I intentionally started this post with what I will mostly rave about
If YOU told me 20 years ago, while I was still back in Masanafu – a small village in Uganda with constant warm weather (mostly between 19-29°C), THAT one day I will look at small slivers of ice (snow) as part of my next weather patterns for a couple of years, I would swear one of us is crazy, and CLEARLY not me
And no, this is not my naïve-self speaking; growing up in an area crossed by the EQUATOR bestows a climatologically unique mentality that deprives the mindset of seasonal imaginations
Experience is INDEED the best teacher
And from my experience, this kinda mindset only gets UNLOCKED once one sets foot out of the country and its neighbours – or more correctly, crosses the tropics
Honestly speaking, the movies don’t do seasons an iota of justice
It was only when I was in Europe that I fully understood why people wear jackets, scarves and coats while the SUN fully and brightly shone out during WINTER.
Watching people abroad do this, as I basked in the comfort of Uganda’s warmth was ridiculous!
The sun being out automatically meant WARMTH
ONLY AND ONLY if: should it rain or get to 3 am in the night, SHOULD someone get a jacket to warm themselves up – and that’s if they must step out into the “cold”.
As we speak, that is no longer a “truth” anymore from the seasons I have now experienced in the places I have been to so far
Plus, while my tropically-raised self went through all these climatic changes(beyond the tropics), it’s become more clear that the PLANT in me prefers warm weather and my hardiness for climatic adversity is undeniably LOW
Quick reminder; this is supposed to link to a CYCLING EXPERIENCE somewhere on the globe (bear with my rambling about weather, as talking about it is part of me now, after being an expat for more than a year)
Where was I?
Oh yeah, weather rambling
So, did you know that Ugandans never google anything in the lines of “weather in Kampala (or any Ugandan district for that matter)”?
I am forced to PAUSE and ASK myself – for starters –where would locals in Uganda’s rural areas get SMART PHONES from, to engage in such internet browsing
Anyhowwww, How I oftenly do that now, not even heaven’s dominion can comprehend who I have become
I guess that’s the whole point of travel – to experience and learn, unlearn and relearn.
Serious business, though!
Why is the weather chit-chat an important topic for me?
Weelllll, because my name is Nakandi and I have spent most of my life in Uganda (one of the few countries crossed by the equator), cycling through its capital’s streets and, I am now currently living in Cleveland, USA.
Quite a number of words there butttttt the key words are: Cycling; Cleveland, Living
In this blog post, I will be fleshing out how they are connected to the title of this blog and I promise not to ramble this time as in my previous blog posts.
LIVING and Cleveland
So, why Cleveland?
I came here to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.
Yes, you read that right
A PhD in Biomedical Engineering
As in, that stuff people say are hard – I am doing that stuff 😅(see how society impacts a person’s life purpose, and yes this stuff is actually HARD already!)
Geaography wise, Cleveland is a city in Ohio, one of the 50 states in the US, that is going to be my temporary home for the next not-sure-how-many years ~ 5 – 6 years, depending on how my research goes.
By the time I started to pen this down, Cleveland was experiencing AUTUMN
……..Or fall, as according to the English used here (I have stored full-blog worthy CONTENT in my brain about how many people I have misunderstood/ have misunderstood me because of the influence of my country’s colonial master on my upbringing)
The winters and autumn I experienced in Europe are nothing compared to the seasons in Cleveland.
You see, back at home in Kampala, the wet season comes with BOGGY streets and that is enough to NOT make me want to ride to and fro work, or anywhere for that matter.
In Cleveland however, once the ice decides to ice, my bike cannot bike😅
I can’t risk using my bike at allllllll
Whoever I happened to tell my unpleasant feelings for the cold while in Cleveland, their response was in the lines of how hard it will be for me to adjust to Cleveland’s weather and/or how impossible it will be for me to cycle on snowy days
The City of Cleveland
While the COLD worries me and I may QUICKLY come off as easily-depressed-in-winter, that might not be the case while in Cleveland
The city is endowed with a plethora of magnificent sights and places that most locals recommend as must-sees or life time experiences
Being close to the GREAT-LAKES REGION of North America, the lakes and sceneries fill the vicinity with an environment that is incredibly breath-taking under brisk clear skies regardless of the temperature, and obviosly better in summer because of longer days
Plus, the HISTORY
So much about this place and how it has come to be what it is now, is something worth experiencing in seasons like winter that don’t favour cycling.
My university, which has contributed a great deal to Cleveland’s history, has an active international-students’ body that put together a “bucket list of things” to do while in Cleveland before graduation for an international students like myself.
And thinking about how long I will be here for, I guess I am covered – future blogs will tell
If you have been to the US, you appreciated the UNWRITTEN law that requires a resident to own a car or anything with an engine, just to be able to get anywhere to get anything done.
Public transport is fairly unreliable
So besides my fanaticism about cycling, one of the things I had to secure first on my arrival in order to be able to get anywhere, WAS a bicycle (I trusted my strapping legs to function as an engine).
I got me a nice pre-owned Mongoose bike off Facebook market at 75 bucks which I have been using to mostly commute to and fro school campus and of course, explore my neighbourhood (which has a great number of potholes for a road in the US – especially the US I have always imagined)
While applying for my PhD, I remember highlighting in my motivational statement, that Cleveland was a place on my bucket list that I was looking forward to living in, given her immense geographical and cultural BEAUTY, plus rich historical background – google backed me up on this
It’s one thing writing a persuasive essay, it’s another putting your heart out in every SINGLE word for the genuine-sound of it
I had been looking forward to this one PLACE actually(like for reals😅) as the internet says good things about IT
I came here around summer time in 2022 which was an opportunity for me to check out my neighbourhood without complaining about the weather – we are talking about a tolerable 23-27°C moderately-humid summer
When autumn came around, tant mieux!
Perfect cycling days mostly happened during this season especially those where my choice would be “all the above” if it was a matter of answering to a multi-choice question:
- A day that had the sun shining bright
- A day that had a constant feel of natural “air conditioner”
- A day with extra spice from the riot of colorful foliage to stare at while cruising on my two wheels
- ALL THE ABOVE
Ohio is known for it’s magnificent “fall” foliage and best believe it, the experience is magical
Breathtaking sight of the red-yellow-orange coloured leaves, YES ✔✔✔✔✔✔
Getting rid of the shed leaves however, it didn’t seem EXCITING especially for the people that owned these lawns – NO ✖✖✖✖
I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would feel like if trees in Uganda shed their leaves at the rate they did in Cleveland and how tedious it would be for people back at home that have to manually get rid of leaves
Harked back to highschool memories when students were allocated chores(which we colloquially referred to as HOUSE WORK) with some students having their portion as sweeping the school’s compounds
It definitely was a nightmare, having to do that every SINGLE DAY, and now couldn’t imagine how worse it would get if Uganda had seasons.
Or further, if someone filmed you as you did so – this is what I did most of the time I went through Cleveland’s streets (feeling terrible now that I talk about it)
And for when it got NUMBING-COLD, I once in a while dared myself to do the RIDICULOUS
…..Climb a steepy hill on my bicycle, that’s on my way from the gym to my place, with only cycling shorts as my bottoms mostly after a spining class, as I learnt that exposure of inflamed tissues (knees for my case) to the COLD has a calming effect.
And on some of my OTHER trips, I have toured Cleveland with a cycling group that has been nothing but FUN
By fun I mean, on one of our cycling trips, our intention was to ride from one brewery to another in a span of about 30 km (for my case)
This, as you probably guessed, involved drinking a glass of beer or two for whichever pitstop we made and yes, it was absolutely RAD!
And on other trips, it was just simply riding through decidous-tree adorned streets of Cleveland’s neighbourhood (mostly Lakewood and Ohio City) to experience the beautiful breezy weather that’s unique to Cleveland.
Am I excited to be in Cleveland?
I’m LEANING towards a yes given the stats in terms of happening places and activities to explore and engage in respectively, I am hopeful I will DEFINITELY love it!
Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Alsooooooo, I have something excitingggggg: As part of my plan to tour the US, I am joining a 4K miles RIDE across the COUNTRY, aimed at fundraising money for cancer! Interested in saving young lives, join me and donate any amount (it can be as small as 1 DOLLAR!!!): LINK to the donation page.