One Week To Go
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up to rolling thunder and sheets of rain again. We are always so thankful that the weather has cooperated with our rest days so well this entire trip. It was a lazy day as the rain kept us from exploring the island on our bikes as we had intended. It’s not lost on us that we will have this ride wrapped up in a week!
Finally around 4 pm, the rain stopped so John went out for a little recovery bike ride. Only a kilometer from where we’re staying is a huge soccer game going on with thousands of fans and tarps lining the outside of the field so that people couldn’t see without paying a 5000 shilling admission (about $1.50). As a result there were many people hanging off trees and standing on top of trucks in order to see the match between this main island (Bugala) and another island. All of the locals knew about it and it was even being broadcasted on the radio. John continued on his ride and on his way back he had to descend a very steep, long, muddy road. On his way down he caught up to a motorcycle (who was taxiing people up and down the hill to the game) and, as per usual, John enjoys a good draft on the downhill so he pulled up closely behind the guy. But when the motorcycle transitioned from a muddy road to 100 feet of broken, wet, slimy pavement, he locked up his rear brake which immediately threw him into a skid to the right. He over-corrected and his boda whipped around to the left, throwing the poor helmet-less driver about twenty feet down the road and his motorcycle went rolling right in front of John. John, of course, feathered his brakes as he saw this unfolding and quickly jumped off his bike to help the fellow. He lifted up his motorcycle for the driver as the guy brushed himself off and climbed out of the ditch. He couldn’t speak English but appeared to be very appreciative to get help with his motorcycle. As John continued back to the lodging, someone walked across the road right in front of him without looking so John had to hit the ditch himself. Thankfully, he kept his bike upright and the fellow apologized. Life continues to move forward in chaotic Africa.
Here are some more questions and answers to those burning questions.
Question: What are you dreaming up as you go along the road as your next challenge?
Answer: Honestly, most of the time I am dreaming up how I am going to finish this challenge! But now that we are close to the finish and I have more confidence in my abilities, I don’t dream about a new challenge as much as I marvel at one’s ability to embrace other future obstacles and work through them. I do find myself thinking about how to make this project sustainable so that the kids can continue their education. That would be a miracle and have a true lasting impact which has always been my goal. Also, because of my work with Martial Arts for Justice, I also dream about starting a program here in Uganda where Gender Based Violence (GBV) is rampant and many women and girls would benefit from our program that pairs self defence training with trauma counselling. On this trip I was reminded in small ways of how often women are treated poorly and left to fight for equality on their own. But I can see great strength in their spirits and have real hope for this country.
Question: What do you do when you have to pee at night? Or are you so tired that you don’t have to get up?
Answer: I don’t usually have to go in the middle of the night, but when I do my main concern is trying not to wake John because he is such a poor sleeper and has a hard time falling back asleep when awoken. For John, the biggest issue seems to be how to not stub his toes on the lip that ALWAYS goes into the bathroom, hitting his head on the lower door frames or slipping on the floor still wet from the bedtime shower. He combats these inconveniences by putting something like a rug or shoes or whatever’s available by the ridge to remind him it’s there or take the hit instead of his toes, hanging a towel or some clothing from the door frame as a visual reminder to duck, and laying a previously-used towel on the bathroom floor to make it non-slippery. So far, his techniques have worked. For the outhouse scenarios, John never makes it that far and usually just pees out the door.
Question: How are you guys sending updates every day and getting wifi?
Answer: Good question. Although we’ve had some accommodations that advertise having free wi-fi for their guests, we have found that it is pretty unpredictable and with intermittent power outages, fairly unreliable. In anticipation of this, I bought a small wi-fi router over here that could be used exclusively by us wherever we went. Truth be told, it’s been very handy, but also seems to work somewhat sporadically. We work together on the blog in our evenings (your mornings). I usually do the first draft and then John adds his awesome story-telling skills and sense of humour and then we choose the day’s photos together. We have appreciated any feedback you’ve been willing to share about our blogs.
Question: What does a normal day look like for a Ugandan family?
Answer: We can only answer this from what we have seen and from no realm of expertise, but I can tell you these people work hard. Because we are on the equator, there are only ever twelve hours of daylight – from 7 to 7. We hear people beginning their days as early as 5 am and finishing as late as 2am. The people who work in the hotels are up early and up late, living in the same place as they work and they get paid very little. In the villages, I would guess that the days start equally as early as parents rouse their children for either school or chores, depending on the economic situation. Every region seems to mange school attendance differently based on the facilities and available resources. Some are day schools and some are boarding schools and many offer both options. It might be a first world assumption that school is a full day from about 9-3, but here there seems to be no standard for time spent in school or the quality of education they receive because all education is based on fees. Students often attend in shifts – as many as maybe three per day. Sometimes we would see students going home as late as 7pm. So although we don’t know the ins and outs of daily life here, we can attest to the work ethic and the fact that they have no time to relax or recreate.
Question: Does John ever question all of the stuff that’s packed on his bike? If he could go back and re-pack for the trip, would he make any changes?
Answer: John tends to be a pretty practical person and so the extra weight is annoying only because of the lack of efficiency and the risk of doing damage to his rims. But fortunately, the extra weight has allowed us to ride together more easily as the extra weight slows him down just a tiny bit.
It is true that he has commented a number of times about how he could have done this trip with a lighter and therefore faster bike. We knew that about half of our gear would hopefully never be used since most of it is for potential emergencies: accidents, sickness, mechanical problems, food preparation and sleeping solutions. We had anticipated the ability and need to camp, but due to the serious lack of safety and the abundance of cheap hotels, some of our camping supplies have also been unnecessary.
Thanks again for all the questions and we have some more to answer for tomorrow. If anything else comes to mind as you read our blogs, please just email us at getschooled50for50