By Curtis K. Shelburne
My wife and I rolled into our driveway late last night. Some sleepy cargo
rested in the seats behind us—two sons fresh off the last plane that had
flown them home from Uganda, jet-lagged and weary, out cold.
If you’re tired enough, you can sleep almost anywhere. But Stephan and
Josh said that sleeping in a mini-van rolling down an American highway was
In Uganda they have what passes for roads. A few stretches you could even
call highways. A very few stretches are pretty nice.
But even the roads between cities, roads that are actually paved, usually
come complete with potholes that could easily capsize a Sherman tank.
To get the full picture, you need to add in a few factors.
You drive on the left side of the road (mostly).
You drive in vehicles whose steering wheels are on the right side of the
You drive on roads with other vehicles stacked so completely full of
people and cargo that you’d think any number of them might be individual
contenders for a Guinness Book of World Records entry. “Taxis,” large vans
designed to hold, say, 16-18 people, routinely hold thirty. And, by
western standards, the taxi drivers are insane.
Large trucks ramble down the roads, sharing the byways with smaller
vehicles. But the roads are so bad, and the trucks so mistreated,
misaligned, patched up, and whomper-jawed, that it’s also something for
the record books if the back end of the truck follows less than a foot out
of line with the front.
A breakneck speed is, say, 45-50 mph (whatever that would be in kilometers
per hour), and in that setting, such a speed is utterly insane. Vehicles
are indeed supposed to drive on the left, but if a stretch of the road has
fewer potholes, crags, and crevices on the right, drivers think nothing of
careening down the road on the “wrong” side for as long as they wish. What
makes this plan particularly dicey is that the roads are so dusty that any
vehicle kicks up billows of thick dust that effectively blinds the
vehicles around him, including those that may be traveling fast on the
wrong side of the road.
Did I mention that most of these vehicles are loaded sky high with people,
produce, animals, and anything else that could possibly be stacked up?
Did I mention that often alongside the roads are scads of pedestrians
walking with about as much safety-consciousness as the taxi drivers
careening down the road right beside them? (Remember the smokescreen of
Stephan & Josh grew up traveling our roads in the States, but now they
find them amazing.
The fact is, all of the roads we travel in this fallen world hold some
inherent dangers. What’s important is that we travel along them hand in
hand with our Lord who is the Way.