Rest and Randomness
We woke up to loud rolling thunder and pounding rain this morning and I can’t tell you how nice it was to smile, roll over and go back to sleep.
We figured last night that we have ridden about 608 miles (980 kms) so far in our fourteen days of riding. That means we are theoretically half way!! We continue to make further adjustments to our original route, right now wanting to avoid getting too close to the Congo because of the recent Ebola outbreak and heightened US Embassy security alerts. Plus we did some research today and found another route that includes natural hot springs and waterfalls that we don’t want to miss. I’m happy that I’m completely over the pressure of following someone else’s route and now love the freedom of adjusting it and making it our own.
We took some time today to think back on our trip so far and just make a list of some things that epitomize the randomness and beautiful chaos that is Uganda. We thought it might be interesting for some of you. If you have been to East Africa, you will know exactly what I’m talking about and shake your head in amusement as you reminisce.
Most of our hotel bathrooms have had a urinal cake in the sink – it smells so strong that it keeps me awake at night sometimes. Ew.
The showers do not have doors or curtains and virtually take up the entire bathroom and the water gets everywhere including the toilet paper, the toilet seat and your clothes if you brought them in with you. If you decide to use the flip flops readily available to keep your feet clean, you slip and slide all over the place and have to work hard to avoid falling and smashing your head on the sink or toilet. It also means having wet feet when you get back in bed after a midnight pee.
Random sights from various days include:
A cow taking a drink out of a pothole completely unconcerned about the lorry heading his way.
Guys riding bikes with huge displays of watches and sunglasses or piles of brilliantly-coloured fabric piled high on their heads seemingly in the middle of nowhere heading off to sell their wares to who knows who.
Guys slaughtering goats right on the side of the highway.
Signs that are written in English that are just slightly off, like God Trusts Hair Salon and the Get In Restaurant next to the Happy Hour Restaurant and the brightly coloured store called Gaming Industries that sells wooden beds.
Many shops advertise having Coke or Pepsi but don’t have anything of the sort. We have stopped many times thinking we could get a drink, only to find there is nothing to buy but maybe some flour. Or nothing.
If you’ve travelled anywhere in Easy Africa, you know that menus serve as more of ‘wish list.’ Rarely does the establishment have what’s on the menu and if they do, you still have to keep your expectations in check. One menu had pictures of tacos along the bottom of every page, but they didn’t have anything even resembling a taco on the menu. Only pork and fish.
One thing I hadn’t seen before, but we have seen it here almost every day is food drying on the shoulder of the roads so you have to swerve to miss it or risk ruining the drying peanuts or cassava root.
As you would expect, most people are farmers and need to sell their wares. But what is unusual and a great example of the honesty of the Ugandans is that many people just leave their harvest of fruit or vegetables piled up along side of the road for sale, but unattended.
Yesterday I witnessed overloaded sugar cane trucks being passed by two white sports cars in the red dust. What the?!
Because we are riding through many farming communities, we often pass groups of young adults. Yesterday we saw a group of eight men wielding machetes and as we approached they spread across the road. In our culture this might be a group of people to avoid. Young men – heavily muscled, looking upset, carrying foot-long knives and blocking our progress. But in Uganda we went straight for them and rode through the middle of their group to their cheers and kind-hearted waves.
At least once a day, we witness huge herds of cattle being nonchalantly escorted across the road in heavy traffic. No one gets upset, but just patiently wait it out.
Entire homes are brightly painted, advertising cell phone companies, solar panels or any manner of hardware.
I’m sure there will be more to share as we keep moving. We hope to get an early start tomorrow as we have to go about 93 kms in the mud. Thankfully we found a couple Snickers bars today to help us get through tomorrow. It doesn’t take much.