I have a new mode of transport to add to my repertoire of blogging: the boda boda. This is basically a motorcycle taxi and now my primary means of transport in Kampala. It was never really meant to be that way because I am actually terrified of motorcycles in general and motorcycles in traffic with crazy drivers in particular. On my first evening in Juba, I discovered that my fear of bodas was not irrational as I was witness to a boda v matatu crash which ended not so well for the boda driver and swore me off bodas in Juba in general.
I thought I could continue this moratorium on riding bodas all the way through to Kampala. But really, in a city that rivals Nairobi in traffic (and we all know how much time I spent stuck in Nairobi traffic), it is so incredibly practical to slalom in between the car and traffic and still be able to keep time as you know how long it will take you to get from point A to point B (although I still find myself in the minority in terms of actually keeping time).
Part of the trick of riding bodas in Kampala, is finding yourself a reliable boda driver and then calling him routinely when you need to get anywhere.
I found my guy.
He became this after being the first boda driver I met who charged me the correct price to get home, he drove carefully AND he wore a helmet himself (which I always find is a good indication of the drivers own perception of safety – at least that is what I tell myself).
Now after 2 months of riding bodas, I am beginning to get less terrified of them. This manifests itself in the fact that now I only have to hold on with one hand (rather than gripping for dear life with two). Sometimes (just sometimes) when there is a flat stretch of road and no other vehicles around, I find myself not even holding on anymore (and yes, with Kampala’s excessive amount of potholes and vehicles, sometimes does not happen very often). One other way it manifests itself, is that now I can start having conversations on my boda rides (as opposed to focusing my thoughts on getting to my next destination alive).
Most of our conversations revolve around Manchester United. He is a Manchester United fan – another very important reason that he qualified to become my boda guy. Recently, however, he asked me where I come from. I told him that I was half Austrian and half Ugandan.
Can I ask you a question about your country Austria?
I told him of course he could ask a question and I thought, here it comes, a question about the kangaroos or something of the sort. Another one to add to the list on the Great Austrian Australian Divide.
In Austria, do they cook with charcoal?