Last week Titus and I (Mark) went to Kampala to renew my passport at the Embassy. I also needed a new battery for our car, so I asked one of our mechanics where we could find one in the city. After stopping at the embassy, we headed toward the part of town where we might find the auto store.
Our challenges began when we came upon a stoplight where the police were not allowing vehicles to move from our direction. I eventually turned off the car, as many others had done while we waited for 15 minutes. I'm sure they had a good reason to hold us up, but we never saw what it was.
The auto store was on a one way street where we had never been. So we had to navigate through a market area to reach the far end of the street, not knowing exactly where on that street the store was located. En route, we ended up winding through narrow streets, avoiding masses of people, bicycles, parked cars and even a huge pool of muddy water that would have swallowed us whole had we not been in a 4WD! I have never seen so many people in one place in this country.
Titus was being great, but the congestion was wearing on us and it became increasingly difficult to figure out where we were on the map. Abandoning all hope of finding the street, much less the auto store, we turned our efforts towards finding a way of escape from this part of the city. We were obviously in the central market and taxi park area. Choices ranged between sitting in traffic vs. driving away from the direction we wanted to go. Which object will move first - the disabled man in a wheelchair bike or the huge bus sitting inches to his left? Would we prefer a faster route of escape behind the truck belching black exhaust, or the "cleaner air" behind the immobile fruit cart?
Twisting this way, then that way, we ended up at a complete standstill behind some taxi vans. Taxis usually have ways of navigating around anything, so I had followed the flow of traffic with them. After sending a text message to Amy asking her to pray that we would be released from this black hole in central Kampala, a man walked up and told us that we were sitting in the line to enter the main taxi park in the middle of the city - that is why we weren't moving. The lane of traffic on our right was moving only slightly faster than we who were totally parked, but another man began directing us to move to that lane. We had to go forward and back by inches, literally, because the traffic was so tight all around us. Finally we got a nose into the other lane and they stopped a bus (a miraculous feat by itself) to let us ease into the right lane.
After creeping along with less and less leeway between the vans on our left and the sidewalk posts on our right (in fact, we left the bus behind because he was too wide to make it through) we finally broke into the open road beyond the taxi park. No sooner had we managed this, then I looked up and... Lo and behold, there was the auto store we were looking for!! I pulled into an open parking space on the street and we went in an got our battery. Success!
Only by the grace of God. I say it again, "Only by the grace of God."