Yes….. it finally happened….. I was given the keys to a land cruiser to use as the clinic vehicle and for my personal use. It has taken a long time but there have been many bumps on the road to getting this vehicle. It is an automatic which is not the best vehicle to use for going on safaris into the outlying villages for vaccination and immunization clinics.

Nevertheless, I was given the keys on Tuesday afternoon…… I was now going to be responsible for my own transportation…….. and the first inaugural trip was to drive the land cruiser from Kibaale to Masaka on Thursday afternoon for the Easter long weekend. I was going to drive myself…….. well, that is what I was expecting to do.

In the beginning, when I first arrived in Kibaale…..I had numerous individuals from the clinic staff to some of the students to a few of the teachers ask me why I did not have a vehicle. They all expected me to have a truck or some sort of vehicle to drive…. but since I did not get any “mode of transportation” they stopped asking. So, it was interesting to me the fact the land cruiser was parked in front of my house and no one asked any questions……..

Thursday morning, I was busying packing up all the things I needed to take…. from my new laptop computer to my camera, clothes and the tons of paper work which still needed to be done….. when my housekeeper asked me how I was going to Masaka. I told her I would be driving the land cruiser, that is why it was left behind. Within minutes of me arriving at the clinic….. I had three people ask me for a ride. One wanted to go all the way to Masaka, another to a village only a few miles down the road and the other to a village half way in between…..those requesting rides were clinic staff. I was not going to be traveling alone after all.

Since I was now the driver and totally responsible for the vehicle and my passengers…. I was encouraged to leave early. I have been informed that it is not acceptable to travel after dark as it is far too dangerous. So, my plans were to leave around 3:30… takes about 1 1/2 hours to travel from Kibaale to Masaka. The clinic offically closes at 5 pm. but due to the heavy rains that morning, I was hoping it was going to be a quiet day. I reminded those traveling with me that I was leaving as soon as the clinic was quiet and the work was done……………… but this is Africa.

One person was ready when the clinic was quiet and all the work was done but the other two were not ready at all……. I waited for over an hour for one person who told me she would be back in 5 minutes and I finally gave up on the other….. I learned a very valuable lesson…. set a time and depart with or without those people requesting rides.

The route I took was new to my passengers but I had driven it once before on my first driving lesson….. so it was not so unfamiliar but then that time I had a teacher, Mark giving me encouragement and support. Thursday, I was on my own….

I kept talking to myself quietly………. kept to the left,…….. kept to the left….. now driving on these narrow dirt roads it is not important to kept to the left but stay in the middle of the road to ensure you do not hit anything. Once I got off the dirt road and on to the paved road …. the line in the middle reminded me of what I was suppose to do….. it was the turns which made me think more than once……. as repeated kept to the left.

The journey was uneventful…. except I forgot to turn off and take the short cut to the Timothy Centre…. I was surprised that I was in Masaka so quickly. It felt like I had only been traveling for a few minutes when in fact I had been driving for almost two hours. As I passed the turn off, I did not know what to do….. it is not like my tiny Mazda Miada in Canada which will turn on a dime so to speak…. this was a large heavy duty land cruiser. I had no choice but to go to the top of the road and turn right across traffic and travel up a main road before I could find a way to turn around…… all the time, I was thinking…. kept to the left…. kept to the left.

I was back at what I thought was the turn off to the Timothy Centre when I started to wonder if I was on the right road…. it did not familiar to me in some spots but in others it looked to be the correct path…… I kept praying, hoping I was not lost………. I did not want to have to call and say I was lost when I was so close…..finally the road came to where I had to turn…. and all of a sudden everything looked familiar….. there are no road signs…. and I was not sure anyone would understand me if I asked for directions.

My mind was full of excitment….. I was finally back at the Timothy Centre and I did it on my own…. so to speak…… I turned up the road which leads to the centre expecting the gates to be closed……. but just as I was approaching the gates, the security guards swung them open…… well, in truth they opened the gates because they know the sound of the vehicle…. they got a surprise at seeing me behind the wheel.