FRM News

John Eastham learns how to drive in Uganda

| FRM News

We moved to Uganda about two weeks ago.  So I need to learn how to drive here.  My first time driving was essentially only around the block a few times.  The drive helped me become familiar with driving on the other side of the road, shifting gears with my left hand, etc.

My second time to drive was also around the neighborhood.  While on one of these residential roads my car was a little close to the road’s edge, and I nearly hit two pedestrian schoolgirls.  They screamed and jumped out of the way.

A few minutes later I was also a bit close to the road’s edge.  My wife advised, “Watch out for the ditch.”  Before I could move the steering wheel my left tire slipped into that very ditch.  There was a loud “thud” sound.  The tire was out of the ditch as fast as we had entered it, but my family was unnerved.  My family now had little confidence in my Uganda driving abilities.

I figured the worst was behind me so I decided to push my limits and actually drive out of the residential area.  This was against my wife’s wishes.  I should have listened to her.  I decided to use a turn lane to make a right turn onto a four lane road.  I really thought I could make the turn.  Before I knew it, there were five or six cars stopped and facing me.  All of them were honking.  I had accidentally tried to drive the wrong direction in a turn lane.  I had snarled traffic at a big intersection.  Oops.  I saw a Ugandan traffic policeman in my rearview mirror.  Thankfully he was only waving me to back up (rather than approaching my car to give me a ticket).  I backed out of the mess I created and immediately saw two large traffic signs which meant “do not drive in this direction.”  Oops.  I should have seen those.  I then sped off in the proper direction.  My family now had no confidence in my Uganda driving abilities.

I was happy to finish this Uganda driving attempt and get back to the relative serenity of the FRM guest house.  I got back into our residential neighborhood as soon as I could.  The guest house has a steep driveway with a retaining wall on each side.  In driving in, I misjudged the driveway and retaining wall.  I drove in too fast and at a bad angle.  I ended up putting my right front tire on the retaining wall.  But because I had driven so far on the retaining wall, my left front tire was hanging in the air about a foot above the driveway.  I was in a precarious position.  I tried to back the car out, but the car ended up sliding forward.  If I had slid forward any more, I’d likely slam the car into the guesthouse’s security wall.  I am indebted to the security guard who suggested that I back out by setting the parking break, rev the engine, and then release the brake.  It worked.  I then drove into the guesthouse compound and parked by car.  I don’t know what my wife and kids were thinking about my driving abilities, but it could not have been good.  All of them were very quiet and avoided eye contact with me.

Yesterday I got in the car again and drove to a driving school.  Yes, I signed up for a driving class.

Wanna go for a spin?

John Eastham

(new missionary to Uganda)