It’s dirty work…

…riding to my office that is! I have started riding a mountain bike to my new office in the forest at The Recreation Project. Riding on a boda (motorbike taxi) up Lacor/Juba road is not fun as it’s the main road to Juba, South Sudan and therefore has many large trucks and buses rumbling along it. To make matters worse it’s a dirt road, making it a dust bowl when it’s  dry and a swamp when it’s wet – there is no in between! The fun alternative is to take a mountain bike down the small tracks and trails through the villages to Lacor. It’s about 7km and worth every peddle! Some pics and random anecdotes from my ride to work…

Mud, mud glorious mud! I end up covered in mud most days – thankfully The Recreation Project has showers.

Getting lost!! I went a good couple of km out of my way the first time I rode to work but I have now cut my 55min ride down to 30mins.

As I leave work for the day, I am swarmed by school children on their way home too. They call out hi, ciao or nihow (many are taught by Italian Nuns but I have no idea where they have been learning Mandarin!), laugh at me, try to catch me up and touch me, have races behind me, jump out of the way at the last minute – so many fun games they can play with me!

Having to say ‘Apwoyo’ to every person I pass while puffing away up a hill or trying to dodge potholes.

Getting very close to running over chickens on several occasions and nearly even a baby goat one afternoon – oops!

Overtaking 4WDs and playing chicken with bodas! Uphill right of way doesn’t exist here, the biggest vehicle always goes first. Although a 4WD did pull over for me when I caught him up on a particularly pot-holed road, giving me thumbs up and a big grin as I rode past.

The shocked look on a boda passenger’s face when I flew between her boda and another cyclist navigating the pot-holes downhill, the grin on her face as the boda overtook me and the even more astonished look on her face as I caught the boda up again going up the hill on the other side (not many people have bikes with gears)!

Flying off my bike when I hit the bricks someone had used to fill in the potholes (and trying not to freak out about the possibility of snakes hiding in the long grass I just landed in) or face-planting off my bike and having passers-by laugh at me!

Seeing cows grazing and football training taking place on the same pitch.

Finding an impressive cathedral tucked away down a dirt road, getting lost on this road and asking a lovely nun for directions.

Making a ‘brrring’ sound to let people know I am coming (yes, I need to buy a bell).

The grins and waves I get from little old ladies carrying massive loads on their heads. One even asked me how my ‘baby’ was – referring to my backpack! Women here carry loads on their heads and babies on their backs so I must look really odd to them.

Inadvertently getting into ‘boy-racer’ style show downs with young guys also riding bikes!

Always bumping into people I know on my ride home and stopping for a chat.

Traffic Jam! A very heavy sack of charcoal on the back of the bike he is straining to push uphill.

I still live in the same house down Moroto Road so I pass by the Gulu Disabled Person’s Unions (where I was based for my previous job) every day. This means I can stop to watch the wheelchair basketball and catch up with my former workmates and beneficiaries on a regular basis. One of them described me as going ‘terrible fast’ when I passed him by!
Things I am thankful for: no broken bones!

Prayer requests: no broken bones!

Muddy kisses xx

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About Grace

In 2011, after six years living the city life in London and with a Masters in NGO Management under my belt I decided it was time to put theory into practice. I spent 2012 living in northern Uganda working with children with disabilities and with youth at an adventure therapy centre. I then came home to NZ to spend time with my family and friends, and to enjoy the outdoors lifestyle. A year later and I am on the move again, this time to a small island nation in the South Pacific. For the next two years I will be living on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, working on an economic development project for World Vision. All thoughts shared in these blogs are my own and do not reflect those of any of the organisations I work with.
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