View Full Version : Travelogue from Uganda

Duck on Wheels
03-25-2009, 03:41 AM
Just back from a week in Kampala, Uganda. No, I didn't take my Bike Friday with me. "Tuesday Weld" stayed safe at home, and I stayed as safe as I could in the chaotic traffic of Kampala. I managed not to get run over and not to fall into any "mzunga traps" (up to meter-deep potholes and open sewers in the roads. "Mzungu" (feminine: mzunga), I was told, translates to "easy living" and is anything from an admiring to affectionate to ironic nickname for visitors from wealthier countries, the sort of folks who don't know how to keep an eye on the road so as to avoid potholes and open sewers, or how to balance on sewer banks while traffic wizzes by just millimeters away :eek:. I did observe a lot of local cyclists. Also lots of "boda boda" -- small motorcycles; the name refers to the service of selling rides to people crossing borders where you have to walk a considerable distance over a no-mans-land from emigration control on one side to immigration control on the other. Only a fraction of a percentage of boda boda drivers had helmets, none of the pedal-powered cyclists, and none I saw carried extras for passengers. None of either bike category, not a one out of the thousands I saw, were driven/powered by women. I did see women as bike or boda boda passengers, but only sitting side-saddle. Straddling the bike (a lot safer!) is considered unfeminine. I could have opened up a whole new world of female cycling if I'd done some hill repeats on "Tuesday", wearing lycra and helmet. :D Maybe if I visit again some day. I did, while waiting for the shuttle back to the airport, see a wire sculpture of a female cyclist in a display case at the hotel. Too bad it wasn't for sale. :( Here are some pictures. Not great quality. The traffic shots were snapped through the window of the university transport van, moving. The wire sculpture was snapped with my cell phone camera through the glass of the display case. Look at the size of the loads being hauled on those pedal bikes! That's sugar cane on the one, I think, and obviously bananas on the other. I also saw some loaded with about 100 kg worth of water in cannisters, or stacks of lumber, furniture, even one with a big truck tire loaded on the back.

Mr. Bloom
03-25-2009, 04:07 AM
cool pics! And to think- most of the US states have laws that preclude use of a bike in those ways!

03-25-2009, 06:50 AM
Great little summary and photos, Duck! Were you in that part of Africa strictly for vacation or partially business purposes? Any particular reason why Uganda..?

03-25-2009, 06:54 AM
wonderful photos! I find your little sculpture quite ironic considering the status of women and bikes in that country. sidesaddle indeed.

Duck on Wheels
03-25-2009, 07:05 AM
I was there for a guest lecture and to give some moral support to a PhD student from there, doing her degree here. I'm one of her supervisors. She showed me 'round some of her field sites, we had a couple of supervision conversations, and my mere presence quashed some rumors that she'd been kicked off the PhD program and was just going through the motions.

04-02-2009, 12:00 PM
Duck, I enjoyed your write-up and the pics of Kampala. Those huge loads on bikes are very impressive.:cool:

04-02-2009, 12:28 PM
Wow - Duck - how cool!

I lived in up in Kampala when I was a kid for 6 years (from 1966 to 1972). It was a wonderful place and an incredible experience, all the more so because when you're a kid, you don't know it's an experience - it's just life.

My father has been back a few times (he is an oncologist/AIDS researcher), but I have never been back -- I would love to go, but I am afraid of how different it will be from my memories.

04-02-2009, 12:58 PM
Duck is in California now.

We just got back from Robinson's where her bike is having a day at the LBS spa. Tomorrow she'll have it fit for her, Saturday we'll do the Cindy, then back to the spa if Ruby Slippers (bike) needs a tweak.

We're so lucky here. Norway's a great place it seems they don't have the level of bike shop service we have. On the other hand I imagine you can get great cross country skis? It's also hard to find good mustard. ;)