Bananas In My Spokes

Today’s 73 kilometre-ride into Masaka was for Kimujuni Gillian and Iga Simon Peter. It was all pavement with 3000 feet of climbing and the first ride I didn’t slather on the sunscreen for. I need to remember to wear some tomorrow. Ouch.

John didn’t sleep well last night. Maybe it’s the knowledge that we stayed in an area that is so overrun with ticks that despite the use of toxic chemicals, which is actually killing the cows but can’t seem to harm the tics (there was a two-day conference about it at our hotel). Or maybe it was the chicken pizza we had for dinner that looked awesome and had huge pieces of chicken that turned out to be mostly bones. Not a stray little bone, but an actual full neck, wing and parts of the back. How does somebody normally eat this? Most places we stay in have the working quarters very close, if not right outside our window, and the workers work late and start early. So, needless to say, it’s usually loud as windows are always open-air at the tops (with no way to close them) and we are usually at the mercy of early traffic sounds, birds, and said workers for our wake up time. Last night was no exception. John thinks he’s not sleeping because he is not getting enough exercise. Ha! He even went for an extra little ride yesterday and still didn’t sleep until midnight and then woke up at 2 and read for another hour. We were on the bikes by 8:30 this morning, fuelled with eggs on toast and fruit. We ordered English coffee because the waiter said it was with milk, which is how we like our morning cup. He only brought hot milk, hot water, and sugar. Well, thank goodness for Starbucks Via!! We are getting dangerously low on those little packages of heaven so we are in rationing mode.

Today’s scene-of-the-day was a helpless chicken strapped to the back of a big box on a boda boda with a single piece of rope, flattening the poor guy tightly as if he was being kidnapped. He was still alive, of course, and looking around enjoying the scenery. I started laughing and the banana that I was eating on the fly broke off and fell right into my spokes, flipping banana up into my face and onto my clothes. For all I know, he was about to be delivered to someone who ordered fresh chicken and chips. Oh, and another amusement from today was that I had a lady just come right up to me and ask, “What’s wrong with your skin?” I didn’t know what she was talking about. Like, the tattoos? What? Oh, the freckles. She must be asking about the freckles. We had to explain to another person why our skin changes colour in the summer. It freaked him right out.

We have covered over 1100 miles (1770 kms) by now and every day, there seems to be a theme of what vendors are selling from their roadside stands or making with strenuous labour. One day it’s pineapple; the next day is bananas, tea, coffee, avocados, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. Two days ago, it was bricks. We would see pit after pit of muddy clay with men and children slinging mud into wooden forms and carefully laying them out in piles. They would be absolutely covered from head to toe in mud and their smiles were that much brighter coming from faces speckled with clay as if they’d just had a mud fight. Yesterday’s theme was charcoal. Tall piles of charcoal shards lined the roads off and on for 50 kilometres, wrapped in shredding white tarps while women organized new batches as their babies and children sat in the shade of the piles. And today, there was not one single pile of charcoal, but I noticed more slate than normal – the kind you would use in sidewalks or driveways. It’s been very interesting and also rewarding to know that we are covering enough distance to see differences in the available resources in the various regions and the people making full use of those resources to provide for their families. Tomorrow’s theme will be fish because we are headed to Lake Victoria.

Like I mentioned, we are in Masaka tonight and the weird thing is, we could be back at out starting place in only two days if we pushed it, but our flights can’t be changed and we are looking forward to the party with the kids. Vincent and his team are working very hard to honour the kids and make a great event. So we are “slowing our roll” and taking advantage of the extra time to do some things we’ve never done before – like board a chaotic first-come-first-serve-every-man-for-himself ferry ride to bike around some islands in Lake Victoria for a few days. Stay tuned to find out how that fiasco goes.

So far, we have had some good questions coming. We are writing answers and will post them on our last day of rest so please keep them coming. They don’t need to be significant or meaningful – we’ve even had questions about toilet paper. So, please ask those burning questions and we promise not to say who asked them.