uganda

Bicycling to Entebbe Airport

by Spencer

That was the most stressful airport departure of my life times ten. And I’ve missed two flights.

If I had to guess, based off people’s reactions, no one has ever bicycled the 40k from Kampala to Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, taken the bicycle apart at the security check point, placed the pieces on the scanner bed, then made a box out of scrap cardboard, and somehow gotten the bike on the plane without paying the prescribed fee.

Also I was running really late so they had me skip all the lines which was really awkward especially as it rained on the ride in so I was drenched in water and sweat plus bike grease. But still, it worked!!

edited 1/1/2015

The Last Hundred Miles

by Spencer

South-eastern Uganda. A hundred mile bike ride sounds like a long one – but to this journey it made for just another day. To Kampala I rode mostly on a dirt track, and it was the largest road within 20 miles. It was surprisingly poor and densely populated (So much so it was hard to find quiet places to pee). There was no electrification and but three secondary schools.

edited 1/1/2015

A Fork in the Road: To South Sudan

by Spencer

We are creatures of habit. Most often our decisions are less than tremendous – they’re exercises in functional efficiency, habituated patterns. I face an actual decision. A literal fork in the road. It’s unsettling.

Last week we discovered that Ethiopia has changed its immigration policy. They no longer issue tourist visas, except at the airport in Addis Ababa and to residents in their home country. Online, people reported month long turnarounds from the Ethiopian embassy in Washington. The only way for us to make it into Addis would be to fly in. Difficult and expensive as we have bicycles.

We’re cornered. We came from the south. To the west, the Congo is struggling after decades of war and a continuing insurgency. And they don’t speak English. To go east is to enter Kenya and end our journey early in Nairobi. That’s an option. Maybe the wisest. But there’s another option, to go north.

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Slept Here: Rural Ugandan Maternity Ward

by Spencer

Spend a night in the maternity ward to a rural African clinic, and you gain perspective. There was no soap, no clean linens, no running water, no electricity. And yet, they were so kind. Ben asked if there was a way to boil water, so we could make our rice. The clinic had a stove. They clearly hadn’t used it much before; gas spilled onto the floor. A pregnant woman came to give birth. The flames shot up three feet high. Ben and I thought the stove was going to explode and everyone was going to die. The woman was led to a bed. They gave us a pineapple. Even insisted we sleep on blood stained beds. (Awkward!) They were so kind.