Boda or bus, mzungu?

Transportation is probably one of the most dangerous aspects of life in Africa. Pedestrians share the roads with buses, motorcycles and bicycles piled high with bananas, and trucks honking and maneuvering through the crowd. (A friend told me, with only some hyperbole, that the driver has to pay the hospital bills if they hit someone, so they’re more likely to hit you twice, to kill you.)

Oseka Ki – Mesach Semakula

The motorcycles are called boda-bodas, and are a convenient, if slightly more dangerous, version of a taxi. Young men hang out at informal boda-boda stands, where you can negotiate a price before climbing on the back of the bike. (They usually try to raise the price for foreigners — i.e. white people — who don’t know any better.) Most of the time, hailing one isn’t even necessary, as there are constantly men on motorcycles pulling up and saying “Yes! Sister! Boda!”

Of course, Stevie’s site is too far for boda travel — she lives in a rural part of the West Nile region. To get there, we first took an 8-hour bus ride north to Arua. As we sped past bicycles and army vehicles, the bus’s horn (which was like an elephant playing a trombone) would occasionally sound and the bus would swerve and sway dangerously. I was grateful to not be near the front.

Arua car park, and a big, beautiful African sky.

Arua car park, and a big, beautiful African sky.

From Arua, it was a bumpy 3-hour ride in a pick-up truck over dirt roads to the village of Warr. The cargo bed was filled with luggage and deliveries, and on top of everything were perched some people paying for a ride, too. Children ran to the road at the sound of the engine so they could see the truck go by, and waved at us with delight to see such strange-looking people in the front.

Eddie & The Showmen – Far Away Places


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