East Africa’s Perception of Quality

Preparing the equipment for the tour I’m helping to manage was something I decided to take particular responsibility over. The other tasks, like finding corporate sponsorship or wooing venues into hosting the band involve too much persuasion and infuriating negotiation for my liking. Finding sound equipment, on the other hand… how hard can it be? Continue reading

Tuning for Victory

Loiterers at Kampala Cycling Club

Worry gripped me. I lay awake some semi-sleepless nights thinking about the long route I will follow in the coming weeks on my dodgy, heavily used bicycle and began to feel nervous. People were depending on me now! What if I failed? If my idea to ride around Africa’s largest lake had continued – as it started – as a foolish lark performed solely for my pleasure, then there would be no problem. I’m used to hurling myself into unknown situations. But now people are watching me. They will want results. Continue reading

Go Huge or Go Home

Bike people help bike people

It is amazing how things begin to flare up once the first embers of an idea are stoked. Preparing for what was going to be a fairly small time fund raiser for an ambitious young organization in Uganda has led to buckets of new contacts, new ideas, and new connections. By now my simple, plodding bike trip around Lake Victoria at the heart of east Africa has been inflated to take on a new form. Continue reading

Cycling Uganda: Finding a Bike

Meet Victory

On the busy, sloping streets of central Kampala, near the old taxi park where all forms of transportation come crashing together in a kaleidoscope of wheels and potholes, multiple level shopping centers offer hair extensions, electronics, or local food. In the basements of many, one can find dozens of bicycle shops, jammed with tires, selling the magnificent machines in all conditions, shapes, and sizes

I came around looking for a bicycle solution. Men in greasy jumpsuits waved their wrenches and beckoned me downstairs to see their selection. I complied, happy to be out of the sun, and to peruse through the many junker machines available. I needed one which could bear me around Lake Victoria. Continue reading

Packing List for Indefinite Leave

I will be gone a long time, probably a minimum of two years, and a maximum of forever. What does one bring on a trip which potentially lasts a lifetime?

He's got everything he needsI like monks. I have heard and read stories about traveling monks who go around with little more than what they are wearing and a small kit of personal care items: things like a razor and toothbrush. Anything else they may need can be bought, bartered for, or is provided by monasteries or friends they will visit. This is admirable! How simple your travels would be! It is true that the majority of things people pack can be seen as luxuries, conveniences, or time-savers. Travel shops are full of travel-sized crap to make travel a lot like living at home. Fun-size hair dryer? A monk just shaves his head and is done with it. Someday I hope to reach monk-like packing thrift, but that day is not today. My goal is for my full pack to weigh less than 25 pounds. Continue reading

Driving Abroad: International Driving Permit

"I can drive" in 11 languages!

During my past summer in France, while the grape harvest was winding down, those of us who remained on the vineyard were loading sticky buckets and hand tools into caravans for transport back to home base, about an hour and a half freeway drive distant. The main man noticed there were more cars than Frenchmen. How would we get all of these vehicles back home?

He turned to me and asked if I could drive. Of course I can, but in France this is a valid question to ask of a 24 year old. The French (and many other peoples, I suspect) do not necessarily gain their drivers license at 16 as a sort of automatic coming of age thing (the French balk at the idea that we Americans let prepubescent 15.5 year-olds tear around in huge American cars). First off, driving age is 18. Secondly, cars, their fuel, and their insurance are all astoundingly expensive. Third, public transportation around the country is fairly good, and cuts out the need for a car for most people. Thus, the French only own and drive cars if they really need to, if you live in the countryside and can actually afford it.

“Sure, I can drive,” I said, “but I don’t know if I’m allowed to drive here…” Continue reading

The Cloud: Web Tool for New-Age Travel

The Cloud goes wherever you go!

“The Cloud.” It is mysterious. It is useful. It is, perhaps, a bit intimidating to some. But just what is it?

To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure, but I have an idea. It seems that ‘the cloud’ means ‘computing service’, where users (you, me, businesses, etc.) can store, crunch, organize, and monitor their data on the web. For example, a person can store music files on an online database rather than physically storing it on their own hard drive. A business can upload sales data to an online data analysis service and interpret the results, rather than doing it in-house on their own computers.

So why is it such a big deal, and what use do travelers have for such abstract technology? Continue reading