(Scenic Gulu)Last week we were extended an amazing invitation from a friend of a friend of a friend. He runs a project for war-orphans in Pader, which is way way way up north in the "war-torn" region about as far from somewhere as one can really get. Normally this would immediately go into the "thanks but no thanks" pile, but this one felt different. First off, it's not everyday that we get chance to go see that area with someone with real business up there- if the stories are true, you can't up there and not see some real wild ish. Second and perhaps most relevant, dude was a Rasta. You know like Bob Marley, dreadlocks, red, black green bracelets. The Rastaman is a friendly people, and if you can't trust a Rasta then who can you trust in this world, right?
So anyways, we went to Kampala to talk with him and iron out the details. All seemed to be ok, we agreed to help split the costs up to but not exceeding x shi-shi's. All seemed well, and early the next morning he picked us up with his buddy the former-soldier-turned-Rasta and we were off. Oh but wait we have to get gas first. Umm, no problem let's just stop at the gas station. It'll take five minutes, right. Haha, quite wrong my friend. Not for a rasta. The simple process you imagine when you think of fueling a car went a bit different with this dude.
Step 1: Drive to a sketchy neighborhood taxi park
Step 2: Ask the sketchiest guy you see about where to get some gas, ya know gas- wink wink.
Step 3: Follow his directions to a different, sketchier neighborhood.
Step4: Repeat step 2, squeeze guy into the backseat.
Step 5:Following his directions, find sketchier-than-sketchy backalley where he knows a guy
Step 6:He runs off and returns with a full jerrycan and a cut-in-half water bottle.
Step 6: Fill gas tank with discount, bootleg gasoline using homemade funnel.
Easy right? It only took three hours, but it was firesale prices. $30 to fill the tank instead of like $50. Oh you silly rastas.
So this stereotypically gyspylike behavior continued and continued. In retrospect I don't think we bought a single thing on the up and up. As things progressed we started to hear those few words a bit too often for comfort: "Can I have..." Well, to represent Ugandan English accurately: "You give me..." I like to think I'm a generous person, but one thing I'm not is a mealticket. I'll pay for my friends all day, but sorry brah I and I ain't really close like that. We knew it was time to ditch when we went to sleep hungry after agreeing to "You buy lunch then I'll buy dinner."
So there we were in Gulu, last outpost of civilization before South Sudan, sans Rasta convoy. Time to get home. You know anyone or anything in Gulu? Me neither. I guess we gotta get somewhere somehow.
The stage was set for our triumphant return to Liratown.