Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Karamoja Unaccompanied: Part I – The Ride There

That 14 hour bus ride was only 12 hours this time, but 12 hours is still a very long day of travel. Gabriel said, “If Ann goes into labor you need to take her to the hospital for me.” The light bulb went on. Going to Karamoja, even for the two days worth of travel alone, was just too far and too long to be away given the impending birth of his first son. Suddenly, I heard some familiar voice coming from I know not where volunteering to go on his behalf. What!?! I volunteered to ride 12 hours one day, take a boda ride into the far reaches for about an hour, sleep among the mosquitoes, and then ride 12 hours back on a bus leaving at 3:00 AM?

The things that Gabriel has done for me at great sacrifice to himself are immeasurable. I count it an honor that he would find me to be a suitable replacement (although the required task was not overly complex). His usual watchfulness, though, was tempered by the fact that Pastor Philip would be there to receive me as the bus pulled in. In theory…

The ride began at 5:00 AM with a bus that stopped as often as possible along the way. The one stop I looked forward to was in Soroti. Remember the banana bread? Yum! Ten individual-size loaves for me please. The ride was long but uneventful…if you don’t count three men leaning into my space for lack of seats and over packed aisles. Sardines come to mind. I met Charles the teacher and Dan the soldier during that ride. I’m sure every man on the bus would have gladly exchanged contact information, but a girl needs to limit herself.

I stepped off the bus to no familiar faces. Pastor Philip was delayed by a flooded river and a broken bridge. “Walk to the Palace Country Inn,” were my instructions. I must admit that I felt rather grown up being allowed to walk that far down the only road in Matany in Karamoja all by myself. The familiar staff at the Inn welcomed me and told me that Pastor Philip had called ahead and arranged a room for me given that he was not there to receive me.