Running On Empty

Today’s 75-kilometre ride with 3000 feet of climbing was for Kyagulanyi David and Achan Miriam.

Only one more kiddo to ride for on a 30-mile day on Friday. We are staying in Mityana again tomorrow because it’s the reporter’s hometown and he wants to show us around and ask more questions.

We had about as much sleep last night as you would expect based on yesterday’s blog. We crawled into our tent that we had set up in the room around 7 PM and they came knocking on the door at 7:30 to make sure we had power because all of our lights were off and they had just turned on the generator. (side-note: there was still only one bulb in the whole unit). They were also hoping to sell us dinner but having seen their facilities, we simply said we were too tired and going to bed early. In truth, we had the lights off because we didn’t want to attract the mosquitoes and we didn’t really want to see what else might be crawling around. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Then they came back and knocked at the door at 9:30 pm to see if we were going to the campfire. I reminded them that we were going to bed early and we would see them in the morning. When we both got up to use the bathroom one last time, we were jokingly screaming about the bugs as we hurled ourselves back into the tent and zipped it up as quickly as possible. Joel (the tour guide-handyman-cook-security guard-cleaner-crocodile feeder) was immediately outside the door calling, “Don’t worry, Mr. John! I’m right here!!”

Actually, now I am worried – is he spending the whole night sitting right outside our door? It almost seemed like it as he knocked on the door again this morning just before 7, asking for “Mr. John.” I told him he was still asleep and he said, “OK just leave him.” John wasn’t asleep and had only dozed off occasionally throughout the whole night. I have no idea why Joel so urgently wanted to see him, but we packed up everything inside the room and left as soon as we could. We didn’t even want to stay long enough to make our own oatmeal or coffee. Unfortunately, our quick exit was delayed because I had misplaced the Garmin InReach, our most expensive piece of gear – a satellite device that tracks our progress and has SOS potential. It has been my responsibility this entire time and I kinda freaked out a little (a lot) thinking I had lost it. Joel, of course, offered to help look. I retraced my steps to the lake while John looked through our bags. Joel dishonestly told John that I told him I would give him money if he found it. I had said nothing of the sort and was annoyed that he had lied about that. I still gave him a small tip because I felt bad that he obviously had a hard life and had made such an effort to connect.

In actuality, the poor service at the croc farm is rare and demonstrates again the value of education. We stopped for breakfast after twelve kilometres and ordered some “fluffy pancakes.” The first batch was undercooked and still raw in the middle but they looked so good. I eventually told the waitress after trying to eat one and when I showed her, she felt bad and I tried to tell her it was no big deal. But she took the pancakes back and they made us two new plates of pancakes and then didn’t charge us for the meal. The manager even came out and apologized for our experience, but I assured him that my pancakes turn out that way almost every time. Throughout Uganda we have found that those people that are able to attend hotel management classes in high school or college really focus on the quality of their service and take their employment very seriously. You can quickly tell who has had an education and been taught how to work with people.

It ended up being a rather hard day of riding for some reason. The miles weren’t crazy but the climbing, no dinner last night, the heat, poor sleep, being back on rutted gravel and navigation challenges made the day feel extra long and hard. It’s like my body knew exactly how much it needed in the tank to complete this journey and now I’m running on fumes and hoping I don’t run outta gas on the last day. John did a great job getting us here to Mityana and is as strong as ever, frequently having to wait for me today.

Our room tonight is the only one in the hotel that has hot water. We had to choose between hot water and having a TV. No contest. We had a wasp nest in our room but once I told them about it, they quickly gathered the troops and figured out how to get rid of them – which amounted to getting us out of the room while the boy staff made the girl staff squish the nest with a holey rag. I’ve been afraid of “African killer bees” since I was little and learned about them in some kind of summer nature camp. So I’m happy that they got rid of them. I stuffed a towel under the door to the outside because that is how they were coming in. Mission accomplished. When John saw the kitchen where meals were prepared (see picture below) he was a little hesitant, but it does tend to be the industry standard, so we ordered chicken with rice and fries and it really hit the spot.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I have no idea what’s around that Luke wants to show us or the ‘local favourite’ food that he wants to share with us. Remember, Luke, that we are delicate. He gave us some questions to think about so we’ll take some notes so it’s not so awkward this time. That is, unless he pulls out the video camera.