Oh yes, much drama can happen in a Ugandan parking lot.
Let me set the scene. It’s about 10pm. We had just finished dinner at a super yummy but hopping place called Bamboo Nest. Music was boom booming from the restaurant. The street around the place is alive with cars, bodas, pedestrians, merchants, etc. Parking around the restaurant is scarce and there is a lot of competition for the parking spots right in front of the restaurant. Normal parking rules we follow here in the US aren’t followed there. For example, cars may park 2 or 3 deep in one parking spot. So if you’re the car on the inside, you’re stuck. There is no such thing as allowing space between cars. So you might have a car parked so close to you on both sides you can’t even get your arms in to open your door. Yeah, its interesting to say the least.
We got back to the car and saw that there was a Land Cruiser parked in front of us. There was a small space where you could get to the the drivers side door. Unfortunately, the drivers side door handle was missing. So we couldn’t open the door. The new Mercedes on the passenger side of the car was parked so close you couldn’t open the door. We stood around for a minute trying to think of a way to get into the car. We opened the trunk and tried to fold the seats down to see if we could climb in that way. Nope. We tried to work what was left of the car handle to see if we could pop the door open. Nope. After about 20 minutes of humming and hawing someone went to get the manager of the restaurant. He came and took a look at the situation. He went and made an announcement over the intercom that people needed to move cars. The owner of the Land Cruiser came out right away. He moved his car to the street and sat there waiting for us to move so he could have our spot. But the owner of the Mercedes didnt show.
If we could get in the car, we could get out. But we couldn’t get in the car. A crowd started to gather as we’ve now been trying to get in the car for about 45 minutes. Over and over various people are trying to get the doors open. People start talking about cracking open a window. They keep trying to get in through the trunk. The situation is so ridiculous it was funny at first, but its getting later and later. The owner goes and announces again that we need the owner of the Mercedes. Still nothing. Then one of the bouncer/security guard guys announce that they think the Mercedes has been there since morning and that the owner wasn’t in the building. That seemed to put our driver/friend over the edge and he decided to try to PICK UP the car.
When the other men standing around saw that he wanted to pick up the car they came to help lift. Everyone gathers in front of the car and tries to lift. Nothing. They try again. Nothing. The man in the Land Cruiser stuck his head out the window and yelled “lift it from the back!”. So everyone moved to the rear of the car.
1, 2, 3, LIFT! Movement! A half an inch further away from the Mercedes. Over and over again, 1, 2, 3, LIFT! Tiny bit by tiny bit the car started moving to the side!
FINALLY someone was able to SQUEEZE between the Mercedes and our car to get the door open. Cheers erupt from all of us and the spectators. Success!
We start to climb in the car when a man walks up and protectively puts his hand on the Mercedes. The cars owner. Inside having a drink this whole time. He looks it over carefully to make sure we didn’t leave any scratches, we wave to all of our helpers and are on our way.
Yes, it’s always an adventure in Uganda. Even in a parking lot.