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I was terrified by ‘Nsenene’

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th November 2005 03:00 AM


I arrived in Uganda at night. I didn’t see much to make an impression at that time, but the first morning made up for it. When I walked into the shower room, I found three huge grasshoppers on the wall. I got stuck at the entrance for a while, not knowing what to do. I was terrified. But I co

Confessions of a Tourist
Marjo Jarvinen, LAHTI, FINLAND


I arrived in Uganda at night. I didn’t see much to make an impression at that time, but the first morning made up for it. When I walked into the shower room, I found three huge grasshoppers on the wall. I got stuck at the entrance for a while, not knowing what to do. I was terrified. But I could see that they were as terrified!

I really needed a shower, so I couldn’t think about waiting for them to leave! I thought of something that could get them to fly away.

“The shower!” Carefully, I tiptoed to the tap and turned it on. They flew about in frenzy. I rushed out of the shower in horror. I didn’t want them to touch any part of my body.

That evening, they were all over town. Someone informed me that they swarm the city at particular times of the year. It was funny when I saw them being sold on the streets as delicacies. I tasted one and it didn’t taste too bad.

I must say that that took me some guts. I have eaten dogs, snakes and guinea pig on my travels but insects, no way! In Europe, the most difficult thing to eat is an insect.

While the grasshoppers had given me an early introduction to wildlife, I came here to do two things — go white water rafting and gorilla tracking. A tourist friend from India and myself, were at the bus station by 6:00am on the second day. I was heading to Kisoro to see the gorillas.

We had been told the fare would be sh15,000. But when we got to the bus station at 6:00 in the morning, we were asked to pay sh20,000 because it was the last bus. That is when chaos and entertainment begun. I refused to pay. I demanded to see receipts of other passengers. The figures looked like sh20,000 but for some reason they were not very clear.

Everyone got involved: the passengers, driver, conductor and people at the station. I didn’t understand the language they spoke so the fray went on for over 10 minutes. Eventually we paid it.

It was hilarious, but I kind of feel embarrassed. Whenever I am paying for something, I feel I am paying much more than I should.

I think that there is a tourist’s price to everything. Because of our colour people think that we have money and we should pay a higher price. I find that annoying.

Three hours on the journey to Kisoro, the bus broke down. It took 30 minutes before realising that the bus had stopped because the rim was broken! The driver went and sat under a tree shade. The co-driver disappeared with our money. Everyone, but another tourist friend and myself, seemed relaxed.

We needed to get to Kisoro since we had been booked to track the gorillas the next day at 6:00am. It started raining heavily. The bus door was closed and the driver was in there sleeping. We sought refuge in a farmer’s small house.

They told us that we should be on the road in an hour’s time. But my friend told me that an hour means three hours in Uganda. Other passengers were friendly and conversational. Four hours passed without us noticing, but we had to find other means to Kisoro. With their help, we hired a matatu and arrived in Kisoro at 12:30am. We learnt that the bus was fixed after seven hours!

I have been here for five days but it has been like a never-ending day. My mind is jammed with many things different from Finland — the landscape, the people and the language. It is so green and the air is so fresh.

Tracking the gorillas was tiresome, but worth it. The white water rafting was breathtaking. I could return to Uganda just to engage in those two things again.

As told to Raphael Okello

I was terrified by ‘Nsenene’

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