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The Long Way Home

— October 28, 2011

It’s been two months. I’m not yet settled. From Uganda’s airport at Entebbe I hopped to Nairobi then to Khartoum then Cairo. Egypt was funny.  A stew of ancient high culture peppered with moments of anarchy, beautiful crumbling buildings to riot police in black with shields and bats. I guess revolutions do that.  I took a train down to Luxor to see the ancient ruins at Thebes. They were neat. And on the way back, the train was delayed for eight hours because mobs were killing Coptic Christians over the train tracks. It was fascinating though.  They joked about who would be president and it was funny because no one has half a clue. I got seriously scammed and apparently that’s normal. A solider dragged me across Tahir Square for taking photos. Egypt,  intimidating, but also beautiful.

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Dreams of My President’s Father

— August 10, 2011

It really is quite amazing. The father to most powerful person in the world grew up in a hut on the other side of the world. Who would’ve thought? From here, Kogelo, Kenya?

Barack Obama still has family in Kogelo, namely his grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama. By American standards she is his step grandmother, but by African tradition she is his grandmother. She raised his father. After his undergrad, when President Obama went to Kenya, it was her home in Kogelo he visited.

Her home is like that of many grandmothers, decorated with the grandkids’ achievements. In this case, senatorial and presidential campaign advertisements. Most are signed by the President, with a note addressed to Granny Sarah.

I had the honor of briefly speaking to her, through a family member who helps out, translating and organizing her business. I asked to what she attributed Barack’s success. She replied that it is a great thing, so great it can only be attributed to God’s hands. She said that he has much work left. There is not yet peace on earth. She hoped that during his presidency we would all become better at living with one another.

Obama’s grandma – she keeps it real.

Her life, and the village’s, has changed dramatically. A couple months back Al Qaeda said they were going to assassinate her.  Regardless, most days she receives visitors. The government built a police station to protect her. The primary and secondary school are named after Barak Obama. The road is getting paved. They’re building a welcome center and small guest house for the President’s impending visit. Funny the turns chance takes.

in Kogelo, the Obama's ancestral village

in Kogelo, the Obama's ancestral village

they're building a new road for Obama's September visit

they're building a new road for Obama's September visit

downtown kogelo - yes we can!

downtown kogelo - yes we can!

the obama welcome center and new road

the obama welcome center and new road

Granny Sarah Obama

Granny Sarah Obama

man on the right is the local chairman - he was the first Kenyan politician invited stateside by Obama

man on the right is the local chairman - he was the first Kenyan politician invited stateside by Obama

the primary school is also named after Obama

the primary school is also named after Obama

in Kogelo, the Obama's ancestral villagethey're building a new road for Obama's September visitdowntown kogelo - yes we can!the obama welcome center and new roadGranny Sarah Obamaman on the right is the local chairman - he was the first Kenyan politician invited stateside by Obamathe primary school is also named after Obama

Oh me god

— August 3, 2011

That was the most intense stressful airport departure of my life times ten – and I’ve missed two flights.

If I had to guess, based off the reactions I got, no one has ever bicycled to Kampala’s international airport, then taken apart the bicycle at the security check point, placed the pieces on the scanner bed, then made a box out of scrap cardboard, tape and plastic wrap and somehow gotten the bike on the plane without paying the prescribed fee.

Also I was running really late so they had me skip all the lines, security, customs and immigration. Intense day. Also it rained on the 40k ride in so I’m drenched in water and sweat with a good amount of bike grease mixed in.

But I still have mobile internet, i.e. it’s all good. I have a couple day layover in Cairo then home!

The Last Hundred Miles

— August 2, 2011

South-eastern Uganda. A hundred mile bike ride sounds like a long one – unless you’ve been biking for thousands. To Kampala I rode mostly on a dirt track. It was the largest road within 20 miles. It was surprisingly poor, tightly packed with people. (Hard to find quiet places to pee – a good measure of population density!) There was no electrification. I saw three secondary schools.

south eastern Uganda was surprisingly poor

south eastern Uganda was surprisingly poor

making the chapati at night

making the chapati at night

there was no electricity in this town

there was no electricity in this town

everyone gathered around the movie theater - a 10 inch screen powered by a putput

everyone gathered around the movie theater - a 10 inch screen powered by a putput

motorbikes are an important form of transport

motorbikes are an important form of transport

as African bicycles are single speeds they push up hill

as African bicycles are single speeds they push up hill

source of the nile!!!

source of the nile!!!

not actually the source - the real one is in Burundi

not actually the source - the real one is in Burundi

the Nile at sunset

the Nile at sunset

nile take two

nile take two

near Jinja, Uganda

near Jinja, Uganda

south eastern Uganda was surprisingly poormaking the chapati at nightthere was no electricity in this towneveryone gathered around the movie theater - a 10 inch screen powered by a putputmotorbikes are an important form of transportas African bicycles are single speeds they push up hillsource of the nile!!!not actually the source - the real one is in Burundithe Nile at sunsetnile take twonear Jinja, Uganda

Slept Here / Ben Fell Down a Hole

— August 1, 2011

Kapoeta, South Sudan. Never mind that half the building was blown out and the walls were peppered with bullet holes, we were lounging in the restaurant to the town’s finest hotel and we were going to enjoy ourselves. A couple more beers, then we would camp in a local businessman’s backyard. Before we could leave though, a man wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt announced, “I am from the government. These two are my responsibility. Nothing bad will happen to them.” It was arranged that we would stay in the hotel. Awkward, but okay. Not okay, and way more awkward, two hours later Ben was at the bottom of a twenty foot hole screaming for help. read more…

Slept Here: The Christ Manifestation Ministries

— July 31, 2011

The Christ Manifestation Ministries’ church in Torit, South Sudan

The Christ Manifestation Ministries’ church in Torit, South Sudan

phones off plz

phones off plz

pastor peter in his church

pastor peter in his church

the road

the road

we stayed in pastor peter's rented hut

we stayed in pastor peter's rented hut

hut interior

hut interior

mobile phones truly are ubiqutous

mobile phones truly are ubiqutous

The Christ Manifestation Ministries’ church in Torit, South Sudanphones off plzpastor peter in his churchthe roadwe stayed in pastor peter's rented huthut interiormobile phones truly are ubiqutous