uganda: our first few days / by Maranie Staab

today, december 5th 2014, we traveled by van from our accommodations in entebbe to the town of soroti located some 325 km northeast of our origin. (it is going on 1AM now and we are here for a wedding that is to take place tomorrow) a distance that normally takes under 5 hours to cover took us upwards of 9 hours due to christmas traffic (as explained to us by our driver, vincent, most people were out and about due to the holiday season) and unforeseen road construction (one town had decided to tear up all of their "roads" for repair at the same time resulting in nothing short of a chaotic, if not exciting traffic mess. there is simply no way to properly explain ugandan driving as there seems to be very little method to the madness. to start, driving takes place on the opposite side of the road and the driver of the vehicle is also on the opposite side (opposite to us at least), but the real chaos is in the lack of street lines, laws, the pedestrians walking between, among and in front of the cars, the mopeds competing for space with the giant trucks and the potholes and “speed bumps” that split the real estate of the dirt/clay roads. I believe we were on one stretch of paved road over the course of the entire day; aside from that short stint it was traffic at a near standstill pace mixed with racing throughout small villages and towns before hitting another stoppage.

packed into a van driven by vincent (our trusted, ugandan driver) myself, Mary, Susan, Alice and a wonderful couple (documentary filmmakers) that joined us this morning spent much of the day staring out the van windows taking in the sights, sounds and beauty that surrounded us. 
even though we did little more than sit in a van it's impossible to articulate all that was seen and experienced; for me, the time in uganda so far has been sensory overload in the best of ways as each sight, sound and person is new and interesting. 

a few highlights from today include crossing the nile river, stopping for lunch in Mbale at a small but very enjoyable Indian restaurant and meeting our new friends Mwita and Monica. all of that said, my favorite moments were during the few times that we got out of the van to stretch or eat and i was able to talk to some of the street children and take their photos. unlike some places i have been the children wanted their photos taken and were thrilled to be able to see the images after they had been taken. for some, i imagine, it was the first time that they had ever seen a photo of themselves. 

below are a few images from today. most were taken from either the moving van or during the few moment when we stepped outside en route from entebbe to soroti. more to come.

 

note: all images below are cropped to fit within the grid. please click on the individual image in order to view entire photo.