January 24 2020

We cover this journey quite a few kilometers unnoticed. It is already time for the 10.000 kilometers turn of the G. At the only Mercedes dealer in Uganda, located in Kampala. The traffic flow in Kampala has a bad reputation. Some call it hell. At the completely fixed intersections Onno is looking for a hole to reach the other side. The last four kilometers, by rolling bumper to bumper, takes over an hour. Walking is faster. It is already 15.00 pm when we arrive at the dealer.

“Western” messages
While Onno stays in the garage by the G, I walk to a Shopping Mall where the South African supermarket chain Shoprite is located. The only chance in Uganda to replenish the 'western' products. The two-kilometer walking route along a busy main road with many market stalls does not feel so safe. I only take cash. Not so smart afterwards. I am no longer used to peppered prices of imported western foods. The amount charged on the cash register exceeds the contents of my wallet. In order of priority, I have products removed from the voucher. Only the most necessary food items, not available elsewhere, remain in the shopping bag. Just until I have enough money on the last shillings for the remaining groceries. I feel like a sloeber and look around with embarrassment. Straight into the eyes of ten Ugandan women standing behind me, staring at me. After a mumbled excuse, I quickly get out of my feet.

Life expectancy
With two full bags I am back in the bustle. The Friday evening peak has begun. A pedestrian is the lowest in the ranking of road users. I have to secure my place in the sand along the road against the upcoming mopeds. Creating a safe space with the shopping bag in forearm length away from me. In the smell of car gases and the dust. This cannot be good for your health. If you already survive the route. Traffic accident is the seventh largest cause of death in Uganda. The current life expectancy of a Ugandan person corresponds to my age. That is confronting. While I feel physically and mentally only 40 years old and statistically still a lot of years ahead. I hope.

Traffic chaos
The G just drives out of the garage when I reach the dealer undamaged. In the meantime, Onno has had his hands full supervising the service. Unfamiliarity of the engineers with the Pur Special Edition would have destroyed many a connection.
With 85 kilometers still ahead we are driving under the barrier at 17.00 p.m. Turn right onto the road. At least, that's the route. After 10 minutes we are still on the sidewalk. The traffic is completely blocked. On the large main road in the distance the traffic rushes past. Not giving space to the cars in this side street. We look hopefully at a cop in a spotless white outfit. When does he take the lead in this chaos? The authority does nothing, he watches along the way. A motorist far in front of us sees a small hole and sends his car off the main road. We connect in the stream. Motorists and mopeds claim their place with grim facial expressions. Do not give an inch of space or give priority to fellow road users. No government providing information on the road to improve traffic flow. For example through entry and exit lanes. Agents who leave traffic to their own devices. All of a sudden I understand the Ugandans better.

Ugandan culture
In African culture it is customary to say goodbye and then ask how someone is doing. Usually shaking hands. Only when someone has answered and asks about you does the conversation begin. In Uganda they barely say goodbye and the question of well-being is not answered. It makes a stiff, unkind impression. I see a parallel. Riding on the road, struggling to get meters ahead, it is literally everyone for themselves and god for us all. That makes people resentful and less tolerant. After moving slowly for kilometers, we also become harder.
Providing service-oriented information is a rarity. It doesn't seem to be in the system. You have to ask everything and then the information obtained is not always correct.
Basically the Ugandans are less egocentric, we experience Lodges & Campings with foreign owners, as I wrote earlier in the blog Misunderstanding and misunderstood. There, the Ugandan African employees are genuinely friendly and helpful.

Death Road
We are now out of Kampala. The traffic infarction continues on the A109, past all villages. Only two lanes wide. Mopeds shoot left and right past the car. Shortly after the oncoming traffic. Passenger vans pass us dangerously. Immediately afterwards you can hit the brakes again to let people out. Oncoming traffic overtake on the center line. A collision on the nick of time is prevented because Onno shoots the narrow sand bank. Where, luckily, just now nobody is walking or cycling. In our minds we see the net go wrong. A pedestrian on the hood. A truck that drills into my side. Or a head-on collision. Horror scenarios; one second earlier or later and it is reality. Doodeng. The first 12 kilometers took more than two hours. It's getting dark already. Cars and mopeds without light are not visible. Or have high beam that blinds us. The current traffic volume can be seen in color on Google Maps. We have the courage. Because on the iPhone, green lines become visible miles away.

Safe haven
We arrive at 21.15 in the morning at the campsite The Haven, owned by a German owner. The name has literally and figuratively meaning for us tonight. The kitchen has since been closed. The nice employee offers to make a chicken sandwich. The crispy home-baked bread with freshly roasted chicken fillet and deliciously seasoned salad tastes delicious. We will not leave here in the coming days. First catch your breath.

10 reply
    • Onno & Ingrid
      Onno & Ingrid says:

      You won't believe it, we just spent five nights near Lake Nakuru, but didn't visit the lake. The weather was not "you like it", and the roads in the park are very muddy. Now you will say, you have a “G” for that, and you are right. However, we were fed up with the rain for a while, and sat down by the fireplace. Something that I think everyone in the Netherlands does as well, there it is again. Tomorrow we will enter the Maasai Mara. The G will be back in the Netherlands at the beginning of April. He yearns for a pet turn 🙂

  1. Jean-Philippe
    Jean-Philippe says:

    I read on your previous post how quickly people are building roads. Hopefully nature can still be protected. Are you going to Kenya now? Greetings. Jean-Philippe

    • Ingrid & Onno
      Ingrid & Onno says:

      The roads are fortunately not built in the Delta but outside of it. The most important part remains protected. But it is frightening to see what the consequences are, and then I am still in the same industry.
      We are indeed in Kenya now, and are still going to the Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo West. Then on to Tanzania.

  2. Annemari
    Annemari says:

    Dear Ingrid and Onno,

    We have an admiration for you.
    Horror in that traffic, I don't think the drivers have a driver's license there.

    Enjoy your rest days,

    Simon and Annemari

    • Ingrid & Onno
      Ingrid & Onno says:

      No idea if they have a driver's license, we have a very creative way to handle the available road.
      In any case, it is wonderful here at the campsite. The weather is a bit unstable, but the temperature and “vibe” are OK.


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