Part IV

The Journey Home


Part I Part II Part III Part IV

"My latest worst experience..."
Written May 9, 2001 at an Internet Café in Kampala, Uganda

My latest worst experience was my last bus ride on my way back from Sudan. The bus I rode on had three seats on the right side of the aisle and two on the left. I sat on the two-seat side, but there were three of us in the seat. The aisle was crowded, and about eight people were in the doorway in front of me, including at least two hanging out the door. Chickens cackled somewhere behind my seat. My butt is still sore after sitting jammed in one position for 9 (nine) hours straight. Three people around me vomited, including my seatmate. I guess the average African constitution isn't used to bumpy bus rides.

Africa is super cheap. I'm staying in a decent room for $8 a night. It has a toilet but no toilet seat, and the whole bathroom acts as a shower. I ate at a SUPER NICE Chinese restaurant tonight for US$3.50. They have waiters that just stand there and wait on you.

"The brakes completely failed"
Approximately May 13, 2001

Today I had an interesting near death experience. I was driving a Land Cruiser pick-up
An old
Land Cruiser
into town to do some shopping, when the brakes completely failed. I pumped them to no avail. Luckily I was able to coast to a turnout used by buses, and with the help of the emergency brake, I stopped. I got out to investigate, and I couldn't believe what I saw. The back left tire and axle had come loose and were now a full three feet out from the side of the vehicle. Apparently the wheel bearings had decided to fall apart. Fortunately they decided to die on a level stretch of road - if it had been on a hill I might not be writing this email. After some time we located a beat up old tow truck. They had to tow us from behind since it was a back wheel that had come off. I got the fun job of steering the vehicle backwards. I wonder if the adventures will ever end.

Do You have Shoes?
U.S. Customs, May 17, 2001

On my way through U.S. customs I came to an x-ray machine where they wanted to x-ray my luggage. The guy at the front of the machine asked me if I'd been on a farm. I said, "No, not really, but I've been around cows." He said that if there were cows then I had been on a farm. I didn't like his simplistic approach, but he silenced my rebuttal with another question - "Do you have shoes?" This one really took me by surprise. Of course I had shoes; I was wearing a pair and had several more in my bag. "Yes," I replied, "I've got several pairs of shoes." This was met with a look of dismay. The x-ray guy said to the man next to him, "This guy has shoes." This man in turn yelled the message back to a butcher-like figure wearing green rubber gloves and an apron. He met me on the other side of the x-ray machine and asked for my dirtiest shoes. I thought a moment, and then decided to give him my sandals, since that was what I had worn the most while I was in the bush. He looked disappointed, but ran them through a disinfectant bath anyway and let me go.

Note: Now that I've recovered from malaria and given this episode some thought, I realize that they must have been screening for hoof and mouth disease.

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