The Night Drive, Northern Uganda

The Night Drive, Northern Uganda

Hello from extremely dry, sweltering, windy blowing dirt Northern Uganda. This place reminds me a lot of the Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Area in the dead of summer.  They even get torrential rains like we do, only we have shelters, our homes, to get inside, most here have little protection.

I arrived here after a real strange week of strategy.  We are delivering a mobile bicycle ambulance to an orphanage we work with in the North. We also bought a solar cooker and it was crazy fun to see it work, but it got all disassembled and I’m the one who needs to reassemble it. It is HUGE.

So we arrange for it to go on a truck to Kampala with lots of other cargo. From Kampala the driver is to put it on the bus and then notify us that it is there. From this point we started our journey north from Jinja through Mbale, Soroti, Lira and then Gulu on through Pader to Kitgum. The road was surprisingly different than our last trip out of Gulu. Last time it was horrible with deep potholes and this time the road had been grated most of the way. While grating ridges aren’t ideal, they are much better than dodging the cRaZY potholes. Unfortunately our day started out late and we were on the road after dark. I had thoughts of what it must have been like for all the families and children hiding in this very bush from LRA soldiers coming to abduct them only a few years ago. These very roads, much blood was shed. It was frightening to think about people being ripped out of their beds and slaughtered by the own children with guns forced to their heads. Now that I have friends that are these child soldiers, this reality seemed even more harsh and real.

So we talked and enjoyed sharing how this world here in Uganda evolved through the war and how it managed to end. Farouk enjoys talking (I hope anyway) and I’ve talked his ear off.

Occasionally we slow down at village markets to see what they offer.

Swiftly we are barraged and our car is attacked with people and their food and drink they are selling.   PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME as they shove their things into our car windows.   This photo is of a woman we encountered while trying to find roasted cassava.   We weren’t able to find any that were hot enough for our comfort to eat, so on we went on our trek to the North.

I will admit an eerie feeling going though at night. There are no lights anywhere, and random fires blazing wildly into the dark night. The fires are normal, burning trash gone astray, spark from firewood, but they never put them out, they just let them blaze. I suppose it clears brush and makes room for more fertility of the soil the next go round.

I asked about the fires finally and they are also from hunting they flush out the animals, and sadly, they are also arson fires, just because. So everything being ablaze here in Northern Uganda is not at all to worry about at all…I guess.

It is impossible for me to see on the roads at night.  There is no way I could drive here at night but the Africans seem to have “bush eyes” and “bush ears” it is quite amazing how they can see and hear things like they do.   I don’t see anyone much wearing glasses yet their eyesight is so keen.   I don’t know about this so I’ll have to inquire further.  The intense red clay dirt on the roads keeps the visual to a minimum when someone passes and for pedestrians on the road, they just get covered.  The blowing dust and the dust kicked up on the road when we drive can be seen far ahead, and that is the only way we can know there is a car ahead.   The road isn’t for two cars, we must make a passage for the other vehicle in case they don’t see us or slow down.   This often means our car is sitting at a very steep angle to my side of the car.   Since they drive on the WRONG side of the road here, it is a little disorienting at night with cars and large buses and motorcycles always heading straight for you.

What I know must happen a lot is pedestrians being killed.   In the night especially it would be so easy to hit someone without seeing them.   I am so thankful for Farouk’s expertise in driving and just knowing.  Here the car horn is the most important piece of equipment on the car.

Amazingly there was a full moon during our drive.   I was not able to capture it because it was too unsafe to stop on the road.   Just imagine a beautiful enormous orange moon behind the acacias.

We arrived in Kitgum to learn our usual guest house had no room. So we stayed the first night completely loaded down in the car still, at a new guest house but it certainly will never ever be my pick! I had no toilet seat, my shower was an old washbasin and there was a sign on the door telling me what to do with my used condoms and that if I smoked, the proper authorities would be notified and I’d be dealt with! Glad that one lasted for only one evening.

When we changed guest houses we didn’t have a “contained” room for the first night. This means running to the bathroom at 4 am across the building into the shared toilet and shower area. Finally I’m here at the guest house with a contained room, fan and toilet with a seat.  That’s all I need…and this chair…and this lamp…that’s all I need.  (those of you who are not Steve Martin fans will not get that last part.)

Yes there are other hotels here that are nicer and more accomodations, however since I stay for so long it makes no sense for me to live in complete comfort while those I’m helping are suffering. I cannot do it.

  1. Erin Herman says:

    Great post Lori, your love for this country and its amazing people shines through in your words and pictures. I can picture in my mind the beautiful orange moon hanging in the night sky. My heart is so happy that you are able to be in Uganda doing such needed work. May God continue to bless you and keep you safe on your journey. XOXO Erin

    • Lori says:

      It is really amazing what God allows you to tolerate when you are working hand-in-hand. I don’t have this patience at home. Why? I’m going to work on that. I think I get sucked into our fast paced lifestyle and instant gratification world…There is a certain beauty in all this chaos that is Africa.

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