Friday, June 02, 2006
Flinstone Brakes and Car Horns
The following is one of several entries from my travels to Uganda. Enjoy.
The first day in Uganda and I am enamored by the driving. From the airport where we arrived we had a 4 hour journey to the western part of the country in a hired taxi. I have had the privilege of seeing many different countries in the world and I have to say that Uganda ranks number one in the craziest drivers. They drive at high speeds, they don’t mind bumping other vehicles or people, and I am sure that they actually wear out their car horns during the course of the car’s life. Our driver maneuvered through traffic, he passed all slow moving vehicles, and he somehow managed to avoid all pedestrians and mo-ped drivers that flood the streets.
The only way to survive while riding in cars in Uganda is to just completely trust you driver. If you are the type of person who stresses with close calls and aggressive driving, you are better off sleeping through the ordeal. If you like to use what my brother and I like to call the “Flinstone Brakes” (you know, the imaginary brakes that passengers sometimes try to engage by slamming their feet on the car floor), then you will certainly be worn out from your journey in the car.
Based on what I observed, I have put together the following tips should you ever have the privilege of driving in Uganda. .
1. Drive fast. You won’t actually get anywhere in a timely fashion but the journey will be more pleasurable and the bumpy roads will seem more like amusement rides.
2. Use your horn. You must honk your horn when you see pedestrians or mo-peds, which are used as taxis. These people will then get out of the road so you don’t have to run them over.
3. Don’t slow down for people who ignore number 2. They have to learn the hard way.
4. Watch for random speed bumps. Even though you do not slow down for other people, you will find some large speed bumps in random villages. Slow down for these or you might leave your transmission behind.
5. Do not modify your driving on narrow, dirt roads. Just because you may be in a small car and you may find yourself on what looks like an off-roading course, rules 1-4 still apply.
6. Stop for fuel often but only put in 3-6 liters (or 1-2 gallons) at a time. I’m not sure why but just do it.
7. Leave your windows down even if it rains.
8. Keep a plastic bag in the car in case passengers get car sick (apparently all taxis do this).
9. Don’t worry about any traffic laws but always wear your seatbelt. The police are actually strict about the seatbelt.
Posted by Ryan Rosenbaum