars. I asked if I could use my credit card ( this is laughable now after being there for 4 weeks as I have learned that absolutely nothing can be charged here). She informed me that I had to go to a nearby ATM and withdraw cash. She kept my passport, and I scurried into the terminal to locate the cash machine.
As I headed for the exit and the ATM, I passed the baggage claim. I thought I would grab my bag so that as soon as I got cash I could run out and meet Marcy, who at this point would have been waiting about 20 minutes. After standing watching the bulk of the bags come and go, I surmised that my bag wasn’t in Uganda with me. I took anther 30 minutes filling out a lost baggage claim. Thankfully I’m a pessimist and assumed that my bag would get lost and packed my carry- on accordingly, but I was concerned that my bag would be lost for good, and there were a few items in it that I really wanted in country with me.
So a solid hour after my plane landed, I rushed out into the waiting area, and stressed and preoccupied I finally saw Marcy. It wasn’t an ideal way to meet up after not seeing each other for a year and a half, but I was relieved that she was there, and it was great to see her.
I got the cash, ran back to the customs booth, and my heart sank as it was deserted! All I could think was that I was stuck here forever. Just at that moment the officer popped out from a little office and gave me my passport, but not before I paid more than I was supposed to. The customs official ripped me off (I found this out later in the car from Marcy).
I hopped in the car with Mar and a driver that Marcy and some of her PCV friends hire. We headed to 30k for Kampala, the capital city.
It was pitch dark except for car lights, and the occasional florescent light hung precariously on a storefront along the road. I could feel the heavy tropical air, and smell the familiar 3rd world smell of diesel fumes and burning plastic. It was dusty and the traffic was incredible. Marcy informed me that Kampala had gotten horrible for traffic as there is really only 3 ways into the city.
It took about an hour to get into the city and the motel that Marcy booked. We spent the rest of the night standing on the open air walkway of the hotel 4 stories up listening to the sounds of Kampala. The dust hung heavily over the streets and between the concrete high rise buildings. I should hear the pumping beat of a near by club, and the streets where packed with pedestrians. The city had an electricity to it that I have never felt anywhere before. I was excited, and nervous as hell to explore the next day.