I leave a week from today and I'm starting to consider my list of "Things to do before leaving Uganda." Riding a boda boda, or motorcycle taxi, was tentatively one of them. Thus far I have refused to take one, having already seen two accidents involving boda bodas. But today the opportunity arose and I took it.
I was on my way to the shrine at Namugongo, but had given my Kampala A-Z map to Taryn, so my directions were a little sketchy. I knew I needed to reach the Northern Bypass and go beyond it.
At the top of a hill in Kiwatule, I could see the Northern Bypass in front of me. It didn't look quite right on the map. I asked a man standing in front of the police post in front of me if following that road would take me to Namugongo. He started to give elaborate directions in decent English, then flagged down a boda boda. Giving quick directions is some language that was most certainly not English, he then turned to me and said, "The boda boda driver will take you where you need to go."
Well, OK, then.
Here's the thing: if I was going to take any single boda boda ride, this would be a good one. There were decently paved roads and little traffic and a short ride. So I got on.
I was terrified the whole time. Helmet? Are you kidding? I just kept thinking, "If we come to a sudden stop, I'm going to die." And even though the roads were decent, there were still potholes, bumps, and general unevenness. A matatu passed us close on the right, beeping at us. Turning corners, I was never sure whether to lean into the curve or away. And my other worry was, "If something happens to me now, the people at home are going to kill me."
But I arrived safely at the foot of the road leading to Namugongo and I can check "boda boda" off my list. I promise I will not be doing it again.