Saturday, August 27, 2011

Riding the Bus to Moroto

Sopping wet. Those are the words that best describe the first seat I chose on the Gateway bus. Somebody peed or somebody left the window open. I choose to believe the latter. The sun began warming the passengers and the window failed to budge. I moved to the other side. We turned a corner and I was in the sun again.

Stop. Stop. Stop. Jinja is the first main stop for the Gateway bus, the place where I boarded. Next was Mbale where I picked up some very yummy looking vegetables in anticipation of the hotel having no food. Next was Soroti where I bought…guess…yep, banana bread. Next was Matany where I usually disembark but this time I just waved in the direction of the family I know (who was not at home) and continued on to the end destination, Moroto.

People get on and off at major and minor stops along the way. Sometimes they just get off to pee in a bush. Yes, stop the whole bus for one guy. I looked up to see the back of a familiar hat and for a split second thought I’d found Max on the bus.

One lady was managing her sleepy son, a big television box, a big speaker box, a small DVD player box, a blanket, and a bag full of something I know not what…and her purse. I looked down to find g-nut sauce (the general look and consistency of baby poo, luckily not the same aroma) sliding toward my feet and the many items of this lovely woman. We all rode in disgust for a few more stops but when we reached Katakwi, a very kind older woman boarded. She produced a paraffin bag from nowhere and scooped up as much of the g-nut sauce as she could manage. How sweet.

An elderly man joined the bus shortly after the lady left and did the same thing. He scooped and swiped and scraped to get as much of that sauce off the floor as possible. How nice of them both. Then someone brought a shovel of sand to cover and absorb the sauce. No longer worrying about the slime getting all over my shoes I glanced outside at the hawkers pestering the passengers. The nice older man who cleaned up a couple bags of the sauce had used his hands and was now…licking them clean.

A few passengers speculated about what happened (or would happen) to the rest of the sauce he and the old lady scraped up. Dinner? Resale? Can you even imagine a life so bad that you would scrape up spilled food off the floor of a bus where dirty shoes and bare feet so recently tread?