The morning started well. A gentle breeze wafted the curtains in our bedroom and we enjoyed waking up a little bit later than normal. The reason? We had to take a trip to Face Recognition, in order to convert our UK driving licenses to Ugandan permits and so we had to wait for the office to open.
It should have been relatively straightforward. We’d already had our eye checks, paid the first bill and filled in all the forms. The traffic was relatively light on our way in and soon enough we were walking through the security check and working through our forms with a lady at the customer services desk. Everything was going according to plan.
After our initial check we went to queue up at the second station (of four) where our fingerprints, photos and signatures would be taken. Dave’s data collection progressed fine, and then it was my turn. “How old were you when you got your license the first time?” “I was 17.” “Oh… Please go back to the first counter again, and take him with you.”
It turns out you need to be 18 in Uganda in order to apply for a driving license, and therefore the system can’t handle the fact that we were both 17 when we first started driving in the UK. And so, we left Face Recognition, and drove back through the traffic which was now significantly worse! We queued. We inched our way forward. We admired the wares of the many people selling chewing gum, boots, wallets and more as they threaded their way through the cars. Finally, we made it back to the MAF office.
It turns out we’ll likely need to cross the city twice more, the first time to collect our learners permits, and then to convert them to full driving permits. It’ll cost four times as much, as we need to apply for our learners permits, then pay for test fees (for a test we don’t need to take) and finally for a full permit application. There will also be two more trips battling with the traffic in the centre of Kampala.
Paperwork problems are a relatively frequent occurrence here.
In a week where I’ve already been to collect curtains I was assured would be completed, which weren’t, and have done significant battle with the many cars and thousands of motorbikes of the streets of Kampala, I’ve found my patience strained! Twice I’ve crossed the city and have been thwarted in achieving what I planned to achieve.
I am gradually learning the importance of flexibility in living here in Uganda. Some days simply don’t go as planned, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve achieved less this week than I’d planned, but that doesn’t mean I’ve failed, only that I’ll need to rethink the next few days. It’s easy to feel frustrated when battling with unexpected delays and problems which are no fault of your own, but through it all I am learning to lean more fully on Jesus. I am starting to recognise the things that really matter, and those things which make little difference to our purpose here, as annoying as they may seem at the time. It’s a lesson I’m still learning, and I’m sure I’ll spend many more days glaring at the unmoving traffic and thinking of all those things I was planning to do, but I’ll get there!