So I have found my next race- the MTN Kampala Half Marathon on November 24th. This race will be vastly different from the Haile Marathon as this race will be quiet larger. There are 20,000 runners, the vast majority of which are Africans. I have seen ads for the race in the newspaper and on TV, but I have no idea what the water stops are like, if there is energy gel along the course, or what the route looks like. I am just planning on signing up and embracing whatever I find along the way.
I have continued running since the marathon, however, my runs have become quiet time consuming lately, and not because I am running for a long time, but rather due to the adventures I have encountered along the way. Take Saturday for example, I went for my usual out and back run, but on the way back I stopped to say hi to a fried on the road. She told me was headed in the same direction as me, but needed to finish washing a few things. Okay, I thought it will be about a ten minute wait, no big deal. Boy, was I wrong. Forty five minutes later after finishing washing, drying, and hanging a large pile of clothes, feeding us pineapple from her garden, and showing us every picture she owned I told her we had to go. By this time it was midday and the sun was high in the sky, and it was hot! I was still sweaty from my run, and the flies were loving the dirt on my legs. The girl, Kyomange is such a sweet girl, and I enjoy her company very much, but at the same time I couldn’t stop thinking about how much stuff I had to get done that day around the house. I constantly have to remind myself that we operate on African time here (add an additional half hour at least to whatever time you are told.)
Fast forward to the following Saturday. I went outside, opened the gate and took a look around checking for bodas that were on the road, and gauging where I could step so I wouldn’t get my shoes immediately muddy and full of dirt. I wasn’t outside the gate for more then 20 seconds when four village kids spotted me. I was planning on running with one of them, but the other three said they were on the way to collect firewood in Omokuku (I still have yet to figure out if Omokuku was the place the firewood was at or the Rutooro name for firewood.) Anyway, Omokuku was in the same direction I was planning on heading for my run. So I followed the four children who bypassed the main road I was planning on taking, and instead ran parallel to the road on a very narrow “trail,” which was really just a small path between the bush. Eventually the bush trail connected with the main road to the tea plantation, and one-by-one the kids seemed to fall behind, except for one, Karim, who ran with me for the 3 ½ miles amongst the tea plantations to the tea factory. We touched the gate, smiled at each other for making it that far, took a deep breath, and ran back. However, the way back was hilly, and soon Karim fell behind, but I reconnected with the other three who were waiting on the side of the road resting. The two youngest ran back with me for a bit and convinced me to stop for firewood. Again thinking it would just be a short ten minute stop I agreed. We walked down a “path” among the bush that they created. Stupid of me to think the firewood would just be a short distance from the road. Nope, after a good 10 minute walk I was lost and had no idea which way was out, but the kids went to work with the panga chopping tree branches and gathering it in a pile. During that time we also had an hour long chat about the plan they had created on how I was going to take them to America. The two were brother and sister and were about 7 and 10 years old. The 7 year old had said that I could place her in a bag and carry her on to the plane. She promised me that she wouldn’t say a word and that her mom had already given permission for me to take her. This girl is one of my favorites, and I would love to take her back home, but that is not possible, and unfortunately she thinks the only thing standing between her and America is a passport. Keep in mind she would have to go at least an hour a way to the next biggest town to get a passport, and there is a pretty good chance she has never been in a car let alone even seen the next town. Anyway, back to the firewood. So the brother, Ivan, found some matoke leaves in the forest which he used to wrap the firewood up with, and he then proceeded to place his sister, Patience’s, jacket on my head and then the load of firewood on top of that. I was planning on running back the rest of the way once i followed the children to the main road. However, I ended up carrying the firewood a good mile and a half back home. We had to pass through the trading center to get to Patience and Ivan’s home, so of course the Africans- children and adults alike got a good laugh at a mzungu carrying a 15 pound load of firewood on her head. One man commented “you are an African woman now, why don’t you marry an African man?”
The next day I stopped to again say hi to one of my village friends, Eva, towards the end of my run. She works in a shop and has a 2 year old daughter, Irene. I met her in 2009 when she was in Kyarusozi primary school. In 2012 I was surprised and sad to find out that she now was pregnant. She was 20 at the time, and had a bright future in front of her. She is doing well now, and again what I thought would be a quick stop to say hi to her ended up with me following her to her home and her showing me every plant in her garden. Sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, beans, avocado, jackfruit, chickens, pigs, bananas, matoke, etc. Her garden was beautiful, and she was determined to show me how to dig for large sweet potatoes. After a good half hour of traversing the garden I was back to my run- and only because I had to get back to the house for another scheduled activity.
Like I said my runs have become an adventure. What tomorrow will bring, well who knows…