Speke and Me, Explorers We

John Speke’s drawing of the Nile’s source back when. The falls no longer exist for damming.

It was fitting that the book I brought along on my cycling adventure around Lake Victoria was a 1912 edition of John Speke’s memoir of his own two-and-a-half year expedition in search of the source of the River Nile. During lonely sick days or lazy afternoons, I lost myself in his detailed account of trudging through swamps, leading mutinous men, and struggling to appease a series of chiefs and kings along the way. To read about a specific place along the lake’s enormous fringe which was opened up to the Europeans by Speke in the 1860s, and then to pass through the very same place on a bicycle gave my whole adventure context. Hell, it makes my ordeal look like a trip to the grocery store to buy cake mix.

I had fairly smooth roads, for one thing, and wheels to boot. Continue reading

On Fund Raising

The system works!

I hate asking people for things, normally. I’d rather sleep out in the cold than knock on a stranger’s door, unless I was seriously concerned about my survival. My diet, when I’m in a financial bind, consists of what’s both cheapest and most nutritionally wholesome: fruit, seeds, nuts. And the very last thing I’d ever ask anyone for is money; I feel I ought to be able to earn what I need. Maybe I’m proud, maybe I’m stubborn, but I only wish to sustain myself in contentedness.

Recently I’ve had to change this mentality somewhat. Working with this community-based organization, PMK Save the Future Generation – Uganda, I’ve learned that one must ask for help in order to receive it. By trying to raise money for my circumnavigation of Lake Victoria, and the subsequent funding of a new community banking program for the organization, I’ve achieved a new level of humility by sending emails to friends, companies, organizations, and family asking for contributions. Continue reading

Ring Around Victoria

So I’ve got this idea in my head and I can’t make it go away. It just means I’ll have to follow through.

I am going to ride a bicycle around Lake Victoria. I have been thinking about it since I first saw the lake flying into Entebbe Airport. I miss bicycles, and all the dirt roads in this country are begging to be ridden by clunking steel bikes which are found all over the place. I’m gonna get me one of those super-solid stallions and schlepp it through three countries and around the world’s third largest lake. Continue reading

Back in Kampala

Arriving in Kampala, I met my new host in a popular fried chicken joint in town. Lucky Peter took me from town to the Kazo ward, a poverty stricken pseudo-district north of the city. Bobbing and dodging clotheslines strung up across a labyrinth of narrow alleys, and stepping mistakenly into the thick layers of vile mud which line the bigger streets, we eventually made it to the home of Father Godfrey, where I have been staying for nearly two weeks. The ward somehow feels like home already; by now I am navigating the dusty lanes with impunity, and the novelty of having a white guy in the neighborhood is starting to wear off. Continue reading