I have always loved riding on boda-bodas – the humble motorbike that serves as the main form of taxi transport for short distances in Uganda.
There is of course a lot of negatives about this form of transport, top on the list being the amount of accidents that happen every day, due to terrible driving, hazardous roads and conditions, lack of helmets and protective gear, and also the decision making (whether effected by some form of drug or not) of your chosen chauffeur. I don’t take bodas (unless there is no other choice) in Kampala, but up-country, where the roads are quieter and you can befriend and loyally use the same boda’s daily – it is my main form of transport (except when I am with my son – no bodas for him!).
The freedom that comes from sitting (side-saddle for me) on the back of a bike with the breeze in your hair is unparalleled in my humble opinion. It was one of my favourite things about working in communities in Kamwenge: at the end of a long day in the village, riding on the back of a friend’s boda-boda along a dirt track, the sky hazy with the sun’s disappearing rays and the smoke from the evening cooking fires in the village, the hum of the boda not quite drowning out the birds evening calls.
I have tried being in the driver’s seat of the motorbike – a colleague in Kamwenge was giving me lessons for a while, and I managed a few rides around the place. But I didn’t enjoy all the concentration required to ride the bike myself.
So now, enter the new me, in Fort Portal. I am tired. We are starting up MH again. Motherhood is relentless (and rewarding and amazing and all of the good stuff that gets written about… ) There is rarely time to myself. There is a lot to process and much change happening in my life. And there are no grandparents here to look after my child for the day if I need a break. I have always had a tough time knowing how to switch off my brain and adding motherhood to this mix has made for an interesting journey over the past year in Australia. Even more interesting now I am here.
But lately, it has become almost a daily ritual to go to town in the late afternoon, to buy food we need for dinner from the market while Michael stays at home with David. I normally catch a boda. And for the five minutes to and from the market that I am on that boda, there is nothing else to do. No child to be responsible for. No list to write or action. No need to concentrate on anything in particular.
So I look. I breathe. I listen. To what’s around me – trees and birds and people and the sun setting over the Rwenzori mountains. And to whats within me – my fears and prayers and reflections on what’s good.
And with that comes some clarity and a little pause from the pandemonium of life.