Poor girl. A look of utter disbelief and confused splashed across her now contoured face. You could easily tell, she was not accustomed to this kind of animosity.
Standing helplessly in the narrow bus aisle, she rummaged through her small blue travel bag. Her left hand loosely balancing a black plastic bag, filled with items freshly purchased from the nearby supermarket.
She had just located her rightful seat, in the Modern Coast Bus heading to Nairobi. Approximately 900 Km from her current location, Mbarara, Uganda.
“Young girl! what are you saying? …this is my seat!” yelled the thick-accented woman.
Who then ensued to wave around a small piece of paper in mid-air. The man sitting beside her quickly followed suit. Although, he appeared slightly more apologetic. Nearly pleading with the now puzzled Kenyan girl, to quickly accept her new fate.
No seat meant she was stranded in Uganda. Seat 23 and 24, now occupied by the feisty Ugandan couple. Two against one. I felt for her. Minutes later bolting towards the exit. A clear indication that the frantic search for her ticket had proven unsuccessful. She had lost.
She was me and I her.
I’d stayed in Kigali for nearly two weeks. I just love Kigali, I even consider it my second home. I couldn’t help but fall in love with its vibe and beauty; clean lush green streets and dazzling night lights. It has the friendliest people on Earth too. Like my friend Niyonsaba.
Interestingly enough, most Rwandese claim it’s boring. “It’s just too secure.” they say.No one will snatch off your wig or dash across the street with your purse. Life here is chill and relaxed. More of sunshine and butterflies. In my opinion.
Strangely, I really missed home. Having successfully finished a full dose of disgusting yellow malaria tablets. I was done. FINITO!
My body needed to curl up in a bed. My bed, back at home 24 HOURS away. At this point, my options were limited. If only 36,000 KES fell from the sky, I’d be home well within the hour. But life doesn’t work like that.
Most times life sucks! Or rather being poor sucks. My next best alternative was Mash Poa. It was a Saturday morning, and as luck would have it. Mash Poa was fully booked well into Wednesday. Amazing, right?
I was trying to avoid traveling back using Modern Coast. By all means.
Why You Ask?
Well, because Modern Coast isn’t what it used to be. Currently, No Wi-Fi is provided on the buses. Although they claim the company will provide it in December. Also, no water, biscuits or juice is offered, compared to before. Worst still the old, rickety buses lack air conditioning and have limited working sockets.
Apparently, all this began after the owner was assassinated. In fact, word on the street is his wives are currently having a nasty court battle.
Since I wanted to get done with the 24 Hour trip as soon as possible, ironic as that sounds, Modern Coast was my last and only option. Right from the start, everything that could go wrong did. The bus arrived in Kigali at 6 PM. I’d been patiently waiting for close to 2 hours now; since arrival time was 4:30 PM.
Everything needed to be rushed as you can imagine. We were far behind schedule. And then as luck would have it.BOOM!
In the rush to leave Kigali, we hit a car
Being involved in an accident is one of everyone’s biggest fears. Worst still, when it happens minutes into a 24-Hour journey. It’s simply a bad omen. As expected, the atmosphere on the bus completely changed. You could feel the subtle shift almost immediately – our blind faith in the drivers’ ability to get us to Nairobi safely was gone.
Consequently, the whole ordeal wasted a good one and a half hours of our lives. The lady whose car had been hit took nearly as much time deciding how much she wanted for the dent to her car. Pretty funny to watch btw. The heated exchange and endless phone calls being made. As expected a crowd quickly formed. The only thing missing was a camera crew.
Mr.Accident drove us back to the Modern coast office. Shortly after, in came “the trainee” replacing him. In hindsight, I wish he’d remained, Mr. Accident, that is. Maybe moving forward, he would have been keener.
At any one point, there are always two drivers in any Modern Coast Bus. The replacement though,” the trainee”, was completely inexperienced. So much so that I decided to stay awake during the 2-HOUR drive from Kigali town to the Rwanda-Uganda border. You know? just in case.
I usually have this weird scenario that plays out in my head whenever I’m in any vehicle, yeah? I call it the ” just in case”, where I picture myself jumping out a moving vehicle through the window then sexily rolling down to safety. So I almost always seat next to a window.
The problem here though was the road leading up to the border is built around a hill. A winding road that goes up then down the mountain. I remember looking out the window, it was pitch dark.
Being that it had just rained, the lights from the on-coming lorry made the road appear to be glistering. We had briefly slowed down at the edge of the road, as the lorry carefully made its way down the curved road.
My “just in case” scenario wouldn’t have played out here. It was basically forest and road. Forests to me mean animals, specifically the evil devilish crawling ones. *whispers* snakes. My mum used to call the “wanyama wa chini” then immediately freak out and spit on the ground in order to prevent the universe from blessing her with a free sighting. I should have probably just slept, to be honest. Guys, what do you think?
From the hushed tones and concerned looks being shared. It was evident that his driving made a lot of us uneasy; Every move he made was fully felt throughout the old Modern 3 bus.
(Every long distance Modern coast bus has a specific number plate, so maybe find out before you book so you don’t go through the same )
Especially when he abruptly stopped
It was basically drive. abruptly brake. speed though bumps.brake.drive.speed through bumps.Man! basically the most uncomfortable ride ever.
Not once did he even attempt to maneuver around any bump. He would speed through each one. The old rickety bus suffered their full effect and so did we.
Lights from oncoming vehicles also seemed to frighten him cause again he’d abruptly slow down. So, it was always a welcome relief when the more experienced driver took over.
My one prayer was to safely cross the Ugandan border. Then sleep throughout. The country is basically flat and takes approximately 10 hours to the Uganda-Kenya border. And I did, up until I met mean Ugandan woman.
Continuation: Click Here