Monday, June 28, 2010

Caught in the Rain and in the Dirt

In the early afternoon of June 17th, Gwen and I jumped on a boda boda with Freddie and experienced what Africa is really like. We spent all afternoon visiting extremely rural schools to do research for my TOMS project. I’ve been out to villages before, but the villages of Misindye and Bukere are so far away from mainstream Uganda that it’s as if you are entering a different world. In and around Mukono all the children get very excited when they see us, but out in those villages, everyone is happy to see us. I spent 75% of my boda ride waving at people. It was really quite exhilarating and beyond beautiful. So many people were eager to meet us and know us. And even the people who didn’t meet us had a welcoming air about them.

This next part might not be funny to you, but to Gwen and me, it was absolutely hilarious. The poorly formed, narrow, dirt roads in the thick of Uganda are incredibly hard to drive on, even with a boda boda. Anyways, at one point Freddie had to pull over to let an oncoming truck get past us. Gwen and I seeing the impending dust storm quickly buried our faces and waited for the truck to rumble past. After the dust settled Freddie kicked his boda back on and tried to get up the small slope we had gone down to get out of the way, but he couldn’t. Supposedly it’s because the dirt was so thick on the road, but I think that was Freddie’s polite way of saying, “You two Muzungu are too fat”. Anyways, Freddie had us hop off the boda so he could quickly get back onto the road. Gwen and I scrambled back onto the road and right as we were about to slowly and gracefully get back on the boda, I looked back to see another truck behind us. Getting stuck behind a truck was the last thing we wanted so Gwen jumped on the boda and tried to scoot as far forward as she could so I could get on, but because of the lack of seat and nothing stable to grab onto, I managed to swing my leg over before bouncing off of Gwens backpack and thus off the boda boda. I totally lost my balance and almost fell flat on my face. In my moment of stumbling, the truck had caught up with us and stopped so that I could get on the boda in a slower, safer manner. This time I was successful in mounting the boda boda. Freddie tried to drive fast but getting up to speed took us longer than it took the truck. All I hear is a truck revving its huge engine very close to us. Freddie waved at them to tell them to pass us thinking they were being impatient, but I turned around to see the truck cab occupied by 3 young men with big smiles. They were obviously laughing and thought it was the funniest thing ever to come up real close on our tail, honk, and then slow down. I’m also fairly certain that those truck drivers found it highly amusing that a Muzungu totally fell off of a boda boda that wasn’t moving at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire village of Misindye heard about the Muzungu falling off of a boda boda.

Next story: (Sorry this is such a long post).

In the early afternoon of June 18th, I got on a taxi to Najja. Najja is a small village between Lugazi and Jinja and is situated within spitting distance of Lake Victoria. As I mentioned before, I love venturing out to small villages because they offer a different perspective of what life in Uganda is really like. Anyways, we were out in Najja to build a square foot garden at a local school. The goal of the square foot garden was to teach the community about using their land more effectively and to provide another source of food to the school. We gave a short introduction to the teachers before heading outside to address the entire student body. I’m pretty sure the kids didn’t understand a word of what we said, but that’s okay because the following event totally prevented us from building the garden anyways. Right as we concluded talking to the kids, the sky grew dark very quickly and the rain started coming down in buckets. We took refuge in a classroom for about ten minutes before deciding that this rain storm looked incredibly fun. Within two minutes of Jenessa and Angie running out to the field to play in the rain, all of the Muzungu were outside. Jenessa, Kaile, Rachel, Nicole, Angie, Jessica, Blythe and I were running all over the field jumping through puddles and getting insanely dirty. We played an intense game of tag and enjoyed the gleeful laughs that came from our young onlookers who must have been thinking we were crazy.

In those few, precious moments in the rain I felt alive. And even more than that, I felt like a child again. It didn’t matter that I was soaking wet and that I was going to miserable for the 2 hour taxi ride back to Mukono and it didn’t matter that we didn’t get anything accomplished in Najja. What mattered was that I, we, had fun and experienced the joy of living and not taking life to seriously. Spontaneous moments like this one are what life is all about. I had a fantastic time and that was one of the happiest moments of my life and I will never forget how wonderful and happy I felt. Because we were so cold, Angie called someone at the house to turn on the water heaters. The hot shower I had that night definitely added to my joyful nature :)

Over and out

Picture 1: Family photo taken on saturday!
Picture 2: Beautiful child
Picture 3: Dang cute child
Picture 4: Jessica, Nicole, and me. They flew home yesterday :(