Bulawyo

It Falls Apart (But It Could Be Worse)

by Spencer

Last week was disastrous. We were riding through Zimbabwe. It’s a poor country. People sit on the side of the road selling piles of bugs. There isn’t enough electricity to power the streetlights. Our destination was Bulawayo’s central business district, it was nighttime and I was tired. My hand hasn’t been quite right, after a few hours it tingles, then turns to pins and needles and then I loose all sensation. We went over these rumble strips; they knocked the bag with my laptop off my bicycle and I didn’t feel it. I realized it was gone a couple minutes later. I circled back but it was too late. We were in the dark suburbs of a large city next to a university. All the photos, video, notes, contact info and the two completed episodes of the past month were gone and would never come back.

When you lose a month’s work and a couple thousand dollars you pause. It’s that punch to the stomach where you’re consumed by regret, all you can think of are the couldve shouldves. I wish I had stopped bicycling before it got dark, when I could still feel my hand. I wish I had safetied the bag to the bicycle. I wish I had backed up my work and mailed it home. I spent a week questioning why I was here, my competency, whether or not I’m even half capable of completing what I set off to do. It has been a journey of bad to worse.

And yet, I was right about at least one thing. There is a story here. In one day I went from a lawyer’s office to a police station to a hospital (to get my stitches out) to continue onward to wake up in a new city. As they say in some places, it’s been real.

When I was frantically searching for my bag, a headlamp attached to my helmet flickering through night, a man pulled off the side road and asked if we were okay. I told him what happened. He invited to us his friend’s home and we all watched Championship League (soccer) over a hot meal. He told us how in his eyes Nelson Mandela was a sellout. He told us how yeah Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s 87 year old dictator, is, yeah, a real a**hole who burned Zim into the ground but he’s our a**hole dictator who you put in power so why do you kick us out of the Commonwealth and put up sanctions?

Getting different perspectives is big. So is human kindness. It’s worth fighting for. I considered going home. I considered compromising, continuing with the bicycling but no video. But I can’t. I’m not going give up. Not yet. I’m alive and well and there is a story here. People are amazing.

In the coming weeks expect a lot more posts. (And maybe actually a video!!) The journey continues.