Ugh...can a girl get a night's sleep here! Some of you saw me typing and messaging on Facebook at 4:00am my time. I fell asleep last night around midnight and woke up at 2:45 and never really went back to sleep until 6:30. Unfortunately, breakfast was at 9:00 with another meeting. I've never battled jet lag this bad before. Tonight might be a different story. I finally got to ride...and not just any ride. More about that later.
Jake and I had a final debrief over breakfast and then met up with a man, Ndobo Magunga. What a great name! He owns two coffee washing stations and is looking to expand his business. I'm sure he will have a need for the Project Rwanda bike in the near future.
Checked out, said my goodbyes to Jake and jumped in a car to be driven to Ruhengeri, my new home for the next four months. It's about 100 kilometers to Ruhengeri which sits on the northern border of Rwanda and Uganda. All day I have been trying to figure out how to express in words the amazing scenery and people I encountered during our two hour ride. I didn't take pictures other than one because I was simply mesmerized. To explain it would be doing it an injustice. If you've ever driven from San Jose, Costa Rico to Jaco on the Pacific Ocean, think of that drive times ten. What made the drive so amazing was not only the lucious green countryside with it's terraced farms rising thousands of feet above the valley, it was all the people walking along the road. I really felt I had stepped into a page from National Geographic. The women walking along the road were dressed in long colorful skirts carry everything you can imagine balanced on top of their heads. There's not a fast food joint, billboard, or brick sound wall anywhere in sight! Heaven...
When I got to Ruhengeri I met Felix, the Project Rwanda assistant. He's Rwandan and he showed me around the house. We walked over to my new house which I'll be moving into in the next couple of weeks with the new Bike Director. Those are the pictures I posted. Then onto the warehouse where all the bikes are being stored. The goal is 2009 bikes in 2009. I have a lot of work to do.
When we got back to the house, Jock was home and the very first thing he asked me was if I wanted to go for a quick ride. Hello? Where's my bike? He put me on a carbon frame CR1 Scott road bike and off we went. We road through the town of Ruhengeri and headed north on the road to Uganda. I can't believe I was on a bike in the middle of Africa riding with the first American to ride in the Tour de France. Is this really happening to me?
There were so many people walking along the road. Instead of yelling at anyone that you are coming up on them you hiss. It will take me a while to get used to hissing at people but that's the appropriate response. It was interesting watching people stare. No one was ever disrepectful about it. It was simply completely out of their realm of thinking seeing two Muzungu's (white people) riding bikes down the road, especially seeing a female Muzungu...on a bike!
Jock and I were rolling down a fast hill when all of a sudden about 50 young kids, mostly girls come running from their school out to the road to see us. People here are so happy and their lives are so extremely difficult. I have such respect for these people. It puts everything in perspective. We should all be thankful we live where we do and have the opportunities we have.
One of the pictures on the new post is at the Ugandan border. We could have gone it, however, it's a single entry visa for $50. It is very surreal to think last week I was riding the loop at Red Rock and today I'm riding from Rwanda to Uganda.
After a hot shower to wash off all the malaria carrying mosquitos stuck to my body, Rebecca came over and Jock made us dinner. Pasta. Of course! Rebecca got here a few months ago. She's a Peace Corp worker. So...I will sleep well tonight. I had a great day, a spectacular ride, a home made pasta dinner and hanging out with Jock, Rebecca and Congo...the cat. Life is good!