Bob Marley on a Bike

Today’s 33 mile ride was for Ayet Nabaliwa, a nine-year-old girl who wants to be a nurse.

We woke up to African music, Muslim prayers and the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen. He was fast too.

Today we rode into Lira, the furthest north we will go on our route. You might have heard of Gulu which is about an hour north of here because of Joseph Kony and the LRA and how they terrorized the people here. Tomorrow it’s off to Kamura Falls, and we are not sure what to expect. We are getting into some areas of national parks and it’s kinda confusing to me if we are allowed to bike where we want to go. John was a bit tired today after a bad sleep last night in the hot box that was our cheap hotel, and also from carrying such a heavy load again today, but he had a nap and we cooked a good dinner of rice, freeze dried chicken, avocado and mango wrapped in chapati that we bought from a street vendor. It was pretty filling and healthy and only cost about $3. I’m getting more comfortable walking the streets to get food that we need. I just keep my head up and walk like I belong there despite the comments and stares I get.

John edged away from me today and took a little power back from a semi-truck by grabbing a rope that was dangling from the back and getting pulled up the final pitch of a long hill. It brought a smile to my face because I knew exactly what he was doing.

We rode with a young Ugandan man today sporting a cool Bob Marley t-shirt. We came up behind him and as we passed we gave him the usual wave and thumbs up greeting. He smiled and then continued to pedal like a madman, trying to keep up. I stopped to take a picture of an ornate church in the middle of nowhere and he passed me and was then between me and John. I gradually caught him but I could tell he was trying so hard not to be passed that I just stayed behind him a little longer. When I did pass him, he dropped his head in defeat but then lifted it again with a huge smile and a congratulatory nod, as if I’d won a race I didn’t know I was in. He trailed behind us for about nine miles all together, all the while sweating and trying his best to catch up.

It made me think of East Africa and its people. I’m no expert by any means, but from what I’ve seen and experienced, this nation tries so hard to “catch up” but lack of resources and technology keep them just a few paces behind. It’s certain not for lack of effort or skill. Bob Marley was definitely the superior athlete but because he’s riding a single speed bike in skinny jeans and work boots rather than a 2×10 mountain bike with clipless pedals, he has lost the race already. The unfairness of that really hit me hard today and I thought about it for miles and miles as I watched him fall further and further behind. I know his bike and his skills work well for his life and what his life entails. I just wonder if sometimes we judge others for not being further ahead when despite their sweat and best efforts, the disparity between what we have been given is what makes all the difference.