June 11th: the promised land

11:27 PM

As I lay in bed and write, it is unreal to me  that this morning I was in Kampala. The hustle and bustle of Kampala is incredibly different than the humble streets of Gulu. 

We left the red chili in the morning and headed to the post office where our bus for Gulu departed. Our private hire ended up driving in circles and overcharging us, and despite the bartering techniques that we learned, we were unsuccessful (the downfall of being white girls, among many). We met up with Lindsay and Jenelle, but Boni who was supposed to meet us there was nowhere to be found. 7 am hit and we were forced to get on the bus. As we were pulling away, I see Boni running up to the bus. Immediately, Anna ran to the front to warn the conductor and just like in the movies, Boni runs on the bus in the nick of time.  

My trip thus far has consisted of a string of bus rides but this one took the cake as  being the strangest. Sitting in the back of the bus, every bump catapulted me out of my seat. On all of our bus rides, we have stopped multiple times to allow vendors to sell us things through our seat window. Usually they sell things like fresh corn on the cob, water bottles and lamb sticks. This time there was a vendor that came to the window with live chickens. Holding the chicken by their feet, I thought that certainly they wouldn't sell it to bus passengers. I was wrong. The man in front of me bought a nice plump chicken and set it directly under his seat to roam around the bus as it pleased. Of course, it didn't go too far but it did like to make some sneak appearances to our feet. I have nothing against chickens but I would prefer a nicer passenger that didn't want to peck my toes. 

The bus ride was beautiful, as all of them had been, but this one was comforting because every mile we went was a mile farther from Kampala and a mile closer to Gulu. On the way, we saw baboons and waterfalls and an assortment of bright flowers and birds. 

We reached Gulu and we were taken in by Drew, an American who has been living in Uganda this past year studying at Gulu University. Drew is the best resource I have here, he says y'all but knows everything there is to know about Ugandan history and culture. He took us to a great cafe called Sankofa where we ate dinner. Afterwards we headed into town to buy some fresh mangos and ended the night laughing, eating mangos and dodging cockroaches. 

I've been learning Luo (Acholi language) and I think the most important phrase so far is this: ayella pe, it means no worries. I'm saying it over and over until it becomes my mantra. We need it with all these close calls. Thinking of close calls, I ended up leaving my carry on bag at the bottom of the bus to Gulu. Drew jumped on a boda in an effort to catch the bus before it left but unfortunately the bus was already on it's way to Kitgum. So my bag is practically in Sudan right now, let's pray it comes back to me safely. But hey, it's just stuff. Ayella pe.

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