Thursday, October 6, 2011

You never know what a day might hold….

We woke up at 5:30 a.m. yesterday to prepare for an early morning trip to Mukono, 13 km on the other side of Kampala.  Karl, Ken and I had a long list of meetings and errands for the day and so needed an early start to accomplish everything and get back home before dark.  Traffic was light on the way, so it turned out to be less than a 3 hour trip to reach this town where Uganda Christian University is located.
UCU and traffic jam 033
It is a beautiful campus with many outdoor seating areas for students to gather and study together.
UCU and traffic jam 038  UCU and traffic jam 040
Ken and I had two very good meetings at the university with the Vice-chancellor and the Dean of Education about ways that Timothy Centre and UCU could help each other in Christian teacher training while Karl drove back to Kampala to get started on the list if errands to be done there. 
When we were done at UCU, Ken and I hopped on boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) that took us to the taxi park and then traveled by taxi into Kampala, stopping to submit his application for his Ugandan driver’s license along the way (about an hour long procedure of waiting in lines at three different wickets).  We rendezvoused with Karl in Kampala and found that he had finally succeeded to collect the custom made mosquito nets for the Timothy Girls High School dorms (after several months of waiting, returning nets sewn incorrectly, more waiting)!  So far, so good!  We ordered kitchen cabinets for our headmistress’ house, bought a fridge for the bakery in Kibaaale,   picked up new signs that had been ordered for the school and the centre, had lunch and did some grocery shopping.  With everything done, feeling quite pleased with the day, we headed out of the city with time to make it home before dark….or so we thought!  About 5 km out of Kampala the traffic came to a standstill.  It was still daylight, but as we sat…and sat…and sat and watched taxis and trucks hem us in on both sides as they tried unsuccessfully to squeeze past, the twilight faded….
UCU and traffic jam 045 …and faded…
UCU and traffic jam 046
…and we began debating whether we should even consider carrying on if the jam ever cleared.  It would mean traveling over 100 km in the pitch dark on a road with hundreds of crazy taxi and truck drivers jostling for position on less than ideal roads.  (Uganda has the highest per capita road accident rate in the world.) We prayed there wasn’t a terrible accident ahead (as often there is at such times) and called the guest house we regularly stay at in Kampala to see if they had room in case we could find some way to actually turn around. 
Darkness fell and we all still sat there, as many truck drivers and taxi drivers wandered around trying to find out what the problem was.  The jam was so long that it was impossible to find out the cause of the problem without  a handy radio “road report” like we have back in Canada. The roadside vendors who carry baskets of bananas, peanuts and other snacks on their heads looking for hungry customers were doing a great business by this time!
UCU and traffic jam 048 Also, by this time there were five lanes of traffic heading in our direction (on a two lane highway) and a few vehicles somehow managing to sneak back into the city in the opposite direction (actually driving in the ditch mostly).  We saw our chance when a taxi in front of us squeezed between two trucks and pulled a U turn … and with a considerable amount of manoeuvring and the kindness of a couple of truck drivers who waved us through, we managed to turn back in the direction of Kampala and arrived at the guest house 5 hours after leaving the city!  We stopped at a shop to buy toothbrushes, drinking water and underwear along the way and crawled into bed for a good rest.  We found out today that some trucks had got hopelessly stuck in a spot where road construction was underway and as other vehicles tried to skirt around them the mud was worse…and you can imagine the rest.  Thankfully this morning as we made another attempt at the trip home, things were clear and we sailed right through.  Home, sweet, home!

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