Riding my first Boda-Boda

Rudi left for Kenya today. Since he’s with the CFU team he had scheduled his vacation (a three day safari trip in maisa mara) ahead of time because this was the week that the students were going to take two days out of to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Unfortunately the original schedule was completely blown to bits due to the late arrival of the container. And unfortunately he is going to miss the grand opening tomorrow because of it. Don’t worry, Rudi…I’ll take a lot of photos!

In other news…I rode my first boda-boda today!


Boda-bodas are these motorcycles that you see all over Uganda weaving in between the cars, going through the ditches, and generally causing all sorts havoc in the traffic (they are not as bad as matatus though).


People here use boda-bodas to get to places fast when there’s a lot of traffic, but if there’s no rush it’s better to use a matatu—unless you have a death wish. They are called boda-bodas because they were the vehicles that people used primarily to sneak across the border to get away from Uganda during Idi Amin’s reign.

Anyway, although I don’t have any death wishes that I’m aware of, I was certainly in a rush today. When we got to InterConnection Uganda at 7:45 am I realized that my contact had fallen out and since I’m nearly blind there was no way I could get any work done, especially since we were planning to stay very late today to get the center ready for the grand opening tomorrow. Added to that, Fredrik wanted to go with me to meet someone from the Garameen Foundation today to discuss his idea about cellphones and data collection, and we needed to leave by 9:00 am. So I jumped in a matatu and headed back to Johnorable’s house. Unfortunately the matatu line stops 15 minutes away from my destination. I reached the stopping point at around 8:25 and thought that I had enough time to jog to his house, no boda-boda needed. I got to John’s house a few minutes later, got my contacts in, changed into a little more formal business attire (I had forgotten completely about the meeting this morning…oops), and left at 8:45. Shoot. Fifteen minutes left…there’s no way I can wait for a matatu to arrive at the stopping point. So I ran to the street yelled “Boda!” The boda-boda stopped immediately.

“Where do you want to go?”

“The taxi park.”

“1,000 shillings.” That is so overpriced, but I didn’t have time to argue so I hopped on.

Oh my goodness, that was a scary experience. Johnorable, I hope you aren’t reading this. Anyway, I got to taxi park five minutes later (considerably less time than the matatu) and grabbed a matatu heading to InterConnection immediately. Whew. I managed to get back exactly at 9:00 am, and Fredrik and I departed for our meeting.

We met with the Garameen Foundation man at MTN’s Village Phone office. We talked for a while, but it seemed to us that the project they were working on (somewhat similar to what we were trying to pull off) was not really off the ground too much. Anyway, contact information was exchanged and we left to take a look at one of InterConnection Uganda’s first potential big clients—a data entry business called International Data Solutions. Very interesting place. The company had only a few machines at the moment, which the employees were using to convert handwritten things (in this case it was a very early U.S. Census) into digital information.

After all that we headed back to InterConnection where we made the final, last-minute preparations for tomorrow. It’s going to be absolutely insane.

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