Late start, but at least we started

Today’s 37-mile ride was for Mirembe Josephine (Joan) and Katama Wycliffe, two of the thirteen we got to meet before we left. Joan rushed in to meet us with a huge smile on her face that never left and Wycliffe wouldn’t stop crying because he was afraid of the ‘white people’ and refused to look at us and only clung tightly to his teacher. This is not unusual behaviour because many parents use the parenting tactic that mazungus (white foreigners) will take kids away if they misbehave. I guess we are kinda like the boogeyman.

Last night was so hot that John got his dirty towel, soaked it in water, wrung it out and slept under it all night. He thought it was a top-notch solution but also reminiscent of having a fever.

We got a little bit later start this morning (10:30) because John had to repair his flat. He switched out the valve and added some sealant and it held for the first forty kms of today. He still has a very slow leak and it will need further attention tomorrow.

Today’s ride was super dusty and dirty again. We had planned on taking a certain route, but at the last minute, decided that we would take a more direct “paved” route. Sadly, after only a quarter-mile, that also turned to bone dry dirt and dust and was the only main connector with the next town. So we were passed by a lot of vehicles and to avoid potholes they would drive straight at us, only to swerve at the last moment. Fortunately, the speeds were slower and they’re fantastic drivers, used to dodging goats and cattle as it’s herded across the road. We passed a big sugar factory and there were many sugarcane trucks full to overflowing of sugarcane and always topped by two or three workers cheering us on.

Thousands of mud huts are all neatly grouped into tiny communities of five to ten. The women or children sweep the dirt between their huts and have beautifully-decorated outside walls. One house had about fifty hearts painted on its exterior. We would love to take pictures of all of them because they’re quite attractive, but with the poor families sitting outside or doing various chores, including making their own flour, it never seems appropriate. One thing I DO wish I would have risked snapping a photo of was a group of about seven older ladies, in various brilliantly-coloured dresses walking in a group, talking and laughing, each carrying an enormous handbag on her head. They seemed excited to be walking to the tiny, two-storefront ‘village’ about a kilometre away.

John’s left knee is starting to feel a little achy and we’ve ridden for fourteen days, so tomorrow might be best to take off. We found a beautiful guest house for a very low price and so I think we’re going to stay tomorrow and do a little laundry and regroup. I cried today a little, not because of the heat or the difficulty of the ride but because I just miss things being easy, clean and home. I think I’m tired. The distance between the city we’re in now and Fort Portal, the next larger destination, is 240 kms on back roads and trails and so we need our energy.

Tonight we were excited to eat at the hotel restaurant so we laid on the bed together and reviewed the seven pages of various foods from around the world each one uniquely, and sometimes hilariously, described. After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that we were going to have pizza and so I went to the restaurant to order. Unfortunately, all they had available was whole fish with the head still attached or liver. So I cooked some gummy chicken Alfredo on our little alcohol stove just outside our door. John loves fish, but if you could see where some of these fish have been swimming, you would probably pass on it too. We then walked on the streets a bit and bought a couple of avocados, some chips (of course) and a whole watermelon.

For my birthday this year, Hannah and Dylan gave me the sweetest and most meaningful gift – a pack of five letters to take on this trip to open when I was about to begin the ride, and then when I was feeling exhausted, homesick, discouraged and victorious.

I’m gonna go read the homesick one.