Crossing the Line

We apologize for not posting this yesterday, but we were in a more remote area and our wifi router wouldn’t grab a signal.

Today’s 65-kilometre ride was for Naginda Sylvia and Kirumira Augustine. There are only two days of riding left which is hard for me to fathom.

Rain. wind. crocodiles. sun. cats. equator. dirt. traffic. interview. roadkill. spiders. kids. bedbugs. fishermen. That’s the gist of today.

We enjoyed our last interaction with Dennis at breakfast and left around 8:30 to make the meeting with Luke, the reporter, at noon. We rode the main highway between Masaka and Kampala so traffic was steady, but still felt safer than riding on the North Shore at home. Today the road was lined with fishermen, selling both fresh and dried tilapia, for miles. We rode right into a rainstorm and the rain was mixed with sand, snot, spray and a few tears on my face and bikegloves as we fought a headwind. It was a miserable moment. Suck it up! I couldn’t draft behind John because the kick up of gravel and spray into my face was just too much. But we crested the hill, saw the sign for the equator and my energy was renewed.

We met with Luke as planned after he startled us from behind, riding a motorcycle and filming us. We then sat down with a Coke and he told us a little bit about his business. He’s part of an organization that owns three newspapers and two broadcasting stations, but he’s thinking of retiring from that business in a couple of years to start a vocational school instead. We answered some very general questions about how things have gone so far and what we thought of Uganda. He took some notes but then took out his old video camera and proceeded to ask us exactly the same questions but with the camera right in our faces. It was very strange and made me really uncomfortable and forget a lot of what I wanted to say. He took some more video of us riding, but the camera was swinging all over the place as he balanced himself of the back of a boda so I’m not sure how it will turn out. We took some photos at the equator which had an awesome marker that I was happy to not miss this time. So that was the first line we crossed today.

The second line we crossed today was the one that goes over our comfort zone. We booked a room at the Buwama Crocodile Farm, being lead to believe it was a reptile refuge and somewhat of a tourist attraction. What it is in actuality is a place where old crocodiles come to die and baby crocs are sold to locals for food and to South Koreans to make handbags and shoes. Romeo and Juliet, the 60-year-old pair, have been bred to keep the business running. And Benjamin, an 80-year-old man-eating croc from the Nile has been brought here to live out the last of his possible 20 years. Apparently, he’s known for eating 60 people.

After lunch (which I’m so thankful we had before getting here!!!) we rode about twelve kilometres out of the way to get here and it’s been the first place that made me want to get back on the bike and ride further. Their focus is obviously more on the crocodile harvesting and less on accommodations. Based on the price, we thought we knew what we were getting because it was higher than some other places we’ve stayed so we thought it would be decent. There is no electricity, no running water, spiders, a disheveled ‘restaurant’ with spiderwebs everywhere, an actual bulb-less lamp on the floor of the bathroom for the light, and the worst part – bedbugs. Oh, and the floor actually moves from all the tiny ants crawling around. I showed Naomi (the worker) the bedbugs and she laughed, saying, “Oh, those aren’t bedbugs. Those are just insects crawling around.” Yeah. IN THE BED! It was too late to find anything else (without being sure anything else even existed that we could pedal to before dark) so we are pulling out the tent tonight and pitching it in the room itself. It’s gonna be a long night. To be honest, this is actually kinda what we expected to have to do for the entire trip so now we are 100% more grateful that it wasn’t like this from the start. I would’ve faked an injury to avoid living like this and my standards have never been five-star hotels. But hey, I told too many people that I wanted to “embrace all that Uganda had to offer.” I guess that would have to include bedbugs and ants and no running water. I’m just thankful I have an option to not embrace them literally, as John has been lugging our tent around this entire country still unused. I asked John if he would have carried the tent this entire time knowing that we would only need it for this night. He laughed and without hesitation said, “Absolutely!”

The setting outside is quite beautiful though. It’s right on Lake Victoria so there is a nice breeze and there are hundreds of birds feeding in the grass and making their different calls. There are cows grazing, fishermen out on a little peninsula, and laughing children sliding down a hill on banana leaves. That’s the thing I have learned about this place. For as hard as it is, there is stunning beauty all around if you just open your eyes. But John did just say, “I kinda just want this day to go away.” It’s only 4 pm.

Today we are reminded that suffering together builds a bond. And cycling can bring you to special places physically and emotionally… even if the bugs come along with.