Fort Portal market, Day 362

Matoke on their way to market, Fort Portal, Uganda, Africa

Naturally, the day we leave Fort Portal is the day the town awakens from its slumber to host the weekly market. The market is located at the bus station and the bus from Fort Portal back to Kampala is delayed. At this early point in the morning many of the people at the market are selling snacks for the trip. Similar to a Thai satay of a Middle Eastern kebab, meat skewers seem particularly popular as do fried matoke (starchy green bananas commonly eaten in Uganda). A sign in the middle of the market points to nearby public toilets. The sign is given a wide berth by the locals, which makes me think the toilets themselves may not be that clean. Just a hunch; I don’t intend to find out. Once we finally leave Fort Portal, past the tea plantations we visited yesterday, we encounter many people on their way into town for the market. One guy on a bicycle is completely weighed down by matoke; I don’t know how he stays upright. We also see several Ankole-Watusi cows. These are remarkable creatures. They have been bred specifically to tolerate extreme changes in temperature and weather conditions. Their large horns act as temperature regulators, disseminating heat from the circulating blood supply and keeping the cow cool. The horns of the Ankole-Watusi cows are actually hollow, saving the poor beast from a permanent headache, but offering little in the way of defensive support.

The journey back to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, is probably the smoothest we have endured and for the only time during our bus adventures in East Africa we are not the only Mzungus (Kiswahili for foreigners) on board. Arua Park remains a hell hole. Seriously, if the Uganda government / army want to do something useful they could start by leveling Arua Park and starting again (not sure if I need to qualify this, but after they have moved the people out first). It takes an hour for our Link bus to get into the bus depot and another 30 minutes for our taxi to escape the mayhem. Christi and I spend yet another night at the Backpackers hostel. And the power fails again. If you took the Backpackers hostel and Arua Park out of the equation Uganda is actually a great place to visit (the homophobia aside).

Tomorrow is our last full day of potential exploration in Uganda and Africa and our Year of Wonder. I can’t believe our travels are almost over. I think I am going to cry. This puts me in the midst of a dilemma. Should I do something tomorrow or let the day fade away into anticlimax. Christi is adamant that she is doing nothing adventurous or energetic. She argues for a lazy day in a hammock with a good book and plenty of cold drinks. I on the other hand am toying with a rather reckless last day. It is often regarded as a highlight of Uganda if not Africa in general. It is an activity for adrenaline junkies and not for the fainthearted. I don’t really want to do it, to be honest, but if I don’t do it now, I know I never will. Decisions, decisions…

Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching tale of love and test tubes.  

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