We left Jinja at 4am headed for Bundibugyo and before we got out of town it started to rain. The only thing worse than driving at night in Africa is driving in the rain at night! I’ve never traveled at night on the main roads in a small vehicle and I’m going to do my best to avoid it in the future!!!
Once again, I’m with my friend, Bishop Gogo, in his vehicle which is a small SUV. Think really small, smaller than we have in the states. Originally, we were supposed to take a bus but somehow that changed to his vehicle. Now if you are thinking that is good news, think again. I learned the hard way that the shocks on the car are not just bad, they are total shot! The front shocks are not as bad as the back but since the back shocks are totally shot the front barely work.
Now bad shocks are not new to me. When I was young and dumber, I know that’s hard to believe that I was once even dumber than I am now, it’s hard for me to believe some times, this is one of those time. Anyway, back then, I had an old car that had worn out shocks. Driving around town wasn’t too bad, just kind of rough, but if you ever got above 40, it started to sway and bounce up and down. The faster you went the worse it got until you felt like you were fixing to lose control and wind up in the ditch or worst. But this trip? Just imagine what was happening in the rain, at night, on super dark roads, without a center line, and without side strips or when the strips are barely visible!
Now I’m in the back seat sitting on the passenger side so I can see the speedometer. Uganda uses the metric system so the speed is in kph, 70 kph = 43.5, 80=50, 90=56, 100=62, 110=68.4. Wondering why am I telling you this? Well, when you are scared to death because the car is swaying back and forth, bouncing, and you know the faster you go the worst it’s going to get, you can’t help but to look to see how fast you are going. The problem with that is that when you see 80 kph or 100 kph, your mind can not do the math fast enough. All that registers is 80 or 100 so you start wondering if there are any unrepentant sins in your life. Just to be sure, you confess everything you can think of, even stuff you’ve never done!!! Better safe than sorry.
Now James, our driver, which is a term that I’m using very loosely, thinks that each time we are almost bounced off the road is hysterical. To compound our situation, he is not able to see at night very well so he drives down the middle of the road even with when there are other vehicles coming. If they don’t move over, which trucks and buses never move over, then at the last second James snatches the wheel over and you miss the oncoming vehicle by about 6 inches.
Another thing which isn’t helping James to see is that, in Uganda, everybody drives with their brights on and since the roads are so bad, they are not even pointing in the right direction. At one point when I was pretty sure that we were going to run head on in to an oncoming truck, I said something to James and his response was he couldn’t see for the oncoming headlights!!! Between James’ vision, the rain, and me yelling, “OH GOD SAVE US”, James finally stares to slow down to almost a stop and pull over, trying to find the edge of the road to get out of the way. Phew. I have now confessed the sins of the whole world and am praying, “Oh God, just let me live till the sun comes up.” Surely, once James can see, it will get better. Oh foolishly boy, stop thinking such foolish thoughts.
Daylight finally comes and the only change is that we quit slowly down. James, for some reason, likes driving on the wrong side of the road, which is the right side of the road in the US but we are not IN the US. If there’s not another vehicle coming, and sometimes even when there is one coming, he drives on their side. No, I’m not kidding! This is the truth. We going along swaying, almost out of control, on the wrong side, with a large truck coming, and we’re not able to get back in our lane so, the truck has to move to the center of the road and we pass on the wrong side!!!! As you can imagine, I’m not the best back seat passenger so I start back seat driving. I figured somebody has to do something. With my “help”, which some people would call whining, we get back to our side of the road some of the time, at least we’re not passing oncoming traffic on the wrong side.
Now, I know from previous trips that the road from Ft. Portal to Bundibugyo is a VERY steep, twisting mountain road and so the idea of going down and around the mountain is troubling me greatly, to say the least. James has been going as fast as he can, laughing hysterically between my whining and begging for us to slow down and drive on our side. As we start getting close to Fort Portal, after 8-9 hours of terror, I’m thinking about making them stop to let me out and then bolting for the taxi park so I can take a taxi van to Bundibugyo. I’ve run out of things to confess.
I’m loose in Ft. Portal. This is my chance.
Since I don’t want to offend or hurt the feelings of my African brothers, even though that often leads to bad decisions and tends to get me into difficult situations, I decide to trust the Lord to deliver me from all this and see how the trip down the mountain will go. After our stop in Fort Portal, I manage to sum up the courage to get back in the car and off we go to Bundibugyo.
Turns out it was my best decision of this whole trip. James has never been on a road like this so he is now the one scared to death!! YEA!! He still likes driving on the wrong side but now we are going really slowly, I mean really slow. I even think about asking, “May we go a little faster between curves?” but I come to my senses and, for once, just keep my mouth shut. I am enjoying not whining for a change.
We made it! Not sure how. James started getting a little braver as we got close to the bottom of the mountain but a scream of terror from me got us slowed back down and we finally made it to Bundibugyo, physical ok but mentally shot.