Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Malaria and cargo boats

The story of how I got to Uganda and discovered the real Malaria! I left Dar Es Salaam around the 24th wanting to cover some distance. The bus trip was a good eleven hours and it was about half way through that I started to feel the chills. Having not slept much the night before I have to admit to thinking I was simply overtired. The first real warning signs started an hour later when I started to feel what can only be described as serious muscle-ache in my neck which quickly spread to my lower back. Now anyone who has driven on the roads (those that have tarmac) in Tanzania will probably be able to tell you they really like their speed bumps, and these are not gentle ones, oh no! Every bump was acutely felt in my back and neck and together with my feeling cold resulted in the sulk of all sulks on the last few hours of that run. Eventually we arrived at Arusha where I forked out the extra for a normal taxi cab and was taken to a very nice place called Maasai camp.

Bottom line, malaria sucks. Never skimp on your anti malarial tablets and definitely go to the doctor the moment you suspect it may be an issue. Needless to say I failed on both of these, false sense of security from hanging around with the locals who never take prophylaxis and I have the bad habit of trying to ride out feeling ill instead of seeking medical help. Unfortunately malaria hits pretty bad, you sleep through the good parts leaving you wide awake for the fever. That and the inability to eat or even drink much really messes you up. On the 30th I came to my senses and went to the clinic where I was given a small bucket of tablets and told to take them after meals (hurr hurr funny doctor). The nice surprise was that I started getting my energy back on the 1st January, a good omen for the coming year?!

The next few days I toured around Arusha with the help of a bike taxi driver who had no problem with being my passenger instead. I was still grumpy over being ill so decided to get my bus ticket to Mwanza on the south shore of Lake Victoria and leave all the bad mojo behind! By the 4th January I was on the road again and had a nice surprise as two friends from Malawi (Jakob and Ola) boarded the same bus. The ride over was fairly horrific to be honest. There was no tarmac on the majority of the road and the driver had taken to screaming around corners and over bumps as if he was a rally driver. We had all managed to get in the back two rows of the bus so every time we hit a bump we all literally flew into the air. Eventually the driver had to slow down slightly as angry passengers started complaining loudly yet even that did not prevent a tyre blowing out half way through the journey (third one this trip!).

We arrived in Mwanza battered, bruised and very glad to be off the death trap. We found a nice cheap guest house in the centre of town and spent a few days doing as little as possible apart from finding nice restaurants where we could and being guided around by a very kind young local guy who took a shine to us. Having strangely enough tired of using buses I visited the port to see if I could hop on a cargo boat to cross the lake to Uganda. There was a boat leaving on the Friday called the Sukhmani and I managed to get the price down to $40 from the $80 they originally wanted. It was a slow trip taking a total of 38 hours but I had a bunk and was fed with the rest of the crew who were very accommodating and interested to talk with me about anything and everything. As we got near Uganda I was offered a sample of the cargo (lots of beer).

I received no exit stamp from Tanzania as the immigration guys bunked off early and was quite worried when we arrived on the Sunday the 9th as it appeared there was nobody in customs at Port Bell to sort out my visa with. After a few discussions with the local police and me pointing out I really wanted to avoid sleeping on the boat again if there was any way, they called out an immigration official who arrived after an hour and processed my visa quickly. I apologised for the call out - I had been hoping to just be allowed through leaving my passport and then return to sort the visa on Monday - and finally was free to enter Uganda.

One hectic Bodaboda (bike taxi under new name) ride later and I was at Red Chilli Hideaway, a very nice backpacker hostel outside Kampala. This is it! I shall travel north no more - now the plan is to go see the source of the Nile at Jinja and see if I can get a gorilla tracking permit. Ciao for now peeps, this has been Bryan reporting from the equator - hurrah!

No comments:

Post a Comment