It has been quite a week, during which I became a seasoned driver in Uganda. I set out on Wednesday afternoon wondering quite what I was doing driving the hospital Landcruiser to Ishaka to see my son Calum and his wife Emily who are research associates at the university there. All went well down the first dirt road but the second…well when I saw lorries going sideways in front of me I decided it was time to give up and go the long way round on the tarmac instead. A lorry got stuck in front of me so I had to stop and then I got stuck too, which necessitated a phone call to the hospital to find out how to engage the 4 wheel drive. I was less that thrilled to discover this meant getting out into the mud in order to turn a knob in the axel of the front wheel on both sides. Anyway I made it and managed to get out of the mud, only to find myself surrounded by “helpful” men when I reached the tarmac and stopped to reverse the process on the wheels. The road to Mbarara was truly terrible, most of it has been partly dug up to build the new road which is very slow and the rest had potholes the size of moon craters. I found myself weaving back and forth trying to avoid as many as I could and preserve the car’s suspension and struggling to pass lorries as I went. I have decided I love the M4, even in a jam!
I made it there and back again, had a great evening with Calum and Emily and saw several friends in Mbarara as well. I was so relieved to get the Landcruiser back to the hospital in one piece!
It started to rain on Thursday night and didn’t stop at all on Friday. I went on another outreach clinic to continue my research and felt so sorry for the poor women who walked miles to the clinic through the mud, often with only a cotton wrap and no umbrella. They must have been so cold and wet. Somehow my HellyHansen raincoat seemed to emphasise the enormously privileged life I lead and the unfairness of it all. Life for us in the West is just so very easy, although we tend to forget this often.