First we filled up with 384 litres of fuel, which I calculated cost within ten dollars of the full amount one could collect from the 60 seats, so either the profit margin is very very small (basically the passengers over capacity), or that fuel must include the return trip. No wonder so little is spent on vehicle maintenance. No one budged from their hard-earned seat, but it would have been possible to buy anything from bottled water to socks, dictionaries, school books, gum, or a suit jacket from vendors who wiggled up and down the aisle. Finally we were off, peering over walls and into compounds and shops from the high vantage of the bus window, twisting and turning and bumping over the rough back ways of the city. Within a few minutes a small boy three rows behind us had thrown up all over himself and the floor, the stench of which made us even more thankful for the open window bringing air. Once we left the city limits we gathered speed, so there was a good breeze as the papyrus swamps and small villages flew by. A small TV mounted at the front played Ugandan music videos, with cheerful reggae rhythms and girls in scandalously skimpy clothes, a sharp contrast to the respectfully dressed passengers clutching their bags and holding on for dear life, or kids in their best suits heading to visit grandparents in the ancestral villages. At the half- way point we stopped for the swarm of fast-food street vendors to shove their meat kabobs, roasted cassava, or chapatis through the high windows. After that the bus stopped more frequently (which slowed our progress but in my opinion also improved our safety) until the aisles were also too full to accommodate any more people, chickens, boxes, or other items. A young woman with a baby struggled to balance beside us, but when I tried to hold the baby for her he began to cry, so she instead sat on the arm rest, practically in my lap.
And so we reached Fort Portal, amidst banners announcing the National Football Tournament. Our adventure had barely begun, and I was glimpsing some of the purpose of God in our lives: to dismantle a bit of the carefully constructed safety net we had accumulated, which after many years had become a barrier between us and Uganda.