Thursday, July 14, 2011

Public transportation

Back in Vancouver I am sure I only ever rode the city bus once my whole life. I did however ride the school bus from kindergarten until I was 14 and my sister got her driver’s license. In Bellingham, the bus system is one of the main sources of transportation for most of my campus and the local community. Here in Uganda, it just doesn’t exist.

Instead people ride taxis aka vans that have seats for 12 people if you count the driver or (with all the dread and fear in my heart) Boda Bodas aka seriously dangerous motorcycles that function as taxis. I would show you a picture, but they seriously drive so fast I have yet to get a good one!

There is a joke in the village that the passenger limit taxis will allow is not the legal limit of 14 people (notice I say they seat 12, yet the law is 14?) Instead, it is “there is always room for one more.” I’ve counted as many as 5 people on a Boda with one person carrying a chicken, and another carrying a jerrycan full of water. In a taxi I have heard of there being 25 people in it, but the most I’ve ridden with was 20. For this Mazungu girl, that means there were 19 sets of eyes staring at me the entire time, as I was squished beyond recognition inside a van full of strangers.

Boy do they drive fast too. I’m not sure yet if it is safer to walk on the roads and be at constant threat to getting hit; ride in a taxi and not have access to seatbelts as you bump and thrust out of control; or ride on a Boda, which is like sitting behind Evil Knievel as he does his insane tricks, just gripping on to the rear handle bar like your life depends on it (when quite often, it does).      

It will be nice to drive my little car again with my seat belt on, as most of us abide by civilized traffic laws, and ride on the smooth paved road. Oh yeah, and it will be on the RIGHT side of the street as well, instead of in the middle, on the left, on the right, through the ditch, around the children, up on the grass, back on the road, etc. Seriously, I leave no room for exaggeration!

With love,

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