My only way to remain at ease while traveling the full breadth of Uganda is to simply not watch the clock. Watch what happens outside the windows and you might just forget about how long the trip is taking. The country side is starkly contrasted to city life as it would be anywhere else on earth. My niece lives on a farm in NC and I live in Houston, TX- the fourth largest city in the US. No one would believe we live in the same country if they put our lives side by side. It’s the same for Uganda. The city is congested and busy. People wear modern clothes there. In the country people are around walking, taking shade with a meal under a tree, there’s wide open spaces. We drove through a rainforest, and it smelled exactly as if I was back in Costa Rica.We saw sugar cane growing in fields. We learned the way to harvest sugar cane is to burn the field first because so many snakes move into the dense spiky plants. Then they take the cane to the the processing plant. We also saw tea growing in mounds across hills and far into the distance. There isn’t a prettier green than what I see growing here in Africa. Their soil is so rich and fertile here in the southern part of Uganda. Some of the most fertile land in all of Africa. That explains why the people are so healthy looking. Tea bushes attract the green mamba snake. It’s among the most venomous in the world, definitely a killer.So to harvest the
tea here in Uganda they spray it first to either kill or chase away the snakes, I am not sure, then they harvest the tea. This tea is not the highest quaity in the world. India grows the highest quality tea. So in Uganda it is mixed with a spice. We love it. Kevin has become a milky sweet tea drinker since arriving here in Uganda. I suppose he is tired of plain bottled water.
When we entered the Source of the Nile gate they charged non-Ugandans 10K shillings each and the Ugandans 2K shillings. Then they wanted us to come out of the car so they could wave a wand around us looking for metal. Since the bombings in July the security has been high. Our guide, Olive-who volunteers for Bridge Africa- said one of her friends was killed in those bombings. She spoke so matter of factly about death. It happens here more than perhaps we are accustomed to at home. I myself haven’t buried anyone I know. She lost not only her friend, but two of her brothers in their twenties, and her mother. She is a college student, and she’s peaceful for one who has known so much death. We rode in a fishing type boat out to the point where Lake Victoria becomes the Nile river. It is one of the few rivers in the world that flows North, and it empties into the Mediterranean. There was once a big waterfall where the boat departs but because they dammed up the lake, the waterfalls closed up with water. It is easy to see where the calm lake water becomes a swiftly moving current of river water. We saw monkeys in the trees and all sorts of beautiful birds. They docked at a bitty island to show us the current, but mostly so we could buy souvenirs from the boat guide’s daughter. It was our first souvenir shopping opportunity so we were eager spenders. After seeing the source of the Nile, we went for a lovely lunch up on a hill overlooking the river. There was a cool breeze blowing and we were entirely relaxed. I mentioned how much I enjoy the pace of African life. We are busy but not frantic, life seems to just flow like the Nile.
After lunch we went to the nearby Bujagali Waterfalls. These are not steeply dropping falls but several layers of serious rapids. Some Ugandans offered to put on a show for us in the rapids. Three men charged us a total of ten dollars to ride in kayaks and swim on a jerrican (yellow water bottle). They made for excellent photos. The problem was there were twenty other groups putting on an act and not happy at all that we only wanted to see one. Emily hired two young boys to sing a song for us and we made a short video of their rapping. She is thoroughly enmeshed with the learning of this culture. She thinks quietly and deeply. She spends her evenings typing steadily to process all of her learning. Then later she asks us intelligent questions. She’s an excellent missionary because she is comfortable with the people, doesn’t complain about being covered in thick brown dust at the end of the day, when the power goes out for endless hours, for taking freezing cold sponge baths, or when all there is to eat is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’d serve with her anywhere, any time.
At the falls, Craig wasn’t thrilled with being accosted by everyone to pay for their stunts. They will not allow photos unless a set amount of money is donated. It’s quite obvious when they are less than satisfied with our generosity or attention. We didn’t mind rushing out of there. It would have been nice to sit and contemplate the beauty of God’s creation, have some prayer time and be thankful, but, the incessant poking for money in exchange for daring feats wore us out. The drive back to Kampala took hours and hours more than we hoped. All the way I was anxious to be with Kira. I missed her. Kevin took dramamine and it knocked him out so he sprawled across my lap and Nana’s most of the way home. I think my hip is still numb from his heavy head. I got caught stroking his face and reminiscing of the days when he was my new baby. Mom and I agreed the children grow faster than we like. This is why it is an excellent idea to go across the world to Africa, spend six weeks there to adopt a baby to fill the home with laughter and silliness once again. This was a really good move for the LaTorre family.
When we pulled up to the house Emily, Jack and I barely deposited our things before hustling up the hill to the baby home. We all missed the kids and needed a fresh dose of them. After I washed my hands and the water ran dark brown from all the dust I got to Kira’s eye level. When she recognized me I received my first unsolicited smile from her. I went creamy on the inside like a belgian chocolate truffle. I held her for half an hour while she cuddled me, and giggled while I tickled the side of her tummy. The aunties had removed all the braids from her hair. There seems to be a problem with her hair. She looked like she had mange. Tufts of it were missing in all sorts of places! It’s about a two inch afro if I don’t count the holes. The auntie said this to me, “she has terrible hair, it’s very coarse and it breaks. We are going to have to cut it all off and start again.” I just laughed. I have worried about only one thing in this whole adoption and that is how in the world am I going to know how to take care of her hair. So, it appears she has the worst sort of African hair. Great. Craig said, “this will cost me a fortune”. He is right, but we will worry about that another day because after tomorrow she’s going to have only fuzz covering her head. I suppose it will be good for me to learn as it grows, perhaps the intimidation will decrease simultaneously. Tomorrow is African church with our friends Pastor Robert and his wife Rose. I promise before church to post some lovely photos of our adventure today.