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Monday, June 1, 2009

Winding Roads and Speed Bumps

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple of days, it’s that you should add at least two hours to your estimated arrival time when you travel in Uganda.

Our day began with some hasty packing and running around…we weren’t sure as to our exact departure time thanks to our bus having to rotate some tires. We arrived at MUBS for our 10 am breakfast. After that, we waited…waited…went shopping across the street…waited…celebrated Kelsey’s 20th birthday with some cake and balloons…and waited. We finally left for Mbarara at 1:30 pm, a mere three hours after our scheduled departure.

The road to Mbarara was bumpy and slow, thanks to speed bumps that are cordially placed about every 100 feet in the roads…I have yet to get a good answer as to why they do this. Oh, and the potholes are about the size of a grown gorilla. Thankfully (and miraculously) we never got stuck in one.

After an eight hour trip (it was supposed to be six) we arrived at Lakeview Hotel in Mbarara at 9:30 pm, tired as ever. Most of us immediately ran straight to our beds, hoping for some plush beauty sleep. Instead, we were welcomed by mattresses that felt like nailed together two-by-fours.

All in all, though, the Lakeview Resort is a great place, complete with swimming pool, a spa, a bar and some great food. It will be nice having this place as our home for the next few nights.

But going back to the whole question of the more laid-back culture in Uganda…has this been a refreshment from our fast-paced and schedule-driven American lives, or are you frustrated by the seemingly lax schedules that Ugandans have?


  1. Wow, they lax schedules drive me almost crazy. Growing up with my parents we were always early and not having a strict structure schedule is hard to get used to. In the states things have time tables, and not being on time could have some hard consequences. Though, I need to learn not to worry so much and go with it.

  2. I don't know 6 hours of straight down time just gives me alot of time to think about of the people and things back home and get home sick. I don't know I kind of prefer my western high pace, overstimulating, redbull, heart risk increasing lifestyle. Relaxing is nice but 6 hours is a really long time.

    Props to the bus driver. He is the best bus driver EVER!!! The guy can drive that thing anywhere through any condition.

  3. After having traveled to a few places around the world I've developed a sense of what some people, who live on island nations, call "island time." Island time is a sense of relaxation and enjoying the time that you have. Meaning chill out because things are going to take some time. This is a much more difficult concept to take advantage of when you're not on an island. For the first few days that we were in Uganda things were moving rather smoothly. And then we started to travel more and more. The further we were traveling the more we ended up being off schedule. Living in a fast paced American society being off time in any way was, and still is, a difficult thing for me to get use to. However, it's something that I've been working on.

    The ride to Mbarra on Sunday was interesting to say the least. In the states we're use to having a pot hole in the road every once in a long while. And when we do see them they're usually covered up in a timely manner. Here it's the complete opposite. There's a pot hole every 5 feet and sometimes, in really bad spots, there are consecutive pot holes for 100 feet. This creates a rather disturbing ride. For a little bit it was fun, and then it quickly became quite literally painful. Kind of like a roller coaster, the first few times you ride it it's fun...every time after that it becomes increasingly boring. Moral of the story, the roads need some serious TLC.

    To start off I would suggest that the government of Uganda make the investment to repair the roads to a more drivable condition. Second, I think they should expand their road systems to help trade. I think this would help trade around Uganda exponentially because people would simply be more willing to travel on them, the number of car repairs would go down, and time taken to travel from place to place would decrease.

  4. Jess, I definitely agree with your post. Here, in Uganda, we need to be prepared to arrive one to hour to three hours later than what we expect. It is clear that Uganda has a more laid-back culture than we do in the US. Back home, I have a rigorous schedule. I have to use a post it note and cross off my activities as I complete them. I am more stressed out back home and consumed by time. Here, I am more relaxed. I have the mindset that this is one of the only times I will be in Africa and every minute really counts. A few more hours on the bus ride just means more time to watch out my window at the scenes as we pass. A few more young children to see who are jumping up and down and greeting us as we pass by. I enjoy these bus rides (for the most part). And a lot of the bumps make me laugh, the occasional really big bump reminds of a roller-coaster. And today, I learned that I have the ability to sleep on these drives. Great. Austin got a pretty good video of my head swaying back and forth as we hit large speed bumps. Oh well! Guess I just needed some sleep.

  5. The bus rides do tend to get frustrating, especially when trying to write in your journal. I have learned that the bus rides are the best times to reflect on the day and collect my thoughts. It also allows me to look at the amazing view out the window. I am a very scheduled person and need to know exactly what I am doing during the day and what time everything is. I have come to accept that the roads are bad and that we are not going to get somewhere at the expected time. We have even made a game out of it and guess the times at which we think we will arrive to our destination:) Although it is frustrating that it takes a lot longer to get places than it should, I try to make the most out of it.

  6. Great question, Jess. We as Americans are known for our quick paced-culture and our obsession with being on time, or even being early. It is something that is normally engrained into us at an early age. And, yes it is nice to take those vacations when you are more laid back and dont have to worry about being on time. But, then after a couple days of R&R, you are ready to get back to the fast-paced American culture.

    Personally, this laid back lifestyle is driving me nuts. I am not a patient person by any means so all of this waiting, being delayed, and arriving 2-3 hours after we are suppose to is driving me up the wall. But, I will say I am learning that not every culture functions like America does and can now see why the rest of the world may view us as the Rude Americans.

    Cant wait to get back to the States!!!

  7. It is definitely a change to come from America to Uganda. In America everyone has a schedule or routine that they follow and maintain. Whereas in Uganda as Jess said it is more laid back. Though part of me is jealous that Ugandans have that life I sometimes miss a timely schedule. I have been trying to get used to it but it is hard coming from such a set schedule.

  8. I never knew this before Uganda, but I HATE laid back schedules. I like accountability. To be honest, I think that some of America's success is owed to our adherence to schedules. It is unacceptable to be continually late and is frowned upon. I like it that way. I like that buses will depart when they said they would. I like that I can trust a man's word at home.