Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | November 3, 2010

End of the Road

i love this image!

love this picture!

Wednesday 11/3/10  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’m writing this post from a coffee shop that’s two blocks from my apartment.  I’m living in West Philadelphia now with my girlfriend.  In the last two months, my contract finished with Invisible Children in Uganda, I moved back to the US (and was awed by the fall foliage—check out the pics), and I started writing a manuscript for a book about the bicycle trip.

For the next five months, I’ll work on the manuscript full-time, adding to and editing the writing I created throughout my ride.  I have a Word document with about 300 pages of trip writing in it.  I’m excited to have the chance to go through this writing and strengthen it.  Often while writing during the trip, I found myself racing a dying computer battery or exhaustion at night in my tent.  The content I put on the site was quickly created and posted before I had much of a chance to edit it.  I’m hoping the finished manuscript will be a more accurate and polished representation of what I experienced on the trip than the writing on this site was.

So, three years after I set off from a New Jersey suburb by bike, I’m both sad and proud to end this chapter of my life.  The trip didn’t follow the exact route I thought it would, but that’s completely fine by me:  it pushed me, allowed me to listen, and helped—at least for a few years—to satiate my curiosity.  It was a physical test, of course, but it was more challenging mentally and emotionally than I expected it to be.  More nights than I revealed on this site I spent lonely and restless in my tent.  I sobbed or collapsed, filled with self-doubt, on more than one occasion.  I entertained dark thoughts on desolate stretches of road; I fought to quiet an ever racing mind.  But the trip exposed a new world to me, one filled with good people and sacred scenery.  It unmasked the “news” we receive from mass media for the nonsense I now know it to be.  It taught me how to better control my thinking, to be a more conscious person.  Perhaps more than anything else, though, the trip taught me that the world is still big, that people aren’t out to get us, and that we all want the same things in life:  love, health, security, knowledge, opportunity.

Because the world isn’t a scary place, and because human-powered traveling is just so damn rewarding, I’m convinced this trip won’t be my last.

To those of you who encouraged me along the way with your comments, emails, and kindness:  I’ll never be able to fully explain how much those small acts meant to me. Thank you.

More to come as life unfolds,

Andrew

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | September 5, 2010

Weekend at Sipi Falls

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sipi falls black and white

sipi falls

Sunday 9/5/10  Gulu, Uganda

Last weekend I visited Sipi Falls, a famous area in southeastern Uganda near the Kenyan border.  Five co-workers and I spent two days hiking, eating delicious food, sitting by a fireplace, and reading.  The trip was so relaxing.  A four hour hike the first day took us to three different large waterfalls.  The scenery in this part of Uganda looks very different from what we have up here in Gulu:  more bananas, more palms, more things growing on top of things growing on top of things.  Despite getting a flat tire on the way down and realizing our jack didn’t work (now I know that 12 people can lift a car long enough to change a tire if they need to!), the trip was blast.  Here are a few pics. Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | August 26, 2010

Trying (and Failing) to Connect on a Ugandan Road Trip

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Thursday 8/26/10  Gulu, Uganda

Below is the second feature piece I wrote for Glimpse.  I worked with an editor to see the piece through four drafts over the course of a few months.  Although its theme isn’t the cheeriest one, it accurately captures a facet of my experience in Uganda.

As I pulled onto Kampala Road, that madhouse stretch of tarmac that connects Gulu and Uganda’s capital, I shifted into fourth—my bike’s highest gear—and pulled hard on the throttle. Air whizzed into my helmet. The greens of the head-high cassava plants and stalks of sugar cane at the road’s edge began to soften and blur.

Zigzagging down quiet dirt roads through the Ugandan bush, I traveled for two hours without seeing a motorized vehicle. Everywhere around me, lean Ugandans were slamming hoes down into the rain-softened earth, preparing their land for planting. I putted along on my tiny ride, swerving around puddles and potholes as best I could, but crashing my bike twice into ditches lining the road.

Having never set off on any sort of motorcycle trip before, and with my past riding experience limited to quick runs into town, I struggled that first day. My bike felt clunky and slow in the mud; my wrists were sore by lunch. I knew nothing about motorcycle maintenance. I had no planned route, no map. All I knew was that I wanted to head south, and I knew I only had four days to work with.

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | August 1, 2010

Giving More Than We Thought We Gave

24,000 books delivered to our IC office in Gulu

Sunday 8/1/10  Gulu, Uganda

Below is a piece I just had published on Glimpse.org.  This is one of two feature pieces I wrote for the website.  It went through four drafts and was written over the course of three months.

A slow, thick summer breeze carried grimy city humidity down New York’s Fifth Avenue. As a river of lunchtime crowds coursed around us, I stood with a chatty girl my age. With her clipboard, brochures, and pressed shirt, she looked identical to her co-workers scattered up and down the block. We were both sweating—she from the heat, I from the awkwardness of the moment. Knowing her ability to keep my attention would directly determine the success of her pitch, she told me about life in India; about how desperate the children were there; about how, for a price, I could support a child and be the change I wanted to see in the world.

After half an hour, I found myself signing her clipboard and turning over the number to my debit card. I walked away from her feeling like I had just done right, like I had done something that would make my parents proud. My girlfriend at the time later told me the way I acted on the street that day was one of the reasons she loved me—I was compassionate.

Now, after spending the past year in Uganda living amidst the fallout of giving, I barely recognize the person I once was.

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | July 23, 2010

Elephant Men Vs. Men Who Sleep

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Friday 7/23/10  Gulu, Uganda

**This is a short piece I wrote for Glimpse during the spring Correspondents Semester.**

South Africa’s striker sprinted at full speed with the ball, a rocket of legs and swinging arms tearing across the field.  For a split second the man enjoyed a wide patch of grass all to himself, but only for a second.  His fastest wasn’t fast enough.  One of Mexico’s defenders caught up with him and made a lunge at the striker’s feet, tapping the ball with the tip of his cleat just hard enough to push it out of bounds.

Hopes dashed, the two men sitting next to me threw up their arms and jumped from their seats.

“No!  No!”

“Elephant!  That man is an elephant, seriously!”

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | May 30, 2010

From Bleating to Bleeding

Saturday 5/30/10  Gulu, Uganda

Here’s a video of the goat being slaughtered.

Note: This video is a wee bit graphic.  Just a wee bit.

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | May 30, 2010

Blood in the Alley and Soda Bottle Cows

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Twenty of us circled the guesthouse’s only pool table, a lopsided clunker with faded green felt, and—hypnotized—watched for hours as teams chased the elusive final black ball, the jokar.  The first official pool tournament for our organization, a methodically documented, highly competitive affair, saw staffers from two different departments go head to head in 18 games of pool.  There were upsets; there were shutouts; and there was even a little trash talking, a friendly shove or two.  I had already played a game, and so when I pulled my beer to my lips for a swig, the fleshy bit of my right hand between my thumb and forefinger smelled of baby powder.

David, a co-worker, walked into the bamboo and sheet metal shack that housed the pool table and waved me over to him.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You want to see the goat?  We’re getting it ready now.”

I followed him down a narrow ally adjacent to the guesthouse. At the end of the ally, tied to the rusty base of a water tank, was a healthy looking, coffee-colored goat.  As I was taking pictures of it and trying to pet its horns, David summoned two guesthouse employees—one shirtless man who carried a kitchen knife, and one young guy in a white tank top and a baseball cap.  Before I could even say hello to the two men, I felt David’s hand on my chest.  “Stand back.  You’re going to get sprayed if you stand there.”

“Sprayed?”

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | May 27, 2010

Teaching Ronald Reagan

creative writing class in uganda

Thursday 5/27/10  Gulu, Uganda

I have a student in my class named Ronald Reagan. Okot Ronald Reagan.

Here in Uganda, it’s common for people to name their children after famous Americans.  The guard at our house, for example, is named Abraham Lincoln.  Like his historical namesake, Ugandan Abe is tall, introspective, and knowledgeable on a number of subjects (he brought a dying avocado tree in our yard back to life in the blink of an eye).  A guard that sometimes subs for Abe is named…no joke…Michael Jackson.  As silly as it seems, I never cease to find humor in these names.  The other day, as we were waiting for a few more students to file into class, I wanted to make a formal declaration that the lesson would only begin once the Prez arrived.

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | May 22, 2010

May Trip Home

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Saturday 5/22/10  Gulu, Uganda

I just returned to Gulu from a three-week trip home to New Jersey.  During my visit, I spent two weeks with family and friends in Jersey and one week with Erica in New England.  The trip was energizing.  I was home during the height of spring, so everything was in full bloom and coursing with life.  On the road trip, Erica and I drove north slowly with no set destination, making it as far as northern Vermont before we had to turn around.  Many of the days the weather was perfect:  mostly clear skies, high 70s, and low humidity.  We drove with the top down and zigzagged our way across Vermont using only its quiet, two-lane roads.  Between this road trip, some of my mom’s amazing home-cooked meals, and time spent with friends, the visit home provided me the exact energy boost I needed to make it through the chaotic summer ahead.  Below are some pictures from the trip.

Read More…

Posted by: andrewedwardmorgan | May 22, 2010

Cloud Stories

skies over Gulu

skies over Gulu

Saturday 5/22/10  Gulu, Uganda

This is what the afternoon sky often look like during the rainy season here.  !!!  Click on the images for more detail.

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