The time had come. The time to cross over to the land of the primates. The time for Uganda.
Apparently crossing borders in East Africa is exactly what you would imagine it to be – unorganised and chaotic. And apparently hilarious.
First, we left Kenya. We lined up in the departures area where the friendliest immigration officer I had ever encountered stamped us out. As we waited for the group to get through we had the opportunity to hang out with the locals who use the border no-mans-land as a stomping ground.
First there was the samosa man, who carried a big box of hot samosas around his neck packaged in convenient ‘mixed bags’, then there was the beverage guy who wanted to keep us all hydrated, and last, but certainly not least, there was Mr Business.
Mr Business, as he introduced himself, carried a thick clipboard and apparently was going to supply us all with ‘chocolate ice cream’. One of the quick-thinking girls in the group told Mr Business that we were all vegan and simply could not enjoy his chocolate ice cream.
After turning down his offer of chocolate ice cream, Mr Business admitted that he also had vanilla ice cream. Sorry Mr Business, no can do.
Mr Business had more to offer though. Water. Fresh water for everyone.
After declining his offer of fresh water, Mr Business was obviously beginning to get desperate.
“I have Rolexes. Do you want Rolexes”
I had to give it to him, he really did have access to everything.
“What is your name?”
I formally introduced myself to Mr Business and he admitted a dark secret…
“My name is Gerald.”
“I still don’t want a Rolex Gerald, see you on the way back to Kenya”.
And with that we made our way across the bridge to Uganda.
In Uganda similar ‘business men’ strolled around with clipboard, while others carried around goods with them. From bananas to Fanta, everything was on offer.
Weaving through the men in long yellow trench coats, who were apparently ‘money exchangers’, we crossed a wooden plank across a river and lined up in the immigration room.
Those who had not purchased East African Tourist Visas then had the opportunity to buy their Ugandan visas. But the Ugandan immigration officers were extremely sceptical of the US currency. If it wasn’t a crisp, fresh bank note it would not meet their standards of tender.
Between the group enough money was mustered up to pay for the visas, including Gerald’s, who was forced to buy one evan as a South African who had been previously told didn’t require one.
The entire process reeked of corruption and monkey business but we were glad to wave goodbye to the yellow coated men and friendly rifle-baring military officers as we made our way into the land of Chimpanzees and Gorillas.
Time for some fun monkey-business.
(I later discovered that a ‘Rolex’ is actually a Ugandan snack food.)