Let me paint a picture for you of riding in a public taxi in Uganda. I have given you a list of instructions so you can re-create the experience.
1. Find a standard sized mini-van.
2. Break the air conditioner.
3.Remove most of the gas so that when you’re going up-hill the taxi starts to clunk and shake in a most alarming manner.
4. Put a Ugandan man at the wheel-he probably hasn’t had driving lessons. Driving schools here have the most calming ads. “Learn defensive driving techniques-DON’T PLAY CHICKEN WITH TRUCKS AND TRAINS!” I personally would think avoiding driving on train tracks in the first place would be a good lesson as well.
5. Put an 18 year old boy in charge of opening and closing the door and yelling out the window, KAMPALA, KAMPALA!
6. Cram the political science department at BYU into it-there’s about 20 of them right? We had 23 people in a taxi. I am not exaggerating, we counted.
7. Oh yeah; not one of those 23 people has showered recently. Ask me about deodorant.
8. Hahaha deodorant.
9. Place several chickens under your seat. They are very much alive. They do not like being put under the seat. Do you know what it is like having a chicken start flapping and freaking out under your skirt? Oh it is pleasant.
10. Drive at 10 mph to minimize wind flow in the very hot and crowded taxi.
11. Pass people while staring down an on-coming bus. They don’t teach “Don’t play chicken with busses” at the driving schools so you really can’t blame them.
On one trip to Jinja we had all of these lovely experiences. Our taxi took 45 minutes getting out of the taxi park. We switched taxis in Lugazi; our new one leaked. The taxi didn’t have enough gas. It died on the side of the road. We walked for a while before finding a new one. Oh yes, when the taxi broke down there was almost a fist fight when they wouldn’t let us off. Very exciting. Our taxi that picked us up only took us part way to Jinja. We then had a very expensive boda ride.
Our taxi home from Jinja took 50 minutes to fill up with ppl. We spent those 50 minutes tooling around Jinja trying to pick up passengers-they were unsuccessful. It probably didn’t help that I kept trying to gage if I could climb out the window. I tried bribing the guy to let us out. When that didn’t work I started yelling. Finally, the driver started driving us to Mukono. We picked up passengers on the way. I think the driver was afraid I would hit him. It was a possibility. I was also going to try vomiting in the taxi. I feel like they would have let me out after that. Hurray for public transport in Uganda.