Thursday the 9th of March saw me taking a long awaited, much needed and craved for road trip out of this dusty and hectic city. The plan was to spend one night in Mbarara town then travel down Lake Bunyoyi, Kabale on Friday. I’d done the Bunyonyi road trip once before with a bunch of friends and it was boat loads of fun, so I was really looking forward to doing it again.I was going with Sam who was supposed to pick me up at 9am and we’d be on our way, It rained so hard the night before and well into the morning, no one was coming between me and my blanket. After an errand upon getting up and a coffee run, we set off, better late than never.
Sam took it upon himself to warn me in advance, his intentions of bombarding me with little tidbits of knowledge on cars and generally accepted road usage. Don’t know why he presented it as a threat, I was very willing to absorb it all, call me SpongeTrish. It might come in handy should I ever decided to learn how to drive.
Our first stop was at the Equator, fascinating little patch of earth particularly if you are into geography and general weirdness. A water experiment is offered to demonstrate different water flow patterns between the northern and southern hemispheres at a fee, I had no interest, I just wanted to take pictures and Sam needed to stretch his legs.
After driving several hours passed the gorgeous country side, we got to the outskirts of Mbarara Town just before 5pm.we stopped at Igongo Cultural center and Country Hotel for a late lunch and maybe look into their accommodation. We were too late for their legendary lunch time buffet so it was ala carte all around. I had the Lamb,S had the fish, fished from the nearby Lake Mburo,hands down one of the most scrumptious meals I’ve had in a while. That fish was massive! The centre has a museum which for a 10,000ugx fee, one can takes a gander at Ankole/South Western culture; we skipped it since it was getting dark. And went to look at the accommodation. Igongo is posh, beautiful hut shaped domes scattered about. Rates ranged between 100-300$ a night. As lovely and luxurious as they were, it just wasn’t feasible staying here so we went into town instead.
Mbarara, which as far as I’m concerned is the Kampala of the South west has progressed rather slowly, but progressed still since the last time I was here early 2014,a trip to remember that was….After consulting the Almighty Google maps, we checked out Rwizi Arch Apartment Hotel, very luck luster to be honest. I then thought of the last place id stayed at during my last visit. Clearly time heals all wounds because if someone had told me I’d be going back to Oxford Inn, I would have cowered in a corner chanting ‘there’s no place like home’ repeatedly.
On my previous visit, a cousin of mine and I went hardcore bar and club hoping consuming copious amounts of alcohol, we had a really good time, Mbarara night life, different as it is rules! When I did make my way back at 3am,I got the idea from what I’m going to call voices in my head to have myself a nice shower, I must have slipped somehow because I fell hard, hitting my head on a stoop and there I lay completely passed out for I don’t know how long, if it wasn’t for the soap clogging the drain, thus water filling up the cubicle and chocking me awake, I shudder to think how this night would have ended. God the pain! I could feel every bit of my skull throbbing, after what felt like an eternity, I got up, put on my Pjs and went in search of painkillers. I’m pretty proud of my reasoning capacity even in that inebriated state. In the process I locked myself out of my room as I’d left the key card on my pillow. I stood there for a good 20 minutes just staring into the night like a scene out of that ‘All by myself” song, looking back this is all very comical to me but at the time, I was seconds away from a complete meltdown which did ensue once I went down to reception in search of a spare key only to find a security guard who didn’t speak English and had no access to spare keys. He couldn’t help me. I just started crying, I don’t know, I was just done with life at that point. He did put his arm around my shoulders to comfort me; I welcomed it, I so sad in that moment. I wonder where that guy is, we had a moment, Ha! Alcohol! I caught a glimpse of my face in the fish tank nearby, it was a particularly ugly cry.
I didn’t get back to my room till 6:30 that morning when the cleaning crew came through. Did I mention the pain! it was at 100% at that point. My head, neck, shoulders, elbows, generally my whole self, even my eyelids got in on the action. I was too much pain to be hangover. This was the first and last time I ever genuinely contemplated giving up drinking, while I was deliberating I glanced to my left and saw all the left over bottles of booze from the night before and laughed at what was an obvious cosmic joke. When I woke up that evening, I went in search of a masseuse to put me out of my misery, my cousin took me to a questionable local parlor where this rather masculine, light skinned moderately bearded woman began to man handle in ways I can’t begin to describe, I will spare you the horror. In some countries I’m sure this is considered assault. By the time I left, I was worse off than before, only this time, bruising had set in. I became numb to the world as my pain receptors had brocken.Naturally I wasn’t speaking to my cousin as I blamed him for my misfortune, was it his fault, no! But sometimes in life one needs an outlet. I left Mbarara a broken thing.
Once we got to Oxford though, it was all a distant memory, the place had changed, the key card system was no more, replaced with good old lock and keys. I guess they’d had many more incidents such as mine.
The rooms were clean and comfortable. What stuck with me however was the fact that the beds came equipped with plastic sheeting below the bedsheets, gross! I guess the amount of pesky fluids from horizontal refreshment in this neck of the woods is of biblical proportions.Nasty,just Nasty!.
We then went in search of Patrick, Sam’s friend who lives and works in Mbarara, very pleasant guy. He came with a friend KK, a Munyankole Don Juan. Not in the physical sense, just the drama that seemed to follow him and give him so much glee. We went to a local pub where Footie was afoot. Most people were glued to the screen. It was here that I encountered Rhonda, the most overly familiar waitress I have ever witnessed. She really lay it on thick, she seemed to be following the whole, ‘I’m coming on to you strong’ mantra. Whatever works for you girl, It did occur to me as the night progressed, she might want to change her tactics when her fellow waitress ,friend and rival Faith, who doesn’t drink and does the whole silent and calm routine repeatedly stole her thunder. I was totally entertained out here!
Once the game was done, crowd subsided and drinks got flowing, talk turned to a delicacy in these parts, Bugosi,GOAT BALLS to you and I. We were pretty keen to try them but they are only available Sundays and on order, S and I vowed to return for them. Rhonda sauntered back to our area, took a shot and proceeded to give us all seductively little kisses on our necks, mine was particularly wet. We all just brushed it off. I mean it was inappropriate to a degree but I guess there are stranger scenarios in life, like licking someone’s grandfather from saggy chin to receding hairline. I’ve seen some fucked up things in the club!
After a while we hit the club, Ice its called. Nice décor, the DJ was on point !I’ve seen some funny things in my time but KK dancing, actually I believe that was his mating call was the funniest thing I’d seen since the year started. The memory, make it stop!
The one consistent thing about being in Mbarara is the rampant body odor that fills the air in pubs and nightclubs. I say this with certainty; a lot of people down here don’t use deodorant! It is what it is, just ignore it and keep it moving.
We left KK and the club at about 4am in search of some food, after consuming the largest portion of chicken ever; it was off to sleep as we had to continue on to Kabale bright and early the next morning.
Thank you Patrick, Mbarara Stay classy!