The Great African Love Bus


Welcome to He Says, She Says Sundays! A battle of the sexes. Two different opinions on a jointly enjoyed experience! Have fun reading them both! 

He says: 
The idea of traveling by bus from Kampala to Mombasa seemed romantic. But I did not know it would turn out to be like something from a Robert James Waller novel! When I mention The Bridges of Madison County, it does not mean I met a forty-something year old farmer’s wife who was looking for Prince Charming. I had a princess right by my side when I set off from Kampala. But with all the cameras dangling on my neck, I did feel like a younger version of Robert Kincaid who is courageous enough to steal Francesca from the sexless and passionless farm, and that dreary life in Madison County, and run away with her to live as wanderers, not knowing where tomorrow will find us. 
I did not think of that analogue as we set off, but twenty four hours on the road made me think of that fictitious NatGeo photographer. And there being very few toilet breaks, it seemed even longer. It was the longest bus ride I had ever taken in my life. But the decision not to fly was a good one, because for a tenth of an air ticket, I got the adventure of my lifetime and a free safari through the game parks of Kenya!
We took Queen’s Coach, which turned out to be the real deal. It was much more comfortable than we had imagined. It was squeaky clean, air-conditioned, and the seats were spacious comfortable. We got a feeling we were in a plane. It set off at 8 pm on the dot, the speed was steady, the driver careful. We wished it was taking us all the way to Mombasa. They even served snacks on board, which completed the illusion that we were on a plane.
A food stop on Mombasa high-way
 The princess had packed a lot of food. Pizza, biscuits, rolex (a Ugandan fast food comprising of chapati and eggs), fruit juice, sodas—so much food that I thought we were going to a party! If you want to know why men are from the sun and women are from moon, just ask them to pack a bag for a trip. She insisted we did not need a lot of clothing. “It’s only for two weeks,” she argued. “Take only three shirts.” Wow, what if they get dirty, madam? “We’ll wash them.” I did not fancy doing laundry on a holiday, but sometimes it is hard to argue with a girl. However, I insisted on packing a sweater. “It’s only taking up space!” and I mentioned that traveling at night requires warm clothing. I was proved right. At three am on the highway, the cold bit into our bones with such ferocity that she stole the only sweater she had allowed us to pack! Being a gentleman, I let her have it.
Brings me back to the amount of food she packed. It beat my understanding, why she preferred to take so little clothing and so much food. When we got into the bus, the food was practically useless, for the Queens coach staff served us with snacks. Coffee or tea? Cakes? Breads? Soda? We had a whole variety to choose from.
And we debated over taking my laptop. She said it was too heavy. But how could I survive for two weeks without my laptop? I tried to point out that if we lighten our load by leaving behind some of that food – of course I did not finish making my point. But I still took the laptop, and she carried it all the way, grumbling about its weight. Poor girl. The moment we reached Mombasa, she was the first to demand using it to update her status on Facebook. I almost said “I told you we’d need it”, but being a gentleman, I simply smiled and let her have her way.
Four hours after setting off from Kampala, we stopped at the border town of Malaba. We bought Kenyan shillings from money-changers with unbelievably cheap rates. On the Ugandan side, the customs people were nice and smiley and did not give us any trouble. But on the Kenyan side, they were nice and smiley and wanted a bribe because I had not carried my Yellow fever certificate. Well, not all of them, just this one policeman who was doing some kind of security check. He saw me traveling with a foreigner and he thought he had fallen into a pot of honey. Luckily, Reiza had hers, otherwise she would have been forced to cough up a hundred dollars in bribes. It happened to her once in Nairobi airport. Since then she learned to carry her yellow fever card whenever facing Kenyan custom officials.
Well, the toilets in Malaba were awful, and expensive to use, so we decided to take our chances avoided them. Turned out to be a bad idea. We did not get a break again for the next seven or so hours, until we were in Naivasha (or was it Nakuru), when the bus stopped for about an hour. Everybody rushed to the bathrooms, then to a nearby restaurant to grab a quick breakfast. (Again, I asked myself, why all that packed food?)
This lady can eat!
Since it was daylight now, the joys of traveling through Kenya by road started to show. First we passed the Rift Valley. The spectacular views were even made more enchanting by the morning mists, with the sun just coming up from behind some distant mountains.
Then, just before reaching Nairobi, we passed a game park. Reiza saw her first zebras that morning. She was frozen in a mixture of excitement and shock, as you can see in the photo. She wanted to tell the bus driver to stop so we could get out and enjoy it all, but she restrained herself. It begun to think of the three hundred dollars she paid for a safari to Murchison falls in Uganda. She did not get to see any zebras then! Yet here she was, on a bus, and there were zebras right on the roadside, grazing gently, unperturbed by the bustle of vehicles on the highway.
I did not exactly capture her reaction to seeing the zebras
but trust me, she screamed that everyone in the bus stared!
By the time we reached Nairobi at about 9am, her excitement had trebled. The bus deposited us near River Road. We did not know Nairobi very well, and were wary of muggers, but we managed to find a bus to Mombasa without much trouble. We picked Mash Poa at random, and it was comfortable enough. Though it had no air-conditioning, which on the road to Mombasa is necessary because we passed through arid areas with the temperatures at nearly 40 degrees, we at least could open the windows. 
The road to Mombasa had more surprises that made her squeal every mile or so, much to the bemusement of the other passengers. However by this time, we were starved of sleep, and were wishing we had rested in Nairobi before proceeding. It being only about eight hours from Nairobi, we thought we could handle it. But we made a wrong decision of setting off from Nairobi at 11am, first because we were on the road in a bus with no AC when the heat of the day was at its worst. A night journey would have been friendly, but that would mean missing out on game. We saw more zebras, and this time giraffes as well, but the best of all sights were the red elephants of Tsavo. We saw three of them standing by the roadside. The bus was too fast, and by then our reflexes was dulled by exhaustion, so we failed to take the photos. We had to content ourselves with the images of the red elephants being burned into our brains for the moment.
Of course, they are not elephants.
But you see my point about animals by the roadside.

We reached Mombasa at about 6pm, and our second mistake struck us. We should have timed our departure from Nairobi properly. This was Friday, and we ran into the worst jam I’ve ever experienced. It took us more than two and a half hours to get into Mombasa town from its outskirts. By that time, after more than twenty four hours on the road, all I wanted was to sleep. I nearly cried in frustration, and in pain for I was dying to pee, but there was nothing we could do other than endure. We finally took a taxi to Nirvana Backpackers and at least the accommodation there was so comfortable we fell asleep before we knew it.


Even before we became an item, Dilman and I were tickled by this idea of a road trip around Africa, filming our experiences along the way in the hopes of baking a mean documentary and whipping a bestseller. You know, two strangers travelling together for six months. Will they fall in love or beg the gods to not let their paths cross ever again? Weave in the inter-racial thread in the picture, and you get yourself a money-making venture, people!


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2 thoughts on “The Great African Love Bus”

  1. I think the reason she brought too many food is that maybe you guys will get hungry? I don't know either. I, on the other hand, can't stand not having too many clothes for a trip. Haha. But looks like you guys had a lot of fun!


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