November 2, 2014

Uganda to Madagascar

Filed under: Trips,Uganda — pearsey @ 3:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ok, it’s been a while and I’ve since had another trip (Vietnam earlier in the year), and a few people have mentioned to me that they want to see photos from that one. Seems only fair that I finish off my African trip last year before I put this years trip up. So here goes, and at the very least, I’ll get us to Madagascar in this post!

So my last day in Uganda was supposed to be fairly uneventful (1/6/13). Put some new strings on a guitar, did some computer maintenance and hung around Butera for a bit. Later in the day I attempted to have a bit of a rest – my flight out was around 4am the next day (Sun 2/6/13), so basically it was a night of no sleep coming up. I’m not so good at sleeping during the day, so that was a little unsuccessful. Finally got tired of that, packed up my stuff and made sure that I put everything I didn’t want to lose in my hand luggage, because I didn’t want to arrive in Madagascar with nothing if my check in luggage was lost.

We took the hire car back, had some pizza for tea (not at the usual Nicky’s Pizza haunt though), visited the dock area and downed a few passionfruit while they were still plentiful.

All fairly uneventful. That’s when the fun starts. I’d just visited the bank to get some UGX to leave with Mike. Policeman pulled us over and claimed we’d done something wrong. To cut an extremely long story short, he wouldn’t take us away and wouldn’t give us his ID number (as they are legally obliged to do) so we spent nearly half an hour arguing over his payment to “release” us. Finally we gave up and paid him (and his offsider) around 10,000 UGX to let us go. We had plenty of time, but I still had a plane to catch!

Now if the night ended there, you would probably shrug it off as typical Africa. It’s not unusual for white people to be pulled over by the cops in Uganda and asked for money. The police often aren’t your friends in these countries. Of course, the story didn’t finish there and we drove about 5 minutes further from the city toward the airport when we did the right thing and stopped at a traffic light. We were just about to take off for the green light when a car came around the corner, running the red light. While we waited for that car, a guy jumped the retaining wall toward our left, ran to the back of the car, opened the boot (it was a 2 door 4WD Rav 4, so has a hinged boot) and grabbed the top bag. Remember the bag that I packed everything I didn’t want to lose in? Yes, it was that bag. Gone were camera and phone chargers, ipod, external hard drives, all my favourite clothes, my song book (I’d been writing songs and hesitated greatly about whether I’d even bring the book), toothbrush, sunnies, jumper, torch, malaria medication… sigh, you name it, it was in there. I still had my money, wallet, passport, phone and cameras, which all would have been in that bag if I hadn’t have been lazy in putting them away, so it could have been worse. And I will concede that the thief got lucky, because what were the chances that we would stop and the boot unlocked at that particular moment. You couldn’t plan that. Anyway, Mike and I did jump out to chase him, but he vanished over another wall too quick and we quickly realised that even though Ev was still in the car, a) we were still vulnerable coz we left the doors wide open and b) we jumped out so quick we didn’t actually put the handbrake on and the car was starting to roll away…

So… anyway, full credit to QBE, I rang them straight away and they were excellent – suggested we go to the police and were very understanding when I told them our earlier run in with the police and why I wasn’t so keen on visiting another police station, especially around 1am in the morning. I eventually pulled in at the police station when I got to the airport – I couldn’t say they were that helpful either, in fact, there was one guy snoring loudly on a bench just near the front desk, they didn’t speak much english at all and halfway through the report the woman puts down her pen, wanders away and leaves us standing there looking at her partner. Nobody says a word and a few minutes later you hear the toilet flush… then we resume. Was pretty funny, but we held our laughter in til we’d left! After it was all done, she said the person who could actually sign police reports wasn’t there, but she wrote our details on a piece of paper and that was what I left with. I checked in with 7kgs of luggage. Wow.

After that, the flight to Madagascar was uneventful. More time was spent hanging around in Nairobi airport waiting for connections and around 4pm that day I arrived in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. Small airport, many willing “helpers” who wanted a tip for carrying my luggage (as if I was going to let anybody near my luggage!), signs in Malagasy and French and a driver who spoke not much english for our short trip to the IC hotel. Being a Sunday, pretty much all of the shops are shut – we had a few minutes to duck into the one shop that was open and get some supplies (some food and of course a toothbrush!) and a brief visit to the pharmacy to find some replacement doxycycline (malaria medication) (which they didn’t have, I got something else, which I think was used if you actually had malaria and ended up making me sick).

Tennis Biscuits

Tennis Biscuits

I wasn’t expecting everything to be in French so I couldn’t read much, but I could read the label on the packet of “Tennis” biscuits. I didn’t get any, but I do wish I had’ve got some of them for my tennis team! Great view and sunset and good food (went with the safe spag bol, it was all I could read on the menu) at the IC restaurant to finish the day, but it didn’t make me feel much better.

View of Tana from IC Hotel

View of Tana from IC Hotel



  1. […] at a frightening pace. This is where I disclose that I wasn’t really that well (thanks to the malaria medication I think) but even still, we were overtaking over groups and we’d started much later than them […]

    Pingback by Isalo National Park | Thumper... — December 30, 2014 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  2. […] We got to the airport again with hours to spare, and surprisingly Nairobi airport hadn’t changed much since we were there about 12 days ago. […]

    Pingback by The journey home | Thumper... — January 8, 2015 @ 12:48 am | Reply

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