Monday, August 24, 2009

16 again

my new ride - the pajero - at the OMT compound in Gulu

"I'll drive! I'll drive!"
"You want me to come pick you up?"

After selling the Focus and committing to bike commuting last August, I never dreamed I'd own another vehicle, let alone fall in love with driving... a {gasp} diesel SUV. Sorry Earth, but I wouldn't do much good if I ended up another victim of the boda boda fate.

In June I bought a Pajero from my roommate's friend, assuming I could trust in a mzungu's car care enough. I was so busy before leaving that I didn't bother to have a mechanic check it out. I came back from my US holiday in July and a day later hopped in my new Pajero to drive up to Gulu - and shredded a tire on the way which point I quickly realized that all four tires needed to be replaced. A few weeks and thousands of additional dollars in repairs later, I have a pretty reliable, rugged, diesel SUV that gets me everywhere I need to go.

And as for the driving-on-the-left (cake), traffic jams (not so bad), and obstacles (goat! chicken! woman with bananas on her head! man with a bicycle! twenty boda bodas riding my bumper! pothole!)... it's nothing. I learned by osmosis from all the other crazy drivers in this town. I hopped in the car and immediately became a part of the "flow" - if you can call it that.

The only time you find me on a boda boda these days is to go downtown to Nakivubo Mews to buy fabric/sponge/etc. It's too insane to get out of there - in one jaunt with Medi I ended up stuck on a street full of matatus for 1.5 hours. That's the point on the curve where risking your life on a boda boda actually sounds better than wasting another minute sucking matatu fumes and wondering if you'll ever get home.

All longish-term people in Uganda - I URGE you to get a vehicle. Just have a mechanic look at it before you buy it!

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