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Up n Down in Uganda

The recent release of the movie “Last King of Scotland” put Uganda on the map, but did little good in presenting the current beauty of the people, culture and natural wonders of this awe inspiring country. Unlike its neighbor Kenya, Uganda has an exceptional reputation in the international travel community and I was eager to explore the “Pearl of Africa”.

As you may recall, my mom is with me here for the part of the Ugandan adventure as well. We decided to make a run for the border town of Busia from Kisumu, Kenya with a lovely early morning ride followed by a hot afternoon minibus adventure in a Matutu. Mamacita only had about a week left of her trip in East Africa with me and after our horrible road experience in Kenya we decided to start fresh in Uganda. We crossed the border about two hours before sunset with no plan whatsoever, and we both were leaning towards setting up the tent in a Ugandan village somewhere past the border.

Immediately after crossing the border you can see and feel the difference from Kenya. For starters, the roads were in excellent shape with huge shoulders and loaded with the smiling “Boda-Boda” bicycle taxi drivers wearing their bright pink shirts. “Boda-Boda” bike taxis originated in Busia to ferry people from “Border to Border”.—or Boda to Boda. Now they are used throughout Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and beyond, both bicycle and motorcycle, as a major form of transport. The traffic was slow, the sunset stunning, and adorable mud and thatch villages were in every direction tempting mom and me to stop to sort out a place to stay.

We decided to pedal about 10KM or so in the setting sun as the temperature was perfect and our fellow cycling mates friendly and plentiful in the large shoulder. But eventually we knew we had to find our home for the night and we both were inspired to pull off and explore a lush area of farms, mud huts and dirt paths. After a few twists and turns on some dirt paths we were led by some children to a group of about seven huts and one of the boys who spoke a bit of English understood that we were looking for a place to stay.

So this shirtless and shoeless little boy proceeded to peek his head in the curtain of a mud hut to share the news with some mysterious occupant that they had guests at their home. To both of our surprise, the woman opened the curtain for a closer look and realized she was half naked with her breasts hanging out! We all got a chuckle from it after the initial surprise and she quickly went back inside, joining all of us in the giggling frenzy. When she came out dressed our friend and translator explained our predicament of needing a place pitch our tent for night and she responded with a confused yet honored smile. We knew we had found our home.

Within minutes the chief of the village and the owner of the land and farm Sifuna came to greet us. He spoke good English and, like his wife, was more than happy to host us. He was in the middle of sorting out a dispute with some of the villagers so he gave us a quick tour of his farm, consisting mostly of cassava and potatoes, and recommended a place to pitch the tent under a tree not too far from the pit toilet. He was going to have his wife and daughters prepare a traditional meal for us and asked us to please make ourselves at home. By the time he left to go back to his business half the village was surrounding us and helping set up the Sierra Designs tent.

We spent the evening under the endless stars and in his humble house eating a huge meal of cassava, beans, potatoes and pumpkin. Sifina’s best friend Emanuel came over and shared his life as a career military man and some of his stories were truly horrific. He mentioned that during the years of Amin he would be stationed as far from his village as possible to make sure he would be able to serve his duty of regularly killing people and not having to be too close to home in case someone he knew, even a relative, was on the list. I won’t talk politics too much, but Uganda’s recent history is pretty gut wrenching. But at present and in the near future, it’s all about peace and good vibes as far as the eye can see.

Sifuna has always been a farmer his entire life and fed his family of 8 entirely with food from his own land. Whatever he had extra he sold or bartered for cash for school fees and other household items like oil, sugar, etc. At 64 years young he was vibrant, alert and, in my opinion, a perfect candidate for a 65+ km ride together to the next town of Iganga. He did not accept the invitation that night but I could tell he was interested in sharing a slice of life with my mom and I and it wouldn't’t take much to have him join us.

After a blissful night sleep we woke up early to the sounds of endless birds and the village waking up to start their chores on the farms. After a quick tour and a breakfast of more cassava and tea I got confirmation from Sifuna that he would be riding with us that day, and we were all extremely excited! We met the entire family, each of them living on the same chunk of land in traditional mud and thatch huts. Some of them were grown and married with children, some still in school. They all came out to greet us and have breakfast with us that sunny Saturday morning. It was bliss!

We set Sifuna up with a bright yellow Assos cycling shirt, shorts, gloves and socks and the entire village erupted in cheers when he came out of his house. He looked sharp! We hit the road a bit later than planned and the heat was starting to rise, but spirits were high and Sifuna was pedaling hard right away. Mom was also feeling strong and had built a bit of strength so she was keeping a great pace as we rode from village to village with huge white smiles and waves coming in every direction. Being the chief of his village and a respected elder, Sifuna was known by just about everyone all the way to Iganga.

Sifuna shared his life as a farmer with me and I shared my life as a boy in California all the way through college and my professional career. Although we had very different career paths and lived totally different lives, we felt quite connected to each other. Most importantly, we both shared this passion for living on the land and taking personal responsibly for your family. In many ways, I aspire to be like Sifuna and he could not believe that with all the opportunity in USA that I would want to live a simple life eating food grown on my own land.

About mid day the heat really set in and we caught some shelter for a few hours to let mom cool down. The hills were also starting to show their face and as the day grew longer we could tell mom’s pedaling for the day was about done. However, she stubbornly rode almost 60KM at 66 years old, in the hot African sun, with hills and all! But by the time we tossed her on the bus she was done, cooked, well done. Sifuna and I rode the last 10KM or so, which turned out to be an endless massive hill in the exposed sun. Sifuna showed no sign of slowing and gave it his all. There is no better bonding experience that hammering a tandem with a stranger up, up and up. You don’t need words, just teamwork, commitment and a shared determination to make it!

When we rolled into Iganga mom was cooled down and excited we made it safe. We found a room at the only decent hotel in town and we set Sifuna up with a shower and got him changed into his work clothes for his journey home. To our surprise, he was in no hurry to leave our company and ended up staying with us for a major match of Premier League soccer and some drinks. He were all proud of ourselves, feeling strong, content, relaxed and connected as if we were friends from long ago. Another amazing day of Peace Pedaling!

Sifuna took his bus back, mom went to sleep and I hit the town for a live concert at the high school in Iganga on a Saturday night. The first thing I noticed and loved about Uganda is the fact that people will give you space if you want it. That night I just wanted to go out, check some music, and observe, rather than engage. And, unlike in Kenya, Zambia and other countries in Africa, the locals got my vibe and let me have my space. The music was amazing, the crowd mellow and jolly, and I ended up meeting a few great people towards the end of the night on the dance floor.

The next day our destination was Jinja, where the mighty Nile River begins its long path to Egypt from Lake Victoria. Due to my late night out we got an all too late start that day, which turned out to be a big mistake. By the time we mounted the bikes after breakfast it was already well into the 30’s and rising fast with no cloud layer in sight. And mom’s 60KM marathon ride the day before left her a bit tattered for our last 50KM ride to Jinja. But that’s just the beginning.

Remember the nice smooth road we had from the boarder to Iganga? Well, that was as far as it went. And the rest of the road was deep, very deep, in construction all the way to Jinja. So we have a dead tired mom, hot and humid weather, wild and dusty roads full of potholes and hazards and a new treat—steep hills, lots of them, never ending. Needless to say, it was a rough one.

I was not interested in picking up any guest riders that day as I wanted to use all my energy and attention to ensure my mother did not die on the way to Jinja. The ride was only 50KM, but it felt like far more due to these harsh conditions. This day took the cake as the most dangerous day of cycling in my career and to go through it with your mother, well, you can imagine.

We arrived in Jinja totally spent and decided to treat ourselves to some luxury at a posh riverside resort where we ate a huge meal and hit the sack early. But I did manage to schedule us for a day of class 5 rafting the next day down the Nile River and we woke up excited but pretty exhausted. Mom had picked up a mean cough from all the fumes and stress, but was determined to have a go at rafting the wild river with her son. And it was a wild day indeed!

One of the tests they do when you are in the raft before the big class 5 rapids arrive is to make you swim a few small rapids to see how you react. Mamacita is not the biggest water mama and when she had to jump out and swim rapids I heard her crying and yelling my name in pure panic. The guides must have heard my subliminal messages to make sure mom did NOT run any scary rapids and risk a heart attack by twirling in vicious fresh water washing machine tosses we would all have to endure.

She happily chilled in the ore boat during the crazy class 5 tosses and it was an unforgettable day of adrenaline and breathtaking nature, but it was all my mom could handle. She went from a mild cough to a nasty cold. Luckily the folks at Nile River Explorers saw her pain and upgraded us from a campsite to a luxury tent a cliff overlooking the Nile. Needless to say, when the planned day of riding the final two days on the nation’s most dangerous road from Jinja to Kampala arrived she opted out. In fact, I decided to escort her to Kampala to spend the last few days with my mom chilling out in 5-Star luxury with yet another complementary Serena Hotel experience while organizing amazing musicians for filming and recording later in the week.

Mom and I spent the last few days together in busy Kampala eating yummy meals, having long chats and connecting with a new Ugandan friend Pam who was a friend of a buddy Hal I met in Australia who was a friend of an American buddy Scott I met in Nepal and India. Gotta love the travel life! Pam took my mom and me out on the town for some food and music and we built a nice friendship while filming and recording some truly classic Ugandan musicians like Afrigo Band and their many friends.

The day finally came where my mom would make her way back to San Diego via Kenya and our 3-week holiday together would come to an end. I was sad to see her leave and we both shed tears as I put her on a long overnight bus to Nairobi. Luckily I had plenty to keep me busy like filming the legendary Monday Nigh Jam Session at the National Theater and many new friends from Kampala to Jinja to keep me company so I did not go too deep into the sadness right away.

I had enjoyed two back to back visits from my family with my cousin Shannon in Malawi and Zanzibar and now my mom in Kenya and Uganda. And here I was going back to solo riding again and the family-lovin-crash began to set in about 48 hours after mom left. It actually affected me more than I could have ever imagined. So I decided to hit up the Nile River one more time for a few days of kayaking with Kayak the Nile who hooked me up with some lessons and equipment for a few days. My friend Pam came out for a few days and I did my best to shake this feeling of loneliness that was settling in and causing some real heart ache.

Even the Nile River could not shake my blues and I decided it was time to get on the bike and start riding again. Perhaps some wild Peace Pedaling would be just the ticket. I took a bus out of the busy capital and decided to start my adventure in the scenic and hilly area of Kasese and ride south from there to Rwanda. When the day came to start riding I have to say I was totally uninspired, grouchy, unmotivated and just downright sad and depressed. In fact, I don’t remember ever feeling quite that bad on my entire 30 country trip to date.

I tried to pick up some riders but I just wanted to be alone. Then when I was alone I felt horrible. Basically, I was in a nasty funk (slang for super bad mood) and going out Peace Pedaling was not doing it. So I decided to just go out riding for fun—no filming, no riders, and no expectations but just to enjoy some off road bike touring. Turns out the road I took was nothing but radically steep, hot, dirt roads that were exceptionally challenging and only made me more grouchy! It was time to do something different—I did now know what at the time, but it was time to do something other than move.

I know this all sounds a bit depressing but here are a few nuggets of glee from this experience. For one, I got a chance to witness the very best display of hospitality and integrity I’ve seen in all of Africa, or even my entire trip! First, I leave my camera behind when I was photographing some kids. Before I even know it’s gone a motorcycle comes riding up behind me delivering the camera back to me!!! Then I have a major mechanical problem of chain suck with several broken teeth on my chain rings and a flat tire that delays me from reaching the next village where I had planned to sleep. What happens? Pathius saves the day and invites me to stay at his house and takes me out playing pool and having an epic meal with his friends. Then the next day I’m riding the mean and nasty terrain and I lose a pannier way up on the hill. I felt something was not quite right but I just kept riding down the hill at mach speed. When I got to the bottom I realized I lost a pannier and went into panic mode! Again, a motorcycle comes like and angel and delivers me my pannier, full of invaluable equipment for the expedition. Yes, Uganda is my top country to date, even in my funky funk mood.

I knew in my heart I needed some time off the bike, away from the project, totally alone, no cameras, recorders, batteries, cables, chargers, computer, the internet, etc. So I made my way to Kabale near the boarder of Rwanda and from there rode to the breathtaking Lake Bunyoni where I decided to relax on the lake until I get my mojo back. I had definitely lost my mojo and the lake would be just what the doctor ordered.

It was all meant to be. I met the owner of Lake Bunyoni Overland Resort and explained my burnout blues and sadness and that I needed some time to just do nothing at all. He set me up with the best deluxe tent on the property for free and said to stay as long as I needed. It had a perfect yoga spot, hammock spot and was right on the lake with a priceless view. It became my personal battery recharging station for the next 4 days.

Many people think my life out Peace Pedaling is a vacation and about fun and relaxation. I assure you, its hard work, especially in Africa. I think I finally hit my walls after having 6 months of hard preparation in the USA then 7 months implementing the project out filming over a hundred hours of video from 3 cameras, running sound, watching light, finding musicians and working with them, and managing a tough cycling expedition and filming project on the wild and unpredictable continent of Africa 1,000’s of miles from the ones I love. I gave myself some total downtime as I felt I deserved it.

So after 4 days of sleeping 12-15 hours a day, doing yoga, meditating, lying in the hammock, swimming, taking naps and writing I slowly got my mojo back and my passion for the project returned. On the 5th day I can say that I was about 87% recharged and I figured that was enough to get me through the rest of Uganda, Rwanda and over to the ZIFF Music Festival in Zanzibar where I would end my South and East African Expedition.

I had met a brilliant man named Warren when I was back in Kabale who was by far the most educated and interesting man I’ve met in Africa and I decided to look him up and see if he was keen for a pedal the following day as I made my way from Kabale to Kisoro and then to the border of Rwanda. He was down for the adventure so my first stop was set. And on the way there I went back to full Peace Pedaling mode fully open to riding with the locals, learning, connecting and exploring in full force.

Just 200 meters out of the gates from the lodge I was actually chased down by a local guy named Emanuel as I was filming a scene along the lake. He was a cheerful yet poor man who had a seriously foul body odor and spelt of stale alcohol. He hoped on for a few kilometers but it was clear after the first few minutes that he was looking for a handout rather than a friendship. He told me his story of how his father died when he was a young boy and he had been supporting his brothers and sisters for years. He was hoping for support with his education as he wanted to go back to school.

Rather than just give him a few bucks I told him I would happily help him find sponsorship for his education if he sent me a one to two page proposal to my house in San Diego with the school’s name and a letter from the head master. He said he would and was grateful, but the truth is that he likely was just hoping to get some money to buy alcohol. But if he writes, I’ll find a way to support him.

After I dropped off Emanuel I had a long climb to the top of the pass before the decent back down to Kabale. It was on this climb that I met my next guest rider Joseph. Joseph is a 53 year old farmer who has 6 children. He had been living in the Kabale area his entire life and his family was his pride and joy. Like Sifuna, he relied on his land to feed his family and had little ambitions besides providing for his family. He was a great Pedaler and I got his address for my next visit to Uganda to pay him a visit.

After reaching the summit and checking out the stunning view of the lake it was time to rip it up down the steep downhill towards Kabale. There were no takers at first, just a mentally handicapped boy who really wanted to ride but his brothers would not let him. So I started off solo until a group of boys started chasing me down after we passed an overturned overland truck that was being cannibalized on the side of the road.

One young man stood out that day and his name was none other than Peng Peng from Kiyoora, just outside Kabale. He was awfully dirty from working on a rock quarry all day with his family. We rode all the way to Kabale together and we discovered that we both loved Reggae music and both had 2 brothers. We sang a few Bob Marley songs together while waving at the folks going by and we stopped several time to say hi to his friends. He really wanted my contact information and promised to write, which he has twice. I’m now helping him with a business plan to buy his own rock quarry with his family and stop working for someone else. So far he found the land to buy for $750 and if anyone wants to sponsor him, do let me know at [email protected]

So my mojo was back in full force. I rode with three people in just about 10KM and we had a total blast together. I felt open, grateful, connected and eager to continue meeting the people that came my way and learning about their lives and sharing mine. I felt enthusiastic about assisting anyone who asked for my support (as long as it was sustainable and realistic) and this openness and eagerness to serve felt wonderful. Lesson learned—take breaks more often so I don’t burn out!

So I spent that evening at the lovely Edirisa guesthouse in Kabale, which is a fundraising project benefiting the local community in various ways. The next morning Warren came over bright and early and ready to ride. I was interested in having slightly deeper conversations with an African man than just the basics available through broken English and I had a great feeling about Warren. After decking him out in his Assos ridding duds we were off and pedaling. He took me to his house to tell his family about the adventure and we were off.

We had a brilliant early afternoon ride through the gently rolling hills with truly epic scenery of terraced farms that brought back memories of Nepal with plenty of warm sunshine. We did an amazing riding interview where Warren shared his passion for his home country and his desire to tell the world to come out and visit. He was one of the rare few Ugandans who were able to go to university and travel abroad and his job in the tourism industry and working with anti-corruption organizations spurred some very enlightening conversations.

We rode until about the half way point of our ride together and stopped under a tree for lunch. I decided to share a traditional American meal with him of peanut butter and honey, which was his first experience of and he loved it. He promised to share some of his grub later in the day. After lunch it was time to tackle the massive hill up the region where he was born and raised. The hill was long but not too steep that followed a long valley where more terraced farms and adorable villages kept my jaw hanging low in awe. This region is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

We celebrated after long hot climb with a victory hug and photo at the top and made a fast decent to his home village of Rubanda. There happened to be an outdoor market going on that day with bright fruits, vegetables, clothing and every possible household item for sale out in the streets. We ate a huge meal of beans, potatoes, cassava and maize meal and continued to share and build our friendship.

We finally bid farewell about two hours before sunset and I knew I would miss his company. I’ll be back to visit him no doubt and he would love to have you if you head that way. I set him up with some cash for his bus and pedaled off into the setting sun where the scenery kept getting better and better. I had planned to ride to the town of Muko about 15KM ahead and find a place to stay there. But about half way there I met a guy named Innocent walking with his friends in the road. Something drew me to him and I asked him to come along for a short ride. I strapped his bag on the bike and off we went, easy as that.

Innocent was a jovial young man of 26 years who had completed a few years of university but, like many Africans, has had to drop out for the time being due to financial concerns. He said he would pedal me all the way to Muko then walk back to his house. But we were moving pretty slow as we kept stopping to play with the kids and do some filming. We just passed his house and did a classic filming scene of riding with a group of kids on homemade wooden bikes when the first drops of rain began to fall. Just as I put the cameras away the gentle rain turned into a violent dumping with thunder and lightening too close for comfort.

Innocent did not just invite me to stay at his house, it was more like, “Okay Jamie, it is not safe for you to keep riding and you must stay with me and my family tonight. You can’t go any further, let’s go now!”. We rode quickly down the slick road to his house and almost went down twice as the rain quickly turned the dirt road into a mud slide. By the time we made it to his house it was absolutely pouring and the thunder was rattling his tin roof.

His father, mother and brother were all there and nobody asked any questions. They all went into action clearing space in their back shed to get us and the massive tandem under cover. We were soaking wet and they quickly moved me into the house and served me up some hot tea, set me up with a tub bath and got into some fresh clothes. They had a wonderfully natural way of making me feel comfortable even though I was dripping water all over their house and my gear took up about 80% of their floor space!

I met the entire family, neighbors and friends and we had a huge meal together of beans, cassava, beef and potatoes followed by endless cups of warm tea with honey that Innocent’s father harvests himself. Life was good in Muko area indeed! Innocent accepted the invitation to ride the next day and was excited not only to ride with me but also to go visit his family living in Kisoro. Innocent had an extra bed in his room and we hit the hay early so we could get an early start up the endless hills we were dearly warned about during dinner.

The next morning Innocent was charged up and ready to rock early. We had the standard bread and tea for breakfast and Innocent’s dad gave me a huge jar of his divine homemade honey as a parting gift—perfect with the organic peanut butter available in the area! We took a nice snapshot with the family and were off and riding. I was a bit concerned that Innocent was not much of a rider, in fact, he did not even know how to ride a bike! This usually translates to legs that rarely can carry the weight of the rider and to me having to lug the weight of their gear and body up the hills. And boy were there a lot of hills!

Innocent was doing his best but I could tell this was going to be a long and challenging day in the saddle for us both. By the time the hills started he was already complaining about his legs being tired and we still had 40KM of muddy hills to go! But I stayed optimistic and knew that we would get there eventually, even if we showed up barely able to walk. The long climbs gave us the chance to get to know each other and he shared his dream of becoming a teacher like his uncle and also of starting a community center in his village. Like Jacob in Kenya I told him I would support him in creating the plan and getting out to folks to help in funding. I’m happy to report that we have an awesome plan in the works and are in contact weekly! Very exciting!

Our ride that day was nothing short of astonishing. We went through 3 different ecosystems, over two major passes, experienced rain, sun, wind, and temperatures from scorching hot heat and near freezing at the passes. Bamboo forests, rain forests, alpine passes, the muddiest roads so far in Africa, a nice fall, blood, sweat and near tears were the theme of the day. But we worked beautifully as a team. His legs miraculously got stronger as we moved closer to Kisoro and we became one machine tackling hill after hill.

Oh, and we got yet one more dose of integrity and hospitality with the Ugandan people when a very invaluable part of my tripod fell off due to all the rattling and rolling and it is a crucial and almost irreplaceable part, especially in Africa! It is my main tripod and I was bummed to have it out of commission. But just at the top of our last major pass a huge truck flags us down and hands us the piece that was in the middle of the road way back 15KM! They did not ask for money, but just smiled and beeped us on! I do love Uganda!

We arrived in Kisoro just as it was getting dark. We only rode about 70KM but it took us all day. Granted we stopped a lot to film, meet the locals and relax, but it was a grinder of a day indeed! We went right to the Travelers Rest Hotel and boy were we a sight rolling into this classy lodge! We were head to toe mud, sweat, and blood combined with wide, beady eyes from adrenaline filled yet energy depleted bodies. The managers had mercy on us and took us in like family with a posh room for only 20 bucks.

I sent a trembling Innocent into the shower first and I went to work cleaning the bike and all the gear so we could bring it into the room. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but it had to be done. Innocent came out of the hot shower still shivering cold, even in his fresh clothes. I was a bit worried about him so I took him over to the fire and moved over the Dutch tourists and bought him some food. He was a mess, but after some food and the fire he was glowing with glee and sharing the day’s adventures with the others.

I spent the evening by the fire relaxing and reminiscing with Innocent, sharing stories with the European tourists of our crazy adventure together. He was so content and proud. But the time came where I had to bid him farewell to spend the night with his aunt down the road from the hotel. Tears welled up in our eyes as we hugged goodbye. I can honestly say I have a friend for life with my boy Innocent and I encourage you to meet this guy if you head to Uganda. He’s a stellar chap!

As if this was not enough adventure, my Ugandan friend Pam was making the mission of all time in the pouring rain to come and be the first and only female Ugandan rider. Our plan was for her to accompany me to the boarder of Rwanda and she would be meeting me in a few hours at the hotel! We were in touch via SMS and she was giving me the play by play of her own wild Ugandan trip including a broken down bus from Kampala to Kabale and a muddy minibus trip of almost 5 hours to go just 100 kilometers. Her messages were brief and frustrated, “Stuck in the mud”. “Stuck in the mud again and still far from Kisoro”. I actually felt guilty drinking my tasty beverages by the warm fire with a full belly knowing the hell she was going through.

Pam finally arrived near midnight totally exhausted from a full day of travel to Kisoro. She was such a trooper but was not in the mood for food or drinks or much conversation. We both hit the hay totally dead to the world and I was up early getting the bike cleaned and ready for our boarder attempt to Rwanda. We got a late start after a huge breakfast and a morning massage but the rain cleared brining warm and humid weather.

We hopped on the road that we both assumed headed to the Rwandan boarder and it was all downhill so we were loving it! The road was in horrible condition with huge rocks, puddles and mud but it was fun going down. But the shocker of the day came when we hit a fork in the road and asked which way to the boarder of Rwanda. The answer was back the way we came! We were actually on the road to the border of Congo! Yikes! Luckily we had only gone about 4KM, but we still had to climb back up the nasty roads in the crazy afternoon heat so we were pretty tired when we got back to kilometer 0!

Luckily the correct road to the border of Rwanda was not all that challenging and once Pam was able to get her breath back we got to chatting and doing some filming. She gave a stunning riding interview, which one day you will all hear, sharing her values, desires, goals and ambitions as a modern day Ugandan professional. Pam is an investment banker by profession and is highly educated, conscious and cultured. She’s also very generous, giving and a totally sweet woman. We enjoyed learning from each other, sharing our similarities and differences in perspective and philosophizing about all kinds of topics from business, to family, to politics and more. Another great gal to visit if you make your way to Kampala in Uganda!

My last taste of Uganda were the gently rolling hills with endless varieties of trees and plants, views of numerous volcanoes where mountain gorillas roam, and picturesque Ugandan villages where kids chased us smiling and giggling, woman carried their standard loads of water and wood on their heads dressed in bright attire, and simple rural living brought warm feelings of gratitude to every pore of my body.

As we crossed the border and exchanged the raw dirt roads of Uganda for the perfectly paved roads Rwanda I knew in my heart I would be back. And I will. Uganda is currently my favorite African country, and I announce that without hesitation. The beautiful natural wonders, varying culture, stunning music and especially the people have captured my heart. Through all the ups and downs, both physically and emotionally, I have grown in countless ways.

Two thumbs up! Go there!

Big love from Cotonou, Benin where I’m gearing up for the West African expedition to
Morocco :)


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