Today’s ride was for Ndagire Esther.
In the interest of giving our butts a break, getting a little reprieve from the constant attention and yells of MUZUNGU!! and putting in some miles, we opted to take the highway today rather than the off-road route. Those of you following us on Mapshare might have noticed we were a little off.
What a good decision. We put in 47 miles and got a mental break from some of the things that have been wearing on us. The highway in Uganda is an interesting way to travel and we were very much advised against it. They drive on the opposite side of the road so you’re shoulder-checking on the opposite side and watching for oncoming traffic that seems to come from everywhere. The shoulders were big but we had to be 100% alert at all times – watching for pedestrians, cows, goats, chickens, potholes, random speed bumps and of course trucks, boda bodas and taxi busses coming from behind and occasionally head on. It was actually kind of relaxing. I can’t tell you how many times I have maneuvered my bike around cows as the lay in or across the road randomly. But just like everyone else, they are on Africa time and completely unconcerned about me.
At one point we were passed by some cyclists, racing in full kits and on nice bikes. Two of them stopped their training ride to talk to us. They are high school-aged students who are AIDS orphans on a racing team called One More Child that have competed in Kenya and in the famous Tour de Rwanda where one of them came in 5th. They have 280 members in their club and 30 on their team. They kept thanking us for coming and for caring for their country. I think the meeting made John’s whole week.
We stopped to buy a watermelon by the side of the road and ate almost the entire thing. It cost us $1.33 and was a perfect hydrating snack to get us to our destination for the night, a town called Bulugi. We found a clean and safe guesthouse (where we are the only guests) with a lovely worker named Samantha who wanted us to stay for the entire week. I shared pictures of my family and learned that she works here at the guesthouse and sends money back to her family of 8 siblings that live near Kampala. She is a delight. She is making us “eggs and chips” with coffee in the morning for breakfast before we set off for what might be our longest day yet.
On a personal note, today was the first day where I felt a little stronger and not so much inside my head and worrying about not meeting my own expectations. Some of you know that I anticipated struggling to live in the moment and letting the trip unfold as it would. Man, I am just so bad at that. My self-talk can be so negative and my self-doubt is tiring. John, once again, being the man he is and the one I need, talked last night about how to have a different perspective on things and I woke up feeling more ready to take on the day. I was still slow, especially on the hills, my butt still hurt and my back still seized up, but today felt different. Whenever I felt discouraged, I would just look up to see a woman with lots of family to feed and admit I have never had to feel the fear of being unable to feed my children, or a man riding a single speed bike with a load way heavier than mine, or an old woman bent in half over her laundry while a baby sat crying unattended nearby. I feel a sense of shame for not feeling more content, for making a big deal out of my lost shoe, and for feeling that any aspect of this adventure, that I CHOSE to do, is too difficult. And for being the kind of person who has to see poverty and hardship in order to appreciate what she has.