Thursday, May 27, 2010

And the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round…

I feel like I didn’t do the bus ride justice or explain it in enough detail, so I’m giving it its own post. Crazy and interesting things that happened, in list form for simplification purposes:

- As previously explained, we sat jam-packed with 8 people in a row made for six, including a 5 year old girl and a 1 year old baby. Thankfully Ugandan children are well behaved. If those had been American children, I would have jumped off the bus and walked the entire way. I just can’t imagine an American child sitting still and not complaining for 5+ hours on a hot, cramped bus.

- The woman sitting next to me, who was extremely nice and helpful, whipped out her breast no less than 15 times to feed her baby. It was shocking at first, but I quickly got used to it. What I found most strange was that she unabashedly did this while surround by two muzungus and many men. I think the lack of modesty is good; Americans are too uptight.

- I quickly overcame my personal space issues, which I think was good. Don’t people say that the best way to overcome your fears is to confront them directly? I wouldn’t call this a fear, but the concept is the same.

- The bus made a few stops at police checkpoints and to fill up gas. At each one, people would rush up to the windows hawking skewers of chicken, fried bananas, bottles of water, bags of oranges, even a whole chicken, head and feathers intact. The woman next to me almost bought it. Thank goodness she didn’t. I don’t know if I could have handled her kid and her dinner on my lap.

- About 10-15 minutes after the bus let Kampala, this man in a very nice suit and tie stood up, got everyone’s attention, and began selling things for the next 30 minutes He started with some cough drops or something like that, moved to deworming powder and toothpaste, and finished with I don’t know what because I stopped paying attention. It was funny though. I guess the bus provides a relatively captive audience, though I wonder what kind of arrangement the man had with the bus service. He must still have to pay for his seat; I don’t think they’d let him on otherwise.

- Our driver, Ram, had told us that he paid for our seats for us, but he neglected to give us the receipt. When the guy came to check the tickets, we obviously didn’t have one. After explaining to him multiple times what happened during the course of the ride, we finally ended up paying again (or for this first time since we’re not entirely sure Ram actually paid them). For a bit I was nervous that they were going to throw us and/or our luggage off the bus. Every time we stopped I checked out the window to make sure they didn’t remove our bags.

- The bathroom break consisted of the bus pulling to the side of the road and people going right there, men to one side of the bushes and women to the other, but all clearly in site of those on the bus or passing by. Again, lack of inhibition. Americans really should adopt this characteristic.

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