Day 1- Travel to Arua
Finally the day we’d been waiting for was here! I woke up bright and early as usual, having packed the night before. I got to the office at the agreed time, to find only one other person there… and no coaster.
Coaster eventually arrived, after several slightly irritated phone calls, and those of us who were on site got in. I picked my usual spot by a window (easy access to breeze, wistful gazes out the window and elephant spotting- more on that later) and went through my iPod playlist to ensure my #RoadTripMusic playlist was set (more on that later too).
I would name and shame the late-comers, but I’m feeling kind today, so I won’t.
We finally set off almost two bloody hours late, by which time I was already bored and feeling the beginnings of pins and needles in my bum. I figured that Jesus would come back before we reached Arua, but he held off his return. Thanks, JC.
I can’t report much on the start of the journey, because I dozed off as soon as my earphones were in and my travel pillow was in place. After a few messages to the boo, I was safely in La La Land.
I didn’t open my eyes until a few hours later, when we had reached our first pit-stop. Mijjera. I got out of the coaster and stretched a bit, watching my fellow travellers with bemusement as they ordered several choice pieces of road kill. I wasn’t hungry myself, and decided to make do with my faithful bottle of water.
We hit the road again, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stretch of road that had tormented my back last year had since been fixed. We’d been driving for about 45 minutes when DJ BK quipped on Twitter that there were strange smells i.e farts, on the bus. No one else seemed to have been assailed by offending odours, so all I could do was assume that he was the one letting off anti-social gases. He has refused to admit to it, so I guess we’ll just have to see how the rest of the trip goes.
We drove through endless countryside. Endless, but beautiful. Whenever I come to this part of the country, I am always struck by how few men I see working- it’s the women digging, fetching water, carrying heavy loads on bicycles as well as babies on their backs.
We hit Karuma Bridge, and I felt the usual regret that taking pictures here is strictly forbidden. If you have never visited this part of Uganda, you must. It is simply stunning. About half an hour after the bridge, my phone network gave out (thanks for nothing, yellow phone people). But I wasn’t bothered- the scenery and the smell of rain in the air had me enthralled. It was all I could do not to scream ‘STOP THE BUS!!!’ and run outside screaming, filling my lungs with the delicious air. I am pleased to report that my decorum prevailed.
On to my #RoadTripMusic playlist. I just had to share it on Twitter, because even if I say so myself, it is pretty damn good. I kicked off with the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, which is just awesome. Stand out tracks include Fooled Around and Fell In Love, O-O-H Child, Hooked On A Feeling and Spirit In The Sky. Such feel-good, old school choons.
Among the team on the bus, we had Lynda, the wonderful lady looking after us on this trip. Of course my fellow judges Esther and Ken, Ivan our social media whizz, the awesome production team including Hamza and Kasasa, Ruth Grace, last year’s winner, Joshua, our director, DJ BK, and DJ Bush Baby. I’m surprised Bush was still speaking to me by the time we arrived because like an annoying kid in the back seat, I kept asking ‘are we there yet? Are we there yet?!’ He took it all in his stride and never considered throwing me off the bus. At least I hope not.
So, back to my #RoadTripMusic playlist. Here are some of my favourites from today’s journey-
We Will Rock You- Queen
Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In- Fifth Dimension
Stoned Love- The Supremes
Earth Dies Screaming- UB40
You’re So Vain- Carly Simon
The Incidentals- Alisha’s Attic
Heart Of Gold- Neil Young
Fall At Your Feet- Crowded House
Live Forever- Oasis
And so many more. Will post more tomorrow.
I spent most of the time looking out of the window in the hope of spotting some elephants. I have always loved them, from when I was about 4 years old and got to ride one. But that’s for another post.
Sadly, the elephants didn’t come out to play today and my complete tally of sightings was as follows:
Bulls- 2 (at least I think they were bulls)
Skinny herdsmen- 2 and a half (2, one of them was naked)
Goats- 100 (approximately)
Elephants 0 (meh)
Bush Babies 1 (well, he was sat right in front of me so really).
We finally landed in Arua around 4pm, tired, numb-bummed and in serious need of a shower and a hot meal. Thankfully the hotel we’re staying in is pure lovely. They settled us in really quickly, and the whole team was able to refresh themselves and relax.
I met Bush, BK, Joshua and Ken in the restaurant for dinner, where I was regaled with hilarious stories which I can’t divulge here on pain of death. Maybe one day…
So here I am, back in my room, watching the last few minutes of TNR on Urban and gearing up for auditions tomorrow. Is Uganda’s next big thing warming up to sing for us as we speak? How many disastrous auditions will we have to sit through? Is there someone out there who is going to turn up full of confidence and leave us with bleeding eardrums? Any aspiring singers who think they are the second coming of Mariah Carey but sound like a cat being strangled? It remains to be seen.
I’ll keep you posted.