We went on a boat trip to the source of the White Nile this morning. Afterwards, most of us wanted to go to Jinja town to obtain a local SIM card and to buy some essentials including water (which is always ridiculously expensive at our camps).
We negotiated with our boat drivers to bring us there and back again—Ugandan Shilling 50,000 (about USD14) seemed like a good deal for a 20 minutes’ boat ride fitting 10 people.
What we didn’t know, however, is that Jinja town was a 30 minutes’ walk from the shore—30 minutes underneath the burning sun.
By the time we finally reached the MTN office (MTN being one of the biggest mobile network operators in Uganda), we were all in dire need of some shade.
Fortunately, it was nice and cool inside—a modern air-conditioned office. Unfortunately, the local SIM card registration process took a colossal amount of time. While waiting for the clerk to find Austria amongst their list of countries (I think I’ll just put Australia going forward), I started to feel dizzy and week, so much so that my fellow riders helped me pull up a chair to sit down.
We took it out of the managers’ office. Instead of complaining, the clerks then went to also fetch chairs for my fellow riders in the queue—what nice service! However, I’m afraid the locals might have been less pleased with us jamming the office and getting special treatment.
When my new SIM card was finally working, I stayed back in the office to sit and close my eyes for a bit. Once I felt strong enough, I ventured back outside to continue with my shopping.
“Alex, are you sure you want to walk alone?” Marie (one of our new sectional riders all the way down to Cape Town, from Germany) came running after me.
“It’s OK, I will take care, no worries,” I told her.
With my new SIM card, I checked Googlemaps for the exact location of JAVA House. People had seen it on the way in yesterday. So I had brought my laptop with the plan to chill there and write my blog over lunch.
Bad news—JAVA House was another half hour walk away. I felt too weak to walk there, and too scared to take one of the common motorbike taxis.
So I just bought some water, soap and toilet paper, and slowly made my way back towards the lake, where the boat driver would pick us up again in an hours’ time.
Walking underneath the burning sun, I started to feel weaker and weaker—just as I had felt on our off-road days in Sudan. I rested in the shade, walked a bit, and rested in the shade of a tree again.
Nelson came along. He kindly offered to carry my water which made the walking a lot easier for me.
I took a nap on the boat ride back, and again as soon as we reached the camp. However, I couldn’t afford to nap too long. We had some dirt road days coming up, so I still needed to change my tires before 6pm. Around 4pm, it started to thunder. I had no choice but accomplish my duties before the storm hit us.
Fortunately, it had also cooled down instantly, and a refreshing breeze made me feel better again, just tired and drained of energy. I went to bed really early, hoping to get some good sleep before back again on the bike the next day.
I wasn’t that lucky. A bad diarrhea hit me by surprise and would keep me up all night. I had to run to the bathroom at least 10 times, always struggling to get there on time. Sometimes, I had barely crawled back inside my by now sweat-soaked sleeping bag inlet, and already needed to run back to the bathroom again.
I was not the only one. Half of our group had come down with diarrhea, to varying degrees. Interestingly, we full tour riders were effected more than the new sectional riders. This just shows what this constant physical effort does to our immune systems over time.
“Going into Jinja town was a stupid idea”, we would agreed. “All just for a stupid SIM card that we might as well have gotten along the way while cycling.” We had such a nice campsite. Instead of resting and chilling by the pool, we further drained our already almost fully depleted energy levels!
Stage: Rest day in Jinja (Uganda)
Cool in the morning and from late afternoon, very hot and sunny during the day.
I mentioned yesterday that the food at our camp was not too exciting. Having said that, we’ve all ordered international dishes. Tonight, I went for Fried Tilapia (the local fish). I expected something like fish nuggets, but look what I got:
It was so big I could barely finish half of it! This is perhaps another lesson learnt in itself: When in Rome, eat as the Romans eat 🙂
Taking a boat trip in the morning to the source of the White Nile, which was included in our tour.
A few of us went on a day trip for white water rafting. Jinja is the adventure capital of Eastern Africa, and rafting as well as kayaking are some of its most popular activities.
Even though I didn’t feel too well, I managed to change my tires without problems. So far, I had always needed help to get the back wheel back in. Last time, Deb had helped me out. She put the chain onto the lowest gear which did the trick. This time, I followed her advice (that I’m sure I had also received many times before, but forgotten over and over again). The wheel fit into place smoothly. Finally I will be prepared, should I ever have a puncture again on the road.