We're off to Gulu! My research was approved by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) much faster than I thought. I paid my fee, so now I just have to wait 10 business days to pick up my official letter, and I’ll have my research clearance!
Since there wasn’t that much left for us to do in Kampala, Eden and I decided to head north to Gulu where both of our NGOs were located. We sadly said goodbye to our GLA and other Kampala friends and boarded the Friday midday bus for Gulu. The 6 hour cross-country trip was only 20,000 schillings (6 USD)! Our bus even featured a TV showing African music videos and then, when that supply was exhausted, terrible 90s films.
The Kisenye bus terminal in Kampala was crazy! As soon as we pulled up, our taxi was swarmed with Ugandans offering to help us with our luggage and direct us to our bus (all for a fee of course). We kept saying “No, no, no.” and held onto our luggage dearly. Thankfully, Juliet (our Ugandan friend) was with us and led the way to our bus. She helped us load all of our huge suitcases into the bottom of the bus and lock them up. We arrived quite early, so we paid for our tickets and waited on the stifling bus while hawkers streamed on offering us water, fruit, soda, and other snacks. The bus filled up to capacity (they squish those seats together tightly), and we pulled out—the breeze through the windows felt so good!
The scenery through our 6 hour journey was beautiful and varied! Outside Kampala there was open green fields and trees broken up by one street towns. As we traveled further, the strips of buildings grew shorter. Then we passed forests of pine trees neatly planted in straight rows. Next, the green fields returned interspersed with circles of huts and roadside open air markets.
The bus stopped a couple of times for petrol and restroom breaks and momentarily pulled to the side of the road several times for passengers to buy food through the windows from the sellers below. Some held wire baskets full of drinks on high sticks to reach the windows while others offered bananas or meat on a stick.
The road from Kampala to Gulu is all paved, so vehicles can go quite fast. Our bus was moving extremely fast and passing all the other vehicles it could. We finally pulled into the Gulu bus station, and the CVI driver, Jacob, picked me up in one of their white Toyota pickup trucks. We hefted in my two humungous suitcases and set off for the CVI center in Lukodi 40 minutes away.
The dirt road from Gulu to Lukodi has grown worse since I was here 2.5 years ago. The rains forge ever deepening potholes and ditches across the length of the road. Memories rushed back as we passed familiar landmarks, and when we pulled into the CVI center, I was glad to see the rings of huts, grove of mango trees, the girls’ smiling faces, and all the adorable children. It was good to be back.