The next morning, we decided to go to the – nearby – equator whilst we waited for our delayed baggage. There is an interesting experiment which you can view there, where water is poured into a drain on both sides of the equator line, and then into a drain on the equator itself. Water spins clockwise one way, anti-clockwise the other way, and then straight down on the line itself! After this, we got our luggage from the airport and began the long, 6ish hour drive to Kumi.
A Long Drive
On the way, we drove through several sugar and tea plantations. You could smell the organic, treacle-like scent of the fumes rising from the sugar processing factory. Near to one, was a large forest which, we were told, was previously going to be knocked down in order to expand the plantations, but large protests from the locals had prevented this from going ahead. According to our driver, most people seemed happy with, “jobs being created by foreign investment” (but clearly the line was crossed in this case). We were also told that one of the sugar plantation owners had built an entire town with schools, hospitals etc for his workers: either a really generous caring guy, or a shrewd business owner, who knows that people work better, and profits increase when basic needs are taken care of; or maybe someone who is a bit of both.
Again, the roads were hives of activity, lined with stalls and shops frequently selling groceries to stopped drivers. This was not a ‘motorway’, and I’d imagine similar to how villages grew up around main trade routes in Europe. As we lost the light, driving began to feel somewhat perilous as there we no street lights (and not much light from the shops); the roads were crowded, but cars were still driving at speed. Occasionally, a speed bump would appear out of nowhere, thankfully the driver had quick reactions.
We stopped for dinner on the way, near a bridge crossing the Nile. The complex was heavily guarded by the Police (and what looked like an armoured tank). I was advised not to leave my laptop in the car, despite (or especially because of) the guy standing in front of our car with an AK-47. Uganda travel advise: don’t take photos of the police (obvious one) or of bridges allegedly.
Ten miles from the town of Mbale (which is about 20 minutes from Kumi) and the road was closed due to flooding. We then proceeded to go down a dirt road (and got stuck behind a bus) which added almost an extra hour onto the journey. After this, we finally arrived at Kumi (around 10:30) and were shown to where we would be staying. We could finally begin the work we had arrived for.