Monday, July 5, 2010


Two and a half weeks until I have to adjust to a totally foreign world. Uganda has become an integral part of me in the short 2 months I’ve been here. I will think of myself as part-Ugandan forevermore. After living in this other world, there is no way I will ever turn my back on Uganda. It would be like turning my back on an old friend who has shared every secret with me.

Last week, I spent 4 out 5 days on the back of a boda boda with a kind, gentle man named Freddie. I was out for 5-6 hours at a time in the beautiful Ugandan countryside looking for the neediest schools I could find. Because we were so far apart from urban communities, I often had long stretches of time to think as we drove between each school. Freddie expertly maneuvered the boda boda between potholes and ditches as we wound our way through the rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside. As we would climb the steep paths leading to the top of a hill, I felt as if I was on a rickety, wooden rollercoaster; at the top of my jungle coaster, I had a few fleeting seconds to take in the view before, suddenly, we would start flying down a hill feeling the invisible, but strong, pull of gravity. The first time it happened, I was so surprised I almost missed it. We rounded the top of the hill and all of a sudden there was a break in the bushes that gave way to a clear, endless view of Uganda. But, as quickly as the bushes broke, they sealed up again acting as black curtain between me and the endless view. The next time we started to climb up the mountain, I was ready for that wisp of a moment where I would literally be on top of the world. Slowly but surely we approached the top. Then it happened. Before I could blink the curtains closed on my picturesque view through a window to a world, but not before I committed every minute detail to memory.

I thought for sure I could see the entire world from my perch on a tasseled, faux snake skin motorcycle seat. It was impossible to see where the vast, green horizon stopped and the blue sky spotted with clouds comparable to marshmallows started. City smog did not distort my view in the slightest. The view from on top of Old Rag in Virginia can’t even compare to the sight I beheld today in Uganda. Next to the grandeur of this beautiful country, the Birds of Paradise created an impossibly brilliant frame of reds, yellows, oranges, and greens along the side of the road. Each intricate flower barely snuck into the window through which I viewed the world, but they weren’t so intrusive that they took away from something so breathtaking and so pure as a simple glimpse at the green hills that were before me. Within those few short seconds, my view was broken suddenly by a deep pothole that scrambled my brains like an egg beater. This momentary distraction allowed to me again take in the incredible sight that lay as far as I could see. This time, I noticed the beautiful, orange monarch butterfly as it flew through my window into the world. Everything else was a blur in my mind, except for that single butterfly. She was a simple manifestation that God himself exists and knows how to bring a simple wonder and beauty into an unsuspecting universe. She graced this picture perfect moment for an instant before she disappeared as quickly as she came. How could something so small, and seemingly insignificant, be the exact detail needed to make my once almost perfect painting complete?

I don’t know if my attempt at a description of those few short moments can even do the actuality of what I witnessed justice. This kind of beauty defies all description and imagination. A few precious moments in heaven might be a good comparison to how I felt, but even that does not seem satisfactory. I really was on top of the world for ten endless seconds. I noticed everything, smelled countless different scents, and witnessed innumerable miracles of Mother Nature’s doing. I would be denying the existence of a Greater Being if I ever forgot this moment.

Over and Out.

Picture 1: the team at the 4th of July party
Picture 2: me. photo creds - scott