Snot and Tears

Today’s ride was for Talemwa Angel and Namweruka Violet and I needed their faces in my field of vision all day. It was pretty nondescript and we didn’t even take any photos today.

It was a relatively short ride ride today, wasn’t too steep or too hot and on pretty good pavement. But my body seems to be rebelling. I am discouraged by how much everything hurt today. My back especially, but also my right thigh, left knee, left foot/toes and left arm and elbow. Whaaat ?!?!

We made it to Mbarara by noon after riding only fifty-five kilometres with only 1500 feet of climbing as we are now coming out of mountains. We dropped from 5400 to 4700 feet. John always rides slower for me to be able to stay with him, but I had a really hard time keeping up the pace today and had to do a lot of self-talk. If I wouldn’t have been worried about being even more of a spectacle than I already am being a white woman on a bicycle over here, I would have just sat in the ditch and cried today. To be honest, I did cry, but because my #1 cheerleader was right there, he didn’t let me curl up in the ditch. I blew my nose, wiped the sweat and tears onto my already-nasty bike gloves and kept pedalling, albeit reluctantly. I thought to myself, “I can always cry in the shower later if I still need to.” Our next ride is another hard day of 100 kilometres through Lake Mburaro National Park, so in order to enjoy that more, we are gonna give this old body a break tomorrow and see if that helps. The place we found for tonight upgraded our room for free so that we had ample space for our bikes. It’s quiet and the shower is hot. And you won’t be surprised to learn that another factor in our decision for a rest day is that there is an amazing pizza (African-style) place only one kilometre away.

I tried to distract myself today by listing in my head the many funny things I’ve seen people wearing on this trip so far. I know many of you understand that third-world countries receive their clothes from people in wealthier countries who give old, used and sometimes out-of-style items to various church groups or NGOs who bring them over here to donate. These items often end up being sold at local shops and markets to those who have no idea what the slogans say, mean or represent. Please understand I’m not making fun of the reality of poverty that forces hard-working people to just take what they can get to provide for their families. More often than not, what occurs to me is how ironic it is to see kids wearing team jerseys that represent such wealth and lifestyles that these kids will probably never see firsthand and have little framework to understand the magnitude of the money spent on professional sports. And Old Navy puffy coats are apparently making a comeback over here when the temperature drops below 70 degrees. Especially the pink ones. So far, my Top Three Funny Things I Have Seen People Wear that I want to document merely for my own memory are:

1. A boda driver wearing a yellow construction hardhat as his helmet – not strapped on, of course

2. An old man of about 60 walking with a cane, wearing a bright red Santa hat complete with the white pom pom hanging off the back

3. A man wearing a t-shirt that said, “I gotta pee.” I don’t even understand how that slogan was a good idea in any country. I have seen shirts promoting the Canadian Olympics, the Green Bay Packers, Shawn Mendez, Eminem, Vans, Superman, Hello Kitty, The Patriots, the Chicago Bulls, AC⚡️DC, the Edmonton Oilers, a threadbare Spiderman costume and all manner of race and 5K event tee-shirts that people realized they will never wear past race day before finally donating them.

It’s 5 pm right now and I’m laying here with a full belly, an unused first aid kit, good wifi and I’m done for the day while the thunder rolls outside and the curtains flap with a cool breeze. As mentioned in a previous post, my kids gave me letters for my birthday and I had to read the one for when I’m feeling inadequate. My kids know me well and their encouraging words lift me up more than they will even know. Although I’m not having a great day emotionally and have doubts about dragging my butt through the last of our two weeks here, I know, deep down, that I’ve come too far to quit now and baring anything unforeseen, it will be accomplished… with a little help from the lovely Ugandans who keep my spirits up with a mere smile and a wave, and my best friend who now lays right beside me, listening to cycling podcasts.