I had decided I would not send any more transportation stories, but this is a 'doozie,' as we say!
In leaving Kamwenge, Faida and I decided to take a public transport van (window van) to a larger town, Mbarara, and from there board a large bus. The ratty, dilapidated matatu (van) picked us up at 6:00am. Faida and I sat in the front with the driver (no seat belts, of course). I had a seat and Faida had a half seat in the middle over the gear shift. The front glass had several huge cracks and the defroster didn't work, so Faida had to keep wiping the windshield for the driver. For part of the trip, we had a third person, a large man, crowded with us on our 1 and 1/2 seats.
Leaving Kamwenge, we sped over the dirt road for about 15 minutes - and then heard a large 'whoosh' sound. The front right tire lost its air! At the same time, the back right tire blew! Bam! Two in one! The driver only had one spare, so he called for a boda-boda motorcycle taxi to bring a second. I grabbed a book from my bag, went and plopped down in the road to read. A few minutes later, a man on a bicycle stopped and laughed. He said, "The muzungu likes to sit in the road and read?" I looked around. The other ladies were nicely squatted, sitting on their feet!
That tire was fixed and off we went. Shortly, I heard the driver and another man saying that when vans roll very few people live. I was, of course, wishing they would talk about something else! Finally, we made it to a town. The driver pulled into a tire place. It seems the second front tire had blown right after being put on, and we had been whizzing the many, many miles on the washboard roads, over the hills, on the rim! No wonder the ride was rough - and they had been talking about the van flipping!
While waiting for that tire change in the town of Ibanda, I spotted a small restaurant. Faida and I went to grab a roll for breakfast and then sat in front on a bench to eat. It was Sunday morning and we had the most amazing treat. Ibanda has a road coming down off a hill that leads into the main town. The road was totally filled with people walking into town for church. It was like the Easter parade - an absolutely beautiful sight of men, women, boys and girls dressed in their finest, all going to worship! This sight in itself would have been worth the trip!
The third tire was fixed and we started again. However, the van was bouncing all over. The driver announced he didn't think the tube in the latest tire was any good - oops!
We made it to Mbarara and onto the larger bus. There were five of us in the very back, long seat. It was a nice group. One man broke his roasted corn (on the cob) in half and gave me half. It was good, and then Faida bought us some meat on a stick, and berries, from one of the people who surround the bus, selling food and drink. For my part, I bought an orange soda - drank half, and passed it to the man who had donated the corn. He just grinned and drank it. My new friends.
What can I say but "thank you God" once more for keeping me safe - and thanks to all of you for your prayers! God must just grin and go - her again?!
Every day, every minute, through the bad rides and the good, I am thankful that I serve in this country! It is an honor!
Love and best wishes,