Tag Archives: Car trouble

This Is Not Good

I am not allowed to drive in Uganda. I am under strict orders from multiple people not to get behind the wheel. So, how do I get around? We’ve hired a car and driver. The driver’s name is Alex. I have yet to come up with a name for the car. Alex has been great! He doesn’t mind picking Steve and me up at 6:30 AM to beat the Kampala traffic, or driving us to farms outside the city and waiting for hours to drive us back to where we stay. He dodges Boda Bodas (motorcycle taxis), bicycles and whatever they may be carrying (people, lumber, bananas, easy chairs, etc.) as well as potholes, kids on roller blades, and livestock. He is the unfortunate and patient subject of friendly interrogation from me. Today, he picked me up from Randy and Judy’s (after a week at a guesthouse, I’m back at my lovely Canadian hosts’ house) and we were headed to pick Steve up at the guesthouse. Randy was driving just in front of us. On our way up a hill, the car died and started slowly rolling back down. Alex stopped the car and tried unsuccessfully to get it running again. I was being overly helpful.

“Well, it can’t be the battery, because the radio is working…and the starter seems to be fine…”

Alex said, “this is not good.”

“It seemed fine just a minute ago…”

Alex said, “it’s telling me it is out of fuel. This is not good.”

“Oh, well that’s simple. We can call someone or we can walk. Do you have a jerrican in the trunk?”

Alex said, “this is not good.”

“Here, I have Randy’s number. Can you call him?”

Alex said, “this is not good.”

Luckily, Randy realized we were no longer right behind him and he turned around to see what had happened. He drove us to a nearby gas station with Alex’s fuel can and then drove me to the guesthouse. Alex picked Steve and me up there after taking a Boda Boda back to put the petrol in the tank. Alex thinks he was cheated by a gas station attendant and that he should have had more fuel than he did, but he only paid for 10,000 Ugandan shillings worth of gasoline (which buys less than a gallon). No harm done – we got to our destinations and we still didn’t have to deal with traffic because today is a public holiday in Uganda (Martyr’s Day).

Alex seemed to be fine for the rest of the day. He waited patiently while I helped deworm goats and made an inventory spreadsheet for supplies at the goat farm. He got to take a nap in the car while he waited, after his laptop battery died. Just remember, whenever you’ve just purchased 10,000 shillings worth of petrol and your car dies going up a hill, it is not good.